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Projecting the USMNT’s 2019 January camp roster


Gregg Berhalter’s first on-field task as manager of the U.S. Men’s National Team comes in January.

The annual January camp will feature a roster of predominantly Major League Soccer players, who are either veteran members of the USMNT, or younger players looking to make an impact.

Some of the players named to the roster will be obvious choices, as they’ll look to reinforce their respective positions on the depth chart.

Others will be fighting for a chance to be included with the full squad in March, whether they are coming off strong seasons in MLS or looking to break through after impressive campaigns with the U-20 side.

Below is a look at who should receive call-ups for the January camp, which ends with games against Panama and Costa Rica.


Alex Bono, Jesse Gonzalez, Bill Hamid, Zack Steffen

Although Zack Steffen is a known quantity to Berhalter from their time together in Columbus, it’s still worth giving the No. 1 goalkeeper on the depth chart a month of intense training as he sharpens his skills ahead of his move to Manchester City.

Alex Bono. Jesse Gonzalez and Bill Hamid all had their opportunities to make a mark on the goalkeeping depth chart, but are still behind Ethan Horvath and Brad Guzan.

Giving Guzan January off to focus on Atlanta United’s preparations for the Concacaf Champions League makes sense in order to give more reps to the younger trio.

Hamid has the most experience of the remaining netminders, and he should be given a start if he performs like he should in camp.

Bono and Gonzalez have the most room to impress Berhalter after disappointing 2018 campaigns, and at minimum, a strong showing in January camp will help build momentum toward the 2019 MLS season.


Danilo Acosta, Reggie Cannon, Greg Garza, Justen Glad, Nick Lima, Aaron Long, Mark McKenzie, Tim Parker, Ben Sweat, Jorge Villafana, Walker Zimmerman 

Before we get into the breakdown of each field position, remember Berhalter can take as many players as he wants at each spot on the field for the month-long camp.

The New York Red Bulls center back duo of Aaron Long and Tim Parker are worthy of call-ups after their remarkable year in MLS.

Although they’re both trending upward, the Red Bulls pair still has plenty of work to do to break into the full first-team lineup, which is why January camp is critical for both.

Walker Zimmerman is in the same category as Long and Parker, as he needs to translate MLS form into an increased number of international appearances.

The rest of the central defenders on the roster are selected with an eye on the future, as Mark McKenzie, Danilo Acosta and Justen Glad could all make an impact in 2022.

At full back, Greg Garza and Jorge Villafana bring experience to the defensive group while they jockey for position on the left back depth chart.

At right back, Reggie Cannon and Nick Lima have the opportunity to impress Berhalter and earn playing time while lining up beneath DeAndre Yedlin on the depth chart.

Ben Sweat is a bit of a wild-card in the group since he has two appearances at 27, but he’s worth a look as a domestic option at full back, which is still a position of need in the program.


Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, Marky Delgado, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Lletget, Djordje Mihailovic, Darlington Nagbe, Fafa Picault, Kelyn Rowe, Wil Trapp 

Russell Canouse is one of the few young players in the USMNT system that didn’t receive a serious look from Dave Sarachan during his time as interim manager.

As the calendar flips to 2019, Canouse should receive an opportunity to succeed at the deepest position on the depth chart.

Kellyn Acosta and Wil Trapp will be the front runners to start in defensive midfield, but Canouse, who excelled at D.C. United in 2018, should be in contention for a good chunk of playing time.

Paul Arriola, Darlington Nagbe, Marky Delgado, Sebastian Lletget and Fafa Picault should all be in the mix for playing time on the wings, and they should produce one of the most competitive positional battles of camp.

Brooks Lennon could be used as a Swiss Army knife player for Berhalter in either defense or midfield, depending on where the manager values him the most.

At 27, Kelyn Rowe’s time with the USMNT might be running out, but he’ll receive a chance from Berhalter because of his experience.

Djordje Mihailovic carries a ton of potential, but the Chicago Fire Homegrown player needs reps after suffering an ACL injury that kept him out for most of 2018. The 20-year-old would be a perfect selection with eyes on the future.


Corey Baird, Dom Dwyer, Jeremy Ebobisse, Christian Ramirez, Gyasi Zardes

The return of Jozy Altidore to the USMNT makes the most sense in March, when the full first team gathers.

That leaves five MLS candidates with the potential to snag a spot on a wide-open depth chart ahead of the games in March.

Christian Ramirez is the top American scorer in MLS over the two years, and that alone makes him deserving of a call-up.

Dwyer’s physicality up top and Zardes’ skill inside the penalty area make them the leading options to start against Panama and Costa Rica, and possible contribute down the line in 2019.

Jeremy Ebobisse and Corey Baird are worth looks after shining for their respective clubs in 2018.

If either player shines in January, they could warrant more looks from Berhalter with no one based in Europe grabbing hold of the forward competition.


  1. Every domestic MLS star is guaranteed their spot on the team . In most other leagues around the world you fight every week for you right to even be included in the 18 for game day. There is always someone ready and able to take your spot. This builds a toughness that is paramount to the success of any national program. BTW there is only one Messi .

    • this is one thing I am getting at when I say pecking order obsession. for a young team that didn’t qualify they should not have a real set lineup and call sheet, and an implicit, back patting assumption the coaches are on top of what is at their disposal. there should be selection pressure within and scouting without. if i can find and start someone better than you, i will. that is the way a team that barely won all fall turns it around. there are a very short list of players on the team right now earning playing time from excellence. many — trapp for example — are getting it on rep and lack of further imagination.

    • Ridiculous comment, I am sorry!
      By definition, if you are a star of the league, you are going to be included as a starter, no matter what the league is. Are Bundesliga stars not guaranteed a spot in the starting line-up?! If you are talking about the fact that an average bundesliga star is of better quality than an average MLS star, then this is not exactly a groundbreaking discovery. If you are saying that if you have two equal quality US players, the one in bundesliga has to fight for their spot more so than the one who is in MLS – sure. Still don’t understand your point. Unless of course you are just trying to belittle MLS, which is nothing new for majority of the USMNT fanbase.

      • I think it’s actually somewhat complex to sort out how the pool in their different leagues compare to each other. Is Wood off boil better than some other forward in a lesser league on top of their game? Is Brooks, who I think is crap, better because he is B.1 than some MLS guy? Now, Pulisic is everything the sales pitches say and B.1 but he’s kind of unusual in being a big club player who routinely plays like it. To me the tiebreaker is really uncomplicated, you call both players up and see what happens. If Wood and Sargent score and Zardes doesn’t, that’s really more of an answer anyway, than playing some sort of “rep” or “where do they play” game, which is really a second best tool to watching them play.

  2. Nordsjaelland, Amon’s club began club friendlies on Jan 13 last year and played six Winter friendlies, 3 on a trip to Spain. Malmo, Gall’s club played 4 matches last year in the winter 2 in Florida against MLS opponents. Malmo plays Chelsea on Valentine’s Day if Gall is released it will only be because they don’t see him playing in that match.

    • yeah that sounds all nice and dismissive and all except MLS plays preseason friendlies in January and February too. so the real question is since they aren’t playing real games will they release the players. that’s a yes or no and while not identical to MLS’ liberal approach is not absolute. there is some history of Germans on break and others being involved.

    • Thanks for the info. Sounds like we should not expect them to be in the January Camp.

      should we expect Bill Hamid to ever go back to Denmark? He is technically still at DC on loan.

      • do you want for me to give you 20+ MLS preseason schedules also? it’s roughly as relevant if they release the player.

    • Wasn’t being dismissive, just trying to be factual as several posters (apparently including you) had mentioned that they’d like to see Gall, Amon, and/or Sabbi. Since club friendlies outside of the Champions Cup are largely uncovered here in the States most people just assume clubs are on vacation. MLS has an unwritten agreement to let their players go to the camp because they do not start until mid March. Northern European clubs generally start in mid February. The clubs could release players ( I believe Amon came for the U20 camp last year, and got hurt) but generally if a Euro or Liga Mx club releases a player it is because they don’t value them at that time. For example, Jerome Keiswetter (the one German I can remember coming to a January camp) played 80 minutes for Stuttgart the rest of the season after attending camp cupcake. Villafana was released by Santos one January and then only played sparingly the rest of the season upon his return. Reserve club players might be released but most of those would likely be training with the U20s in prep for the WC if they have another Youth camp like they did last year. Much like the GC a player can come to the US camp but if it costs them playing time with their club team is it worth it? Neither Gall or Amon seems to be a lock for playing time with their respective clubs, leaving for two weeks while their competition is training doesn’t seem beneficial to the rest of their season.

    • I wouldn’t bring in any of Jozy, Morris, or the other guy coming off a knee. I think they need to go to their clubs, prove their bona fides again healthy, and then if on their game we bring them in this summer. But to me there is a Holden kind of concern of having the NT camp serve as someone’s injury proving ground.

  3. For most people on here, the rule of thumb is: “let’s always get someone new, someone we have not seen before. They must be better than existing”.

    It doesn’t always work that way. If Ebobisse was better than Zardes, we would have seen it in MLS. If Amon was better than Nagbe, it would be reflected in their club form as well. Nagbe is starting for a better team than Amon is now mainly a sub for.

    • To add to this: The player pool is what it is. There isn’t a manager on Earth who can pull an American Messi out of nowhere, or turn Trapp into Modric. We have one real CL player and he can’t win us games by himself. We are not going to see many brand new faces. What we have to hope is that Berharter can install a system that will get more out of the players we already have, and instill some confidence in the team. I, for one, think this is certainly possible. I definitely think it’s possible to regain regional dominance, and become better at beating the concacaf teams we should beat, even on the road. These are realistic and even ambitious goals, considering where we are at right now. For anyone wanting us to beat Brazil, France, and England in a competitive match, I’m afraid it’s further off than 2022.

      • Agree. Most people have not come out of state of delusion brought on by October 2017. We need to change everything and get rid of everyone. With the players we have (including Jozy!!!) we can easily go back to consistently beating Mexico and winning the Hex. We need to get back to that first before we can think of beating France in quarterfinals.

        We had a team in 2002 that was MLS-heavy that competed hard against Germany in QF’s. And that was when mLS was a lot weaker.

      • news flash guys, jozy is probably about #4 on the forward totem pole behind wood, sargent, and green. you’re bringing up october 17 but it’s like you haven’t updated your depth charts since then. so conversely i am not going back to that loser team and reinstating those players to the lineup. also, at the other positions, a lot of people retired or aged out. the supposed cavalry coming to save us right now would be Bradley Guzan Nagbe Villafana, etc. pfffft. The reality is we are in a forced rebuild and whether you like it or not, most of the older players are either gone or in a fight for playing time.

    • i’m not assuming the next guy is better. but to see if an amon can contribute, you have to play them. you then see with your own eyes, relative to others who have been in, better or worse. what i feel like people are missing is some of those fall calls were pretty close to perceived “full strength” and yet unsuccessful. ok, so i have no reason to be complacent or arrogant or assume it’s just a matter of fielding the best team. i think we need to turn over some rocks for players and even then it may take a few years of new prospects coming in to truly be a good team again.

  4. Hope I never ever see Michael Bradley or Jozy in a USA kit again .Will be interesting to see who makes the ingredients of Berhalter’s cupcake. Time has been wasted waiting for our new coach ,hope he gets it right quickly.

  5. I agree as above, bring in the strongest squad you can

    I’d like to see
    Guzan, Steffen, Gonzalez
    Opara, Long, Parker, Zimmermann
    Garza, Villafana, Cannon, Lima
    Bradley, Trapp, Acosta, Delgado, Nagbe, Roldan
    Amon, Gall, Arriola, Morris (or maybe Sabbi)
    Altidore, Zardes

    Get some confidence for these guys against two quality CONCACAF oponents

  6. Too many of these Fs you are naming will be 30+ by Qatar. Why on earth would the next man up after Wood, Sargent, and Green be some ineffective old fart. It’s more likely to be someone more the Ebobisse type direction, young, big or fast, some tactical wrinkle worth adding. Otherwise once healthy it’s Jozy, Morris, or since this is CrewWorld now, Zardes.

  7. Danish Superliga has a lengthy winter break encompassing camp cupcake, I would call up Amon and Sabbi as mids. I would not call in a young player fresh off knee rehab. I think we need to look for role specific players and quit pretending 8s are 6s or that CM two way guys are wingers. Who are the best playmakers? Destroyers? Wingers? It was annoying in the last friendly to be like, well, we’re basically out of wingers. That means you called in too many central hustle players pretending they could double outside. Balance the call sheet right and steer this more towards people who can actually excel at a specialty, like, you know, crossing, passing, tackling. That will begin to deal with the mediocre mush problem of mids who can’t possess, can’t create enough, and don’t break up enough passes the other way.

  8. Villafana and Sweat should be left off the list at back. They both looked pitiful and we have a limited timeframe to test LB options before Gold Cup and LoN. Please do not waste the window looking at people who already frustrate. This is the problem with USMNT pecking order politics is we seem to like to assume the usual guy is the better guy even if they play badly. So even when we know we need to find someone to cover a problematic position we seem to struggle to try anyone new, and basically go around in the same circles. This is not a college or HS team with a set roster, there is no reason to get stuck.

    • Just aren’t a lot of LB options in MLS, especially with the retirement of Brandon Vincent. Sweat and Villaft are not long term solutions at LB but it’s hard to imagine someone who can’t make his MLS teams lineup is better than 2 regular mls players who are pretty effective in the league.

  9. Steffen should be left off so he can fully heal up and leave us room to evaluate bench keeping options. One of the benefits of his November injury is we couldn’t reflexively run him out and had to look at the other players. Horvath then looked better than Guzan. I’d rather be getting that feedback on the rest of the pool than re-proving Steffen is a good keeper and probably the #1 when games start for real in the summer.

      • I think he would probably win a work permit appeal on talent — if they even plan on keeping him in Manchester. I also think the NT should be finding 2 and 3 keepers and not obsessing about the 1 keeper and his career. November shows he does get injured…..

      • Google work permit rules it’s pretty cut and dry, it’s not just we think he’s good even on the appeal process.

  10. I actually think this a good opportunity for Altidore and Bradley to get into camp. New coach/ staff, tactics etc. Go out there for a month and prove you are worthy of a roster spot. I feel the same about Guzan. Everyone should be starting from 0 here and earn whatever minutes tehy can get. Jozy should not be given a pass until March as the article suggests.

    • not that I am rooting for a comeback but both of them should be included in January, see how they compare with other options side-by-side in the new coach’s formation.

      id also include Roldan, Gall, Sean Davis, Stef Frei. if Danish teams let them out Sabbi and Amon.

      don’t think anyone needs to see Sweat or Rowe again. also don’t think Mihailovic, Acosta or Lima have shown enough potential or actual ability to warrant a national team call up.


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