FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges has been added by US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to the USMNT’s 28-man January camp roster, the U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday.
The call-up represents the first senior team invite for Hedges, 24, who enjoyed a standout season for FCD in 2014, leading his third-year team back into the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in three years. A University of North Carolina Tar Heel, Hedges was selected 11th overall by FCD in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
Standing 6-foot-4, Hedges is very strong in the air and also, perhaps surprisingly, quite qualified with the ball at his feet. Hedges becomes the sixth center back in USMNT camp this month, alongside USMNT veteran Matt Besler, newcomers Steve Birnbaum, Christian Dean and Shane O’Neill, and midfield convert Jermaine Jones.
With the absence of Omar Gonzalez (nagging injury, recovery time) from January camp, a significant number of first-team reps and game minutes (vs. Chile and Panama) alongside Besler are up for grabs this month. Establishing a consistent third center back behind Besler and Gonzalez is mandatory for Klinsmann with the 2015 Gold Cup and 2018 World Cup qualifying to come this year.