In January, Bruce Arena will take charge of the first organized collection of players as he hits the ground running for his second stint in charge of the USMNT.
He is making a clear attempt at transparency for the fans, something that can only benefit the team and fans in the near future. In a Facebook Live Q&A, he laid out names of some players who will be called in for the staff to look at.
Arena listed Benny Feilhaber, Juan Agudelo, Darlington Nagbe, Dax McCarty, Keegan Rosenberry, Chris Pontius, Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman as players who would be called into the squad. He also mentioned that Gyasi Zardes will be included as he looks to recover from his broken foot.
“Our domestic-based players are going to play an important role for our team in 2017,” Arena said while asking US fans for support.
The former Galaxy boss also said that Clint Dempsey will be included in January camp, a great sign for the United States, although he will be brought on slowly in hopes of being ready not only for March but the start of the MLS season as well. Dempsey has been out for months thanks to an irregular heartbeat, a dangerous condition for athletes. “Our goal is to bring Clint into the camp in January in a limited capacity, and slowly build him into the preseason for Seattle, and hope he can be a consideration for our games in March.”
Arena specifically mentioned a pair of discovery tasks that are a priority for him moving forward. He said that finding both a #10 (attacking midfielder) and a #8 (central midfielder) are important for March, due to the suspension of Jermaine Jones for the upcoming qualifier.
Another player Arena mentioned by name is Kekuta Manneh. The 21-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps striker was born in Ghana but is living just below the Canadian border in the hopes of securing his US citizenship in the near future. Manneh has been out of action since July thanks to foot surgery.
An interesting name mentioned was DaMarcus Beasley. Arena brought up left-back as a thin position on the US depth chart, and said that Beasley will be called into the January camp for this reason. The 34-year-old came out of international retirement to play for the USMNT in 2015, and he played as a regular for the Houston Dynamo this past MLS season.
Arena also mentioned the names of Ethan Findlay and Perry Kitchen as players who will not be a part of the camp. He said that Findlay is on the radar but did not make the cut for the camp, while Kitchen had club conflicts at Hearts that made it difficult for him to be included on the roster.
Arena was asked about Fabian Johnson’s position, and Arena said that the player has no preference on his position, but has requested consistency moving forward, so that will be something that Arena says he hopes to grant Johnson in the near future.