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Berhalter: USMNT working on playing in December

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The U.S. Men’s National Team’s two November friendlies had been expected to mark the end of a challenging year, but Gregg Berhalter revealed on Sunday that there may still be a chance for yet more game action for the USMNT before 2020 concludes.

Berhalter revealed to reporters on Sunday that U.S. Soccer is working on scheduling a training camp and friendly or friendlies in December, and while he didn’t away too many details, his comments did offer some insight that shed some light on the potential makeup of such a camp.

“It may not be our last game this year, just as a heads up, we may we may play in December,” Berhalter said on Sunday. “We’re trying to play in December. Hopefully that gets done.

“But it will certainly be the last time this group is together this year.”

The current November international window is the last official FIFA window of the year, meaning that clubs would not be obligated to release players for a December training camp and friendly. That said, with the Major League Soccer regular season already completed, and the playoffs set to conclude on December 8, a camp featuring MLS talent would make plenty of sense, especially since MLS players haven’t taken part in a USMNT camp since the January camp and February 1 friendly win against Costa Rica.

Sebastian Lletget was the only MLS player included in the current USMNT camp, and he was a replacement for Josh Sargent, as Berhalter chose to call in a squad made up exclusively of European-based players.

It remains unclear whether a December camp would take place as a replacement for the traditional January camp, or if the USMNT would hold both camps. Berhalter did use the word “perhaps” when he mentioned January as one of the potential periods left for him to call the team together prior to next summer’s very busy schedule.

December also happens to be a month that will see MLS teams compete in the CONCAF Champions League knockout rounds in a standalone tournament in Orlando, Florida. Holding a USMNT camp in the same vicinity as that tournament could make things convenient as players finish that competition and become available. Los Angeles FC, Atlanta United, New York City FC and the Montreal Impact are all set to compete in the Concacaf event, which begins on December 15. That is one week after the MLS Cup final concludes the current MLS season on December 8.

Comments

  1. It makes some sense for GB to have the MLS players in camp to see how they interact with each other and to the coaching staff. I suspect some of the choices GB makes for the games that matter will be determined by his perception of the player’s responses to him and his staff perhaps more than how they actually perform in the game against an admittedly weaker opponent.

    OTOH, until the players can get the vaccine, there is risk due to COVID and that might negate anything learned in a Dec. camp.

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  2. I started to write some other year it might be interesting to fiddle with when the offseason MLS camp is run. You might be able to get some Germans, at least age group Germans, involved on their break if you ran the camp earlier. And maybe other Europeans whose leagues have a gap in the winter. The “January” timing was originally intended to fill the hole when MLS didn’t start back up until April, but we might have friendlies or even qualifiers in March. So there is a practical reason to consider fiddling with the dates. But I am not sure I want to encourage it. In a pandemic — stupid. Likeliness of finding opponents to play in the dead of winter when no one in the region has leagues going — stupid (by January leagues are back up). MLS players need rest — stupid. Incredibly high tempo pandemic league seasons from which players need a rest — stupid. I liked the October camp last year before the November NL games. That’s creative but players get their rest after since their teammates would be in MLS playoffs. This is stealing rest. I appreciate that he’s thinking a little outside the box but this particular idea’s stupid in about 20 ways. The smarter idea would be maybe stagger the winter break European age group kids into a camp slightly before the MLS players, and just take your lumps that they won’t get game action.

    He’s a half beat off of bright. It’s like how they were going to Qatar to camp where we might play in 2022. OK, not the dumbest idea ever….until you decide to do it with Camp Cupcake players many of whom won’t make Qatar. It’s like he’s in the neighborhood of decent ideas but wrong house.

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    • I mean if you look at the schedule, you’re going to want people in March for friendlies, June for NL and quali, August for Gold Cup, and the fall windows for quali. Olympics, U20, on top of packed club seasons. On into next year, quali game after quali game. When are people getting rest? I am sure his impulse since he is selling style change is he needs camps and camps. Try to gel in reality, and also to sell like he’s working on it. But we have a busy schedule and a lot of players react like Pulisic to being tired. Let them rest. Pick a year of less consequence and lower tempo to mess with winter camp. And I’m not sure this ever makes sense because a camp so early denies the MLS contingent their offseason.

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    • Reports saying El Salvador on Dec 9. I guess the thought would be MLS players are still in a regular testing regimen so bringing them as their season is ending is safer than sending them home for 30 days and then bring them back. Not sure we really need it though.

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  3. Would make sense to have camp in Orlando coinciding with CL. Then if a players team is eliminated they are already in the bubble. Not sure how many NT players are also on CCL squads can’t be many.

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    • On second glance not sure there is anyone on the remaining teams in CCL.
      MLS based roster:
      G: Turner, Hamid, Johnson
      FB: Gasper, Vines, Duncan, Araujo
      CB: McKenzie, Long, Zimmerman, MRobinson
      MF: Aaronson, Bassett, Williamson, Roldan, Mihailovic, Busio
      W: Lewis, Mueller, Ebobisse, Morris
      F: Dike, Akinola, Zardes
      Not as exciting as this weeks roster but would probably still qualify for the WC. About half have had recent Euro interest.
      Also a chance to reach out to Efra.

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