The final U.S. Men’s National Team camp of 2020 will feature a crop of new faces, as Gregg Berhalter taps into the young talent in Major League Soccer for his team’s final match of the year.
LA Galaxy youngsters Efrain Alvarez and Julian Araujo, and standout young strikers Daryl Dike and Ayo Akinola are among the 12 uncapped players called in for the USMNT’s upcoming training camp ahead of a year-end friendly against El Salvador, on December 9 at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Philadelphia Union standouts Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie are also part of the squad, with Aaronson set for a January move to Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg.
Alvarez’s inclusion will turn heads due to the fact the Los Angeles native has represented Mexico on the youth national team level, including as a standout at the Under-17 World Cup in 2019.
Due to Alvarez’s participation in that youth World Cup, he cannot play in the El Salvador friendly, or represent the United States until he files a one-time Change of Association with FIFA. He doesn’t need the Change of Association in order to train with the USMNT though, and his acceptance of the December call-up suggests the 18-year-old is still keeping national team options open.
The squad is made up almost exclusively of MLS players, with Benfica goalkeeper C.J. Dos Santos the lone player on the roster who wasn’t part of an MLS team in 2020.
Berhalter could still call in additional players from the MLS teams that are eliminated in this week’s MLS playoff matches (Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United).
Berhalter has called in some intriguing forward prospects, including Orlando City standout Daryl Dike and Toronto FC breakout striker Ayo Akinola. Both Dike and Akinola are eligilble to play for multiple national teams, with Akinola reportedly considering playing for Canada.
Alvarez isn’t the only dual national from the LA Galaxy on the USMNT roster. Right back Julian Araujo is also in the squad amid rumors that the Mexican national team has approached the teenager about playing for El Tri.
Here is the full 22-player squad:
USMNT December training camp roster
(Caps/national team goals)
GOALKEEPERS: CJ Dos Santos (Benfica/POR; 0/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 7/0), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)
DEFENDERS: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers; 0/0, Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 17/3), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; 1/0), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 12/2)
MIDFIELDERS: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; 1/0), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 23/2), Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 16/3)
FORWARDS: Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 33/5), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; 5/1), Chris Mueller (Orlando City SC; 0/0)