Bruce Arena’s first official foray into his second stint as the USMNT manager begins now, with January camp meant to test several options for future matches.
The MLS-heavy roster has brought in a number of players Arena wishes to see before the true test of friendlies to conclude the camp.
Most notably, Arena has called in players like Benny Feilhaber, Sebastian Lletget, and Dax McCarty who couldn’t manage looks under former manager Jurgen Klinsmann (McCarty will arrive late following his wedding next Saturday). Also invited were defenders Chad Marshall, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, and Keegan Rosenberry who all had outstanding MLS campaigns but have yet to receive USMNT call-ups.
The other large point of interest is Graham Zusi’s listing as a defender. This seems to confirm a report by FourFourTwo writer Paul Tenorio who claimed Zusi would be tested as a right-back during the camp. While it’s somewhat of a surprise that Arena – often touted as a structured deviation from the test-tube tenure of Klinsmann – would be experimenting, it’s also an intriguing option given Zusi’s lack of attacking prowess, his occasional history there with Sporting KC, and the lack of USMNT options at wing-back.
Overall, 32 MLS players were called into the squad, normal for the January camp as the gathering takes place outside a FIFA international window, meaning players abroad in the midst of a season do not need to be released by their club. There are recognizable names in Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, and even 34-year-old DaMarcus Beasley, whom Arena confirmed last month he would call up with the US short at his position.
Notably missing from the group is Clint Dempsey, who is still not ready to return after his heart troubles, but Arena expressed hope that Dempsey will still be able to return for the March qualifiers. Also absent from the roster is Tim Howard, who is recovering from a serious groin injury, and Matt Besler who has ankle trouble. Gyasi Zardes has successfully returned from a foot injury to make the camp.
The January camp will conclude with two friendlies, one against Serbia on January 29th and another against CONCACAF opponents Jamaica on February 3rd.
GOALKEEPERS: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Greg Garza (Atlanta United FC), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Taylor Kemp (D.C. United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (Unattached), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)