On Sunday, Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 25-man roster for January’s USMNT training camp, which presents us with an opportunity to assess the state of national team affairs in the new year.
Klinsmann’s roster gave Philadelphia fans a late holiday gift in the form of a call-up for new Union man Jeff Parke. As Ed noted yesterday, Parke’s second call-up is the first ever senior team call-up for a Union player, with his first coming a year ago. While we in Philly have yet to see Parke suit up in the blue and gold, it is nevertheless an encouraging sign—Klinsmann shares John Hackworth’s good opinion of our new player.
At 30 years of age, Parke’s national-team career is starting late, but his timing might be perfect, as the most troublesome area for Klinsmann’s US teams has been central defense, with only Geoff Cameron seeming to stake his claim for a starting spot. Many are excited to see Omar Gonzalez, also in camp, but Parke could play his way into contention, and just in time (we hope) for a World Cup.
While Parke got the call, Union fans will note that, once again, Freddy Adu did not, which surely underscores questions about how he is rated by Klinsmann.
Here’s a question for you: Which Union player do you think will be the next to be called up to the senior national team squad?
The 25-man squad is very MLS-heavy, which is to be expected, with most Europe-based players thick in the middle of their seasons. Surely, players like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley will come in closer to game-time, but this January camp gives Klinsmann his first chance in months to see new faces and fringe players. More than that, Klinsmann now has 20 days’-worth of training time to continue implementing his desired playing style, especially offensively.
One non-MLS player included in the camp is Mix Diskerud. His appearances for the national team have been brief but memorable, including scoring late to earn the US a draw in Russia on November 14. Joshua Gatt, another young, non-MLS player, is also in camp and one to watch.
After central defense, the striking situation has been Klinsmann’s toughest nut to crack, and the crew brought in for this camp is a hungry one, headlined by Chris Wondolowski. After his record-breaking season, it is only right to see him called up. Hopefully, Klinsmann will find a way for Wondo to translate his club form into national-team success. Eddie Johnson is another old head, and hopes to continue his NT renaissance. Edson Buddle also gets a call-up.
Otherwise, it’s youngsters, including Will Bruin. After scoring 12 goals for Houston this year, and playing all the way into the MLS Cup Final, Bruin is another potent option for Klinsmann to consider, along with Juan Agudelo.
Who’s the next Graham Zusi?
Last January, Kansas City’s Graham Zusi was called into camp and began a breakout year for the USMNT, picking up the slack for an often-absent Landon Donovan on the wings. Who is going to take their chance in 2013? The games mean a heck of a lot, as we all know, so it’s going to take something special to earn a spot. Who’s got next?
USMNT New Year’s Resolutions
While there is really only one goal for the USMNT this year—qualify for the World Cup Finals—many will not see Klinsmann’s tenure as a success until the team starts winning with style and flair. Combining the disparate talents of players that play on dozens of different teams into a coherent, fluid, attacking team is a difficult proposition, but that is exactly the task before Klinsmann now. Beyond that, the US is the best team, bar Mexico, in CONCACAF, and needs to start playing like it by beating the minnows and qualifying for the WC without the drama we’ve come to expect. It’s been too long since that magic run in Germany in 2006. We need new memories.