U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named 20 players to the training camp roster that will run from Jan. 3-26 in the United States and Panama. The U.S. will host Venezuela on Jan. 21 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Four days later, the U.S. faces Panama at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. Fans can follow both games live on ussoccer.com‘s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.
The players and staff will report to Phoenix, Ariz., on Jan. 3 to begin training. The team will move to U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., to continue training from Jan. 13-20, and then return to Arizona to finalize preparations for Venezuela.
“This is a very important opportunity for these players,” said Klinsmann. “They are the next in line behind the established players, and this is a chance to prove themselves. We will spend the next few weeks introducing them to our ideas on how we want to play and what it means to be a part of the National Team. Ultimately, it will create more depth for us, which you need at this level. I’m very curious and excited to see this group.”
The annual camp held in January for players in their offseason is a largely domestic-based group that includes 18 players who ply their trade in the United States. More than half the players have two caps or less for the full National Team, and five will be seeking their first appearance.
Major League Soccer is well represented, with 12 clubs contributing players. Two come from the MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy, including starting defenders A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez, who was voted the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year. FC Dallas sends a trio, led by midfielder Brek Shea, who along with Gonzalez is part of the 2011 MLS Best XI. Shea is one of only three players to appear in all seven matches coached by Klinsmann thus far.
Sporting Kansas City also contribute three, including frontliners Teal Bunbury and 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong, who makes his debut on a National Team roster. Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando join from Real Salt Lake, with Beckerman having enjoyed a renaissance with the U.S. team since Klinsmann took the helm by appearing in six matches, five as a starter.
A pair of 2010 FIFA World Cup veterans return to the fold, as Ricardo Clark and Benny Feilhaber appear for the first time in more than a year. Feilhaber had been named to the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster, but withdrew after suffering an ankle injury prior to the start of the tournament. Clark is one of two European-based players on the roster, along with Michael Parkhurst.
After becoming the first U.S. Soccer Development Academy alumnus to play for the full National Team, Juan Agudelo made his first appearance memorable by becoming the youngest player in the modern era to score for the United States when he tallied the lone goal in the 1-0 win on Nov. 17, 2010, against South Africa. Agudelo played in 14 matches for the National Team in 2011, second most on the squad.
Six of the players spent time in the offseason training with clubs in Europe: Agudelo (Stuttgart, Liverpool), Beckerman (FC Kaiserslautern), Bill Hamid (West Bromwich Albion), Sean Johnson (Everton), Jeff Larentowicz (Bolton) and Shea (Arsenal). Additionally, five players on the roster are age-eligible to compete in qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games: Agudelo, Bunbury, Hamid, Johnson and Shea.
The annual January camps have produced some memorable moments in addition to being the starting point of promising international careers. In 2007, a young Jonathan Bornstein scored his first goal in his first game, a path which led to two starts at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A year later, Landon Donovan made history when he became the all-time leader in goals scored for the United States. In 2009, Sacha Kljestan opened his international scoring account in style, becoming only the second player in U.S. history to score his first three goals all in the same game.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)