Arena calls on MLS-only 32-man roster for USMNT January camp
Bruce Arena has called on 32 MLS players for the annual U.S. men's national team January camp, unveiling his roster on Thursday a day after filling out his coaching staff.
The camp, which normally features a heavy MLS contingent based on the time of year and given that it doesn't fall during a FIFA international window, serves as the only preparation time Arena has with the U.S. before March's four-day camp and ensuing World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama. Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as U.S. manager following a pair of World Cup qualifying losses to Mexico and Costa Rica in November.
Arena had already lifted the lid on a good chunk of the roster a few weeks ago, indicating that the likes of Keegan Rosenberry, Matt Hedges, Benny Feilhaber, Dax McCarty, Walker Zimmerman and other players who had few to no chances under Klinsmann would get the call.
Two players who are not yet eligible to appear in matches for the U.S. but are cleared to participate in camp while in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship were called upon as well. MLS Cup MVP and Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei and Vancouver Whitecaps winger Kekuta Manneh will get the chance to play in training, though they won't be available for friendlies against Serbia (Jan. 29) and Jamaica (Feb. 3) to conclude the camp.
As for a pair who might appear to be surprise omissions, Matt Besler is recovering from left ankle surgery he had last month, while Tim Howard remains out until March while recovering from a groin fracture. Besler (2013) and Howard ('03) are two players who have used the January camp as an international springboard in the past, joining the likes of Geoff Cameron, DeAndre Yedlin, Graham Zusi and Gyasi Zardes as players who have built U.S. careers after impressing on this stage.
Clint Dempsey was also not listed on the official roster, even though Arena had previously indicated that Dempsey would join the U.S. in January and be integrated slowly as he comes back from an irregular heartbeat diagnosis.
"Bruce opened the door to Clint to have him in, if it made sense. At this stage Clint is still progressing and everyone is taking a measured approach," a U.S. Soccer spokesperson told SI.com.
Camp begins on Jan. 10 in Carson, California, but two players will arrive late, according to U.S. Soccer. Jozy Altidore, who is on 99 caps and can hit the 100 milestone at the end of camp, will arrive Jan. 12, while McCarty will show up on Jan. 16.
Here is the U.S. roster in full:
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)