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Projecting the USMNT January camp roster

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The new year is almost hear, and 2022 is shaping up to be a very important one for the U.S. men’s national team, making the opening camp of the year key to set a good tone.

The recent December camp provided an opportunity for some new faces to impress, and while some of those newcomers should take part in the January camp, the focus of the next group will be squarely on preparing the USMNT’s MLS contingent for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers toward the end of January.

That means we will see the return of of some players who skipped the December camp in order to rest, or because of MLS playoff commitments. That includes Miles Robinson, Daryl Dike, Sean Johnson and James Sands.

What will be interesting to see is what new faces Berhalter calls in, and what, if any, foreign-based players he is able to bring in for the first half of January. Emmanuel Sabbi is a particularly interesting prospect based in Denmark, and the Danish League doesn’t return to action until February. There is also Johnny Cardoso, who showed well in the December win against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and who could take part in the January camp and return to Brazil in time for the start of Internacional’s new campaign.

Either way, the group convening for the January camp will be mostly MLS-based players, with Gregg Berhalter focusing on building up fitness for the key players expected to play important roles in qualifying.

This January camp will be different from past editions because of those qualifiers, and the fact that the USMNT’s European-based contingent will be rolling in by the third week of January ahead of the January 27 qualifier vs. El Salvador. That gives those new faces and fringe options a good two weeks of camp to try and impress Berhalter and force their way into the full squad. Given the deep pool of European-based options, that task is becoming tougher and tougher for MLS-based players to pull off.

With that in mind, here is a look at what the January USMNT squad could look like when the squad convenes on January 6 in Arizona (Keep in mind this squad is different from the squad that will be formed around January 22-23 when the USMNT’s first-choice European-based players arrive for qualifying):


Goalkeepers


Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos

Matt Turner, Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid

The easy picks here are Turner and Johnson, with Johnson coming off his MVP showing in the MLS Cup final, but the big question is who will Berhalter call in as the third goalkeeper? He brought in some youngsters in Gabriel Slonina and John Pulskamp in December, and could be tempted to give Slonina a longer look, but this could also be a good chance to bring back Hamid and see where he stands at the moment.

Missed the Cut – Gabriel Slonina, Tyler Miller, William Yarbrough, J.T. Marcinkowski


Defenders


Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos

Miles Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, George Bello, Brooks Lennon, Aaron Long, James Sands, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones, Aaron Herrera

The five centerbacks listed here are a good bet to be the group, especially if Berhalter decides Aaron Long is doing well in his recovery.

The fullback spots will require a bit tougher a process to settle on options. At right back, Lennon showed well in the December camp and friendlies and should be back, assuming Atlanta United allows it. Aaron Herrera is coming off a career year with Real Salt Lake and should get the nod, especially with Kyle Duncan in the process of completing a transfer to Belgium in January.

At left back, you have DeJuan Jones making this list, though if Kevin Paredes is healthy he could get the nod instead after reportedly impressing in the January camp.

Missed the Cut – Kevin Paredes, Auston Trusty, Mauricio Pineda, Donovan Pines, Keegan Rosenberry, Hassani Dotson


Midfielders


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Sebastian Lletget, Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan, Djordje Mihailovic, Matt Polster, Cole Bassett, Jackson Yueill

The first three names on our list are locks to be in the group, but after that we could see any number of variations. Mihailovic and Polster had outstanding MLS seasons, and Mihailovic is someone Berhalter has stated is on his radar. Bassett scored the winner in the December friendly vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina and should merit a longer look.

A few wild cards to consider are Paxton Pomykal and Leon Flach. Pomykal has endured a long road to recovery after injuries derailed his progress, but Berhalter could be tempted to give him a look as he searches for more midfield creativity. Flach is a very intriguing defensive midfield prospects, and Berhalter could very easily call him ahead of Yueill in order to have a closer look after seeing Yueill in the December camp.

Missed the Cut – Paxton Pomykal, Frankie Amaya, Leon Flach


Forwards



Ricardo Pepi, Daryl Dike, Gyasi Zardes, Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola, Jesus Ferreira, Emmanuel Sabbi

The striker position is a bit crowded with Pepi, Dike and Zardes all capable of taking part in the camp. There are plenty of transfer rumors surrounding both Pepi and Dike, so we could see one or both leave camp early, or be left out altogether as they prepare potential January moves.

Where Berhalter has some scarce options is on the wings, where Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola are clear choices, but natural wing threats aren’t easy to find beyond that. Chris Mueller and Caden Clark are two potential options who are ruled out due to their moving to Europe.

Jonathan Lewis is an old Berhalter favorite, and he showed some good things with the Colorado Rapids in 2021, and Rubio Rubin can play any of the forward positions in Berhalter’s system and is coming off an impressive first season with Real Salt Lake.

Missed the Cut – Rubio Rubin, Jonathan Lewis, Cade Cowell, Brian White


What do you think of this projected squad? Who are you happy to see included? Who is missing that you feel should have made the list?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. @ Vacqui – My issue with the Yes/No situation on the retreads and manager favorites like Roldan, Arriola, Zardes, etc is…
    1) In the history of the USMNT we’ve never had this kind of depth of talent in the player pool. In past cycles it would have been unheard of for a consistent starter in the Dutch League (Luca) or someone seeing regular minutes in the French League (Konrad & Gioacchini) not to be part of the 23.
    2) Yes every manager has favorites and often give them the benefit of the doubt. But as we’ve seen in past cycles we can’t afford to take a less talented player to a WC just because they’re a coaches buddy/favorite. Take 2014 as an example…Jozy pulls his hammy and Johannsson gets injured…and suddenly we have no depth. Would have been nice to have Donovan as a bench option instead of Brad.
    3) While not ideal to have someone who wasn’t part of the WCQ to make the WC Squad you have to lean towards the players in the best form in the lead-up to the WC and not just select someone because they’ve been with the team the longest (see reason # 2).
    4) Roldan, Zardes, Arriola, Lletget have struggled to perform at the International level for a while now. Realistically how many more chances can we afford to give them? We have 6 Qualifiers remaining than probably 3-5 friendlies before the group stage matches start. If we don’t start looking at other legitimate options we’re going to be stuck with them.

    Reply
  2. “Rubio Rubin can play any of the forward positions in Berhalter’s system and is coming off an impressive first season with Real Salt Lake.”

    That’s nice. Didn’t he switch to Guatemala?

    Reply
    • He went to training in May but did not file a switch after Gregg placed him in GC preliminary roster. Maybe he’s done so after not being invited to camps but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

      Reply
  3. I get that this is a MLS heavy camp intended to get players into swing before the WCQ’s, but I am struggling to understand why some of these names are still involved.
    Defensively what was called in was probably the best we could pull together from MLS. But there is still a lot to be desired among these selections.
    Yueill – has shown time and again that he’s not capable at the international level. He was poor during the Olympic Qualifying, during the Gold Cup, and was behind Cardoso during the December camp. Why do we continue to project him as an option? I’d much rather see Flack be given a chance.
    Roldan – has been a disappointment for a while. He had every opportunity to shine during the December camp, show he could help direct a young and inexperienced squad. Instead he showed he is AVERAGE in all facets of his game. How much longer are we going to be stuck with him.
    Zardes – Another retread who’s shown he’s lacking. With Pepi & Dike already targeted to be in camp why bring a 3rd CF who’s lacking.
    I’m not a fan of Lletget & Arriola either, but again their probably the best we could expect at this camp. I can only hope that they’re sent home once the European talent arrives.

    Reply
    • I’m not even sure Gregg will bring in this many or if will be just the 10 or so that will be on the qualifying roster. I don’t see Sabbi coming the Danish teams are usually training in Spain or some other warm locale preparing for the 2nd half. I’d like to have Flach and Pomykal but I don’t think the roster will go that deep. With no friendly it seems kind of pointless to bring in guys who will not be in Columbus for El Salvador. I don’t see Gregg adding anymore new guys to the roster for qualifying at this point. There’s already been almost 10 guys added to the core 25-30 since NL. Ride or die with these 30 to three home wins and qualification and then experiment in the summer. If Weah, Wes, and Gio get and stay healthy that shouldn’t be a problem, but that’s not a small if.

      Reply
      • There may not be a friendly scheduled but I would fully expect an inter squad scrimmage. Therefore I fully expect there to be at least 22 players in this pre-camp camp. I’m just tired of seeing the same poor performing retreads get rewarded by being called up. Since the bulk of the January WCQ roster should come from the European player contingent there is absolutely no reason that the failed retreads (Roldan, Zardes, Yueill, etc…) should be involved.
        Gregg failed to bring in Scally into the October camp to be integrated into the Sr. Team, instead he pushed him to the November camp. Since this pre camp means nothing this is the perfect time to look at some new faces who could supplant the failed retreads.

      • Maybe your right in an effort to gain match fitness for the guys that will play in the Jan window they’ll bring enough for a full scrimmage. I think small sided games might be used instead but USSF doesn’t give away everything in their videos so maybe there’s a lot of 11v11 that we don’t see. Looking at Ives list there isn’t really a large group of guys we haven’t seen, and most of them play worse in MLS than Gyackson Llegacosiola. Flach is intriguing and Pomykal of 2019 could fill a need. I’m not sure Pax is back to that quality and as an FCD fan definitely fear him trying to ramp up for competitive play in Jan. Camp.

      • Lost In Space,

        “this is the perfect time to look at some new faces who could supplant the failed retreads.”

        Yes and no.

        No because it is already very late in the game. Competitive games with the team are the best way to evaluate a player (and a team) and , after March, they are done with competitive games. before Qatar.

        Yes because the WC starts in November, not June.
        That’s four extra months for injured players to heal, bubble players to make a case at their clubs and, on the other hand, for players to get hurt or lose their form entirely.

        A guy like Long, for example, is one of the teacher’s pets. He will be given every chance to recover and get on the roster for Qatar, assuming they qualify.

        On the other hand, a guy like Paxton for example, needs this camp so he can make a case for inclusion in the qualifiers where he can make a case for Qatar. I don’t believe in making a team off of your performances in exhibition games.

        If Paxton doesn’t get to play in the qualifiers, it would be hard to justify bringing him to Qatar.

        I’m not really familiar with Paxton. He might be a better player but, unless he gets sold to Real Madrid and leads them to the Champions League final, his chances of supplanting a guy like Roldan or Acosta are slim to none. Every manager has their favorites and this manager’s favorites have been there for all to see for years and years. His core faves, Ariolla, Sebastian G., Roldan, Acosta, ad.nauseam will have to be dynamited out of the roster.

        The Eurostars will start and star and this manager’s faves will fill out the roster.
        Of course with this manager who knows?

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