The U.S. national team will conclude its annual January training camp as the MLS-heavy squad takes on Chile this Wednesday (6 pm ET) and Panama on Sunday, Feb. 8 (4 pm ET), and on Saturday USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his 23-man roster for the trip to South America and back to StubHub Center in Carson, California.
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20 of the 23 players from which Klinsmann will select his gameday teams hail from MLS teams, including nine 2014 World Cup veterans, with fresh Tottenham Hotspur signing DeAndre Yedlin — a late addition to the camp squad — Minnesota United (NASL) midfielder Miguel Ibarra and 1860 Munich (soon-to-be elsewhere?) forward Bobby Wood the only exceptions.
USMNT midfielder/defender Jermaine Jones spoke recently of the team working in a 3-5-2 formation in training, which would explain the abundance of center backs and near-complete absence of any true full backs on the roster. Yedlin will presumably start as the right-sided wing back with midfielder Brek Shea, who has MLS experience as both a center back and winger, opposite Yedlin. The shift in formation would seem to fit Yedlin to a T, as the 21-year-old still has a ways to go defensively, but provides ample speed and width getting further forward in the attack.
Jones figures to start in the center of the back three with regular starter Matt Besler on his left and any one of the other five center backs on the roster on the right. In a perfect world, that guy is Matt Hedges, but as we all know too well already, this is not a perfect world; it’s actually Jurgen Klinsmann’s world.
A deep-in-midfield pairing of Michael Bradley and Wil Trapp is enough to make the most critical of USMNT fans salivate over what could prove to be a well-suited partnership for many years to come. Lee Nguyen has to see an extended run in the first team following his dominant 2014 season in MLS, while Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey seem near-locks to get their fair share of minutes together up top.
Full USMNT roster
Goalkeepers (3): Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Jon Kempin (Sporting Kansas City), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (7): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders (8): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (Orlando City), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)