Whenever U.S. national team January training camp rosters are released, they inevitably come with omissions that leave people scratching their heads and wondering why the coach left some players off and brought certain other players in. The latest roster unveiled by Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t without a few question marks, but does as good a job as we have seen in recent memory of digging into the available talent pool and delivering a promising squad.
Klinsmann has shown a willingness to give MLS players a chance, and with this January’s training camp roster, he runs through the league’s talent pool like a master craftsman. Yes, there is at least one head-scratcher of a call-up (Eric Alexander) and some MLS players who could have merited looks (like Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen and Perry Kitchen), but the 26-player roster called in by Klinsmann does an excellent job of not only tapping into need areas, but also casting an eye toward the future.
The group has its top players like Landon Donovan, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Nick Rimando and Eddie Johnson, but also a refreshing mix of deserving MLS performers like Brad Davis, Dax McCarty and young faces like DeAndre Yedlin and Luis Gil. It is a group with a good amount of talent, and one that could definitely produce a few players who play their way onto the plane to Brazil.
Here is a closer look at the U.S. January training camp roster:
THE FAMILIAR FACE
Benny Feilhaber has had a roller-coaster ride of a career, and as recently as a year ago it seemed like returning to the national team might be long shot for him. A strong season and MLS Cup title later, the Sporting KC playmaker and 2010 World Cup veteran is back in with another chance to impress Klinsmann.
Feilhaber’s call-up bears watching because he brings qualities that are unique in the player pool as a truly creative central midfielder. Playing for Peter Vermes forced him to improve the defensive side of his game and now he heads into the January camp a more well-rounded player who could absolutely play his way back into the full national team conversation. Having Mix Diskerud in camp will also be good for Feilhaber because it will allow Klinsmann to compare and contrast the two, who could wind up competing for the same spot on the U.S. World Cup roster.
It’s hard not to feel happy for Mike Magee, a career MLS player who made the jump from someone known for performing well in the playoffs to MLS MVP this year. What had been missing for him was a national team look, but after the year he had, it was tough for Klinsmann to justify not taking a look.
Magee’s is a feel-good story, but he still has plenty of work to do, starting with figuring out how he best fits on the team. The competition at forward is fierce and Magee might not be well-suited to play on the wing on the international level. He will get his chance to shine in camp though, and in the end that’s all Magee was hoping for.
If there is an area to be excited about it's at the fullback spots, where Klinsmann is bringing in some new blood to try and revitalize two positions with questionable depth. At left back, Chris Klute was one of the revelations of the 2013 MLS season while Seth Sinovic has quietly developed into one of the best fullbacks in the league. Michael Harrington is coming off an outstanding season with Portland, and can play both left and right back. At right back, Chance Myers is a skilled player who has developed the consistency and toughness that comes with passing through Peter Vermes’ system. Then you have youngster De’Andre Yedlin, one of the most exciting young prospects in MLS, which brings us to our next segment.
THE NEXT GENERATIONTwitter