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Brenden Aaronson, Efrain Alvarez, Ayo Akinola among the 22 players called into the USMNT December camp


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)


  1. Of the really young kids I’ve seen lately (under 19) the one who impressed me most was Pepi who plays for Dallas. I would have liked to see him called in.I don’t agree with all of the rest, but in general I think it’s a pretty good selection.

    • They said a couple more might get added after western semis. I think it’s a numbers game though Dike is CF and Ayo has played better there for Toronto so with just one match there’s just not enough minutes. Prior to FCD winning against Portland it was reported Ferreira was coming not Pepi. Jesus provides a different type of forward even though he was pretty blah this season.

  2. Feels like a couple guys will still get added after the Western semis. As of now here’s how it could look:
    If Dallas loses Reynolds for Duncan, I could also see Ferreira returning to the false 9 role he played in a January with Ayo and Mueller running in behind. Then bring Dike off the bench the last 20 minutes and send in the crosses.

    • Only 3 differences in your lineup for me. I think, I would have Araujo start @ RB. Mueller @ LW, Ayo @ RW, Long LCB, & McKenzie RCB. Otherwise, solid lineup! I think, GB starts Arriola @ RW, though. Acosta is probably the most surprising call up on this list, guaranteed to play the 6, for GB vs El Salvador. Yueill & Alvarado not in camp is puzzling. You think, GB has his attention on the Olympics?

      • I wasn’t sure on the sides for Ayo and Mueller neither really play on the left much but both could cut in from the left. Arriola hasn’t played since March I don’t think you put him in the starting lineup. I know Long and McKenzie both play LCB for their clubs I believe Mark is left footed and Aaron is right footed but I might be wrong. I do think this is primarily an Olympic camp just as the Euro camp had a distinct Olympic bend. Not sure if they’ve rescheduled qualifying tournament but if it’s March there’s no chance for a camp after this one if this is replacing camp cupcake and not in addition too.

  3. Some selections I didn’t quite expect but I think it’s a good group of players with good choices such muller dike Akinola Bassett Aaronson McKenzie included

  4. Not really a fan of some of these call-ups….
    Defense: Why Long & Zimmerman. I could see 1, but both? Hopefully McKenzie gets the start so we can finally push Ream out of the picture.
    Midfield: Lletget was used in the last window…I’m hoping that he’s just there as a measuring stick in practice and doesn’t see the field.
    Attack: Arriola is a wasted call. He just returned from a knee injury that had him out most of the season. At this point he’s a known quality and with the other younger talent out here I’m disappointed that he’s included. Hope he doesn’t see the field.

    • Alvarez would need to file a one-time switch with FIFA to play for the US. That won’t happen before this game. He is likely invited to train with the team and intice him into making the switch. His agent likely told him to keep his options open.

    • I’ve lost track of the rules a bit on duel nationals. I though that since Alvarez hasn’t represented the Mexican Full national team that he could play in a Friendly without having to file a switch since he is eligible for both countries.
      I’m probably wrong….but that’s how I remember it. In the past Jones, Williams, Fabian, and the rest had to obtain a US Passport but I think Alvarez already has one.

      • since Alvarez has played in official competitions with the Mexican youth NT he has to file a one time switch to play for the USMNT, but he is however allowed to train with the team

    • As Ives states clearly in the article he would have to file a switch because he represented Mexico at the U17 WC. Hence, Mysterious’s nevermind reply to his own post.

  5. It is good to see Berhalter being assertive with dual nationals, calling in 4 candidates.The decision comes down to a discussion between the player and agent, and which option provides the best potential for career advancement. Dest saw the opening at left back, and made a wise choice. Either Dike and Akinola can slot in as a replacement for the aging Altidore, and both have lots of similarities, but one questions whether there is A need or room for both. Nigeria is a long flight for Dike, and Canada is right next door for Akinola, and he is a likely starter. that will likely weigh into the decision.

    If Alvarez accepts the call up and trains with the team, the door is open. The upside is high, so if he and his agent see an opening at midfield, maybe he will make the switch.

  6. I like Acosta back in the mix at mid, he’s produced in some friendlies and was hard done by. I appreciate the experiments but again this has been set up to confirm him plus Aaronson and Lletget. Lletget just played the last set and I don’t get the scouting value of him hogging another start so soon, other than the coach putting his thumb on the scale that he should emerge from the dogfight for the attacking bench. On Aaronson based on his last anonymous NT outing this should be closer to a tryout game where he is not above the other prospects and the best player wins. But he will get the start to make a case. Again, it’s like, give some equal chances out. Make people earn it.

    • Love how you continue to think NT occurs in a vacuum. Praise Acosta who hasn’t played with the NT for two years and has been mediocre for a mediocre club team. Aaronson is bashed because his one NT match at the beginning of preseason he wasn’t stellar but he’s named to the MLS Best 11, his team wins the Supporters Shield, and he makes a 6-9 million transfer to a Champions League Club.

      • The only reason I came back here now and again is the read his posts. The combination of delusion, arrogant certainty, and sheer cluelessness is hard to beat for pure comedy purposes. In a social media world of pure trash he is king.

      • This is the US playing, not club. Acosta scored on Ghana and Colombia, and had an assist on Peru. He started the Mexico win and Portugal tie. That is a NT track record. It’s not his fault GB pastured him. Call me when Aaronson has done a thing for the NT. Whatever you think of his pedigree — and let’s be real, he got cut for U20 behind many of the people we just watched in November — he has one cap in January camp where I can’t remember a positive thing he did. In contrast, I can remember the US screamer Acosta scored.

    • Again your talking about things Acosta literally did years ago not what he’s doing now in 2020. Your talking about what Aaronson did 12 months ago. Players change over time.

      • The Colombia game was this cycle, 2 years ago. He is 25. I’m discussing how he did in games where he played alongside Weah Robinson Brooks Miazga Cannon Sargent. Where he scored goals or got results from tough opponents. Quit acting like I am discussing 1980 or a previous cycle. And if we’re going to start playing the “but that was 2 years ago” game a lot of the GB regulars you tout haven’t done anything impressive this cycle and their last good game was like 2015.

      • I am talking about what Aaronson did with his opportunity. I didn’t have to make excuses for Pulisic after his first caps. There is no other “good” game that offsets the disappearing act. There is perseverance about a player who was cut by the U20s and has been elevated a la Bornstein because a particular NT coach with strange tastes likes him. I will wait to see him do a thing at the NT level first. You keep running past, one of them has scored and contributed to results at this level. The other is all your subjective hope. I am about objective production. Call me when he shows up.

  7. At back I like that the wide options are basically wide open. However the selection is such Long and Zimmermann will get most/all of the CB minutes. I am not necessarily opposed to them but it’s again where the disparity in the roster is such the starters at some spots are just obvious and I think the whole backline has been iffy enough everyone should be contested. In fact I think it would be in our best interests to trial CBs and give them 90 to make a case. A 10 minute cameo gets them in front of the coach for practice but be real about their chances of making much of an argument.

    • I will give GB the credit that Lovitz and other backline disappointments were omitted, however the selection does not give the feel of a first team core so it is unclear if their omission reflects any lasting opinion of them. No Bradley Jozy Zardes either. I wish that reflected an objective analysis of their tepid work this year but they likely are being rested.

      • Jozy in my opinion is done, can’t stay healthy and has lost a step. Zardes is not called in because he’s still playing in the MLS playoffs, but I get the sense that GB wanted to use this window to look at more younger players domestically, so maybe many of the older options weren’t even considered for this camp obviously except for the ones chosen(you have to have some veterans in camp).

  8. The keeping choices are messed up. Hamid had a horror season, lousy team, low save %, 1.88 GAA. Some regular veterans who are eliminated had much better seasons on paper. Some emerging possibilities had good years and didn’t make camp. He basically made his choices Hamid off a lousy year for a cap he didn’t earn, or U23 types who will likely sit and watch. GB’s thumb on the scales in favor of Hamid who didn’t earn it. We actually need to sort out who the second and third keepers should be. I don’t see this helping that one bit in a helpful way. It’s almost designed to protect Hamid who played awfully and whose NT lock has never been explained other than at one point people thought he’d be in the mix and he never got taken back out.


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