U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Michael Bradley enters the annual January camp with five more caps than the other 26 players on the roster combined.
With so many new faces called up by newly-minted head coach Gregg Berhalter, the former Columbus Crew boss is tasking Bradley with providing experience over the month-long training camp.
“This is an opportunity for Michael to show his value to the group,” Berhalter told reporters on Thursday. “We’re excited to see him and how he works through this training camp leading the team and also contributing to what we’re trying to do on the field.”
Although the main focus of the USMNT has been to acclimate younger players to the international stage and test their qualities at the high level, the specter of experienced players coming back to the group has lingered for the last 12 months.
Berhalter expects to add more experience to the squad in the coming months, but the time wasn’t right for other veterans to join January camp.
Bradley’s Toronto FC teammate Jozy Altidore is still recovering from an injury, but the forward will make an appearance in California during the first month of 2019.
“Jozy will be in camp to come around and see the environment for one or two days,” Berhalter said. “He’s still injured. He won’t be able to participate in training so we’re obviously not going to include him in the full camp.”
Atlanta United’s Brad Guzan and Darlington Nagbe were left off the 27-man roster to stay fresh and get healthy with the Five Stripes beginning their season on February 21 in the Concacaf Champions League round of 16 against Herediano.
“Brad’s an example of a player who’s played long into the MLS season and he needs to rest,” Berhalter said. “They’re going to have a new coach and Champions League games coming up and i thought it was best for him to get rest at this time.
“The same thing goes for Darlington,” Berhalter said. “He’s a guy that was injured for a large portion of the season and we feel it’ll be more beneficial for him to get a good solid preseason in with his club and build up his strength. First get the rest and then build up the strength and have another good MLS season.”