It’s that magical time of year. The Christmas decorations come down, annual tax documents are prepared, and a new government convenes to make life worse for the governed. And amidst all the aggravation and bad weather, a spark of hope is seen in the heavens.
That’s right, my friends. It’s time for January Camp.
Bruce Arena released his 32-man roster for the USMNT camp meeting next week in California earlier today. It’ll be Arena’s first training sessions with players since taking over from Jürgen Klinsmann last fall. The camp will culminate in two off-calendar friendlies— January 29th against Serbia and February 3rd against Jamaica.
The roster consists entirely of MLS guys and currently-unattached players who most recently in MLS. While it would make sense regardless to give domestic players a good look ahead of big World Cup qualifiers in March, the decision to stay local was largely out of necessity. Because the camp, and the friendlies, are scheduled outside of a FIFA-sanctioned international break, clubs in Europe and Mexico aren’t obliged to release their players.
That did not stop some folks on Soccer Twitter decrying the absence of Christian Pulisic.
A few interesting tidbits from the roster selection:
— Graham Zusi is being called up to play as a fullback. That’s… certainly a bold choice.
— 13 players who were invited to January Camp a year ago are back this time around.
— Four players named to the roster were capped with the MNT the last time Bruce Arena was in charge: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Chad Marshall and Nick Rimando.
— The defending-champion Seattle Sounders are sending four players to California next week, the most of any MLS team.
— Five uncapped players received their first call-up with the roster announcement: Sebastian Lletget, Taylor Kemp, Keegan Rosenberry, Walker Zimmerman, and Chris Pontius.
Here’s the full roster:
Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Taylor Kemp (D.C. United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (Unattached), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
While trying to read the tea leaves might not yield that much insight as far as Arena’s plans for the rest of the WC qualifying campaign go, this should still be an interesting camp to follow.