PREDICTED JANUARY CAMP ROSTER
After strong 2013, Zusi could be the leader of the January camp
Yesterday it was announced that US national team will face Canada in January but who will be on the team?
The annual January camp has been a productive tool for the US national team over the last decade and the 2012 version was one of the most successful.
In that camp, Geoff Cameron and Graham Zusi were identified and both are important parts of the full team. In addition Michael Parkhurst improved his standing in the eyes of Jurgen Klinsmann.
Predicting the January camp roster is always tricky because coaches could have various objectives. As we know it primarily consists of players in MLS and European leagues with long winter breaks. There are a few exceptions. Last year Jermaine Jones joined the team while serving a long suspension and Ricardo Clark was allowed to play as he wasn't in Eintracht Frankfurt's plans.
But aside from that, it is also tricky to make a prediction since we don't know what Klinsmann's objectives are. Is it geared to players who can play now or younger players with potential?
Not to mention that there are always potential transfers that can pop up and remove a player from camp.
Right now, there are question marks surrounding Conor O'Brien, Mikkel Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya, and Michael Parkhurst who are all out of contract (and denoted with a *). For now, I'll include them but I realize that by next month there is a strong chance each of them could be playing in a league that would prevent their participation in the January camp.
A few other notes, I am going to say that Landon Donovan will not be on the roster as he reevaluates his career. Also, I don't believe any US U-20's will make the roster as they are preparing for World Cup qualifying as well. Finally, I will leave out players from European top leagues including suspended players liike Jermaine Jones.
With that being said here is my predicted 26 player roster. I am naming a large team since I know that the club situation for some players will change and will not be able to play.
Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson get the call because of their experience with the US national team. But who will be the third keeper? Nick Rimando is a proven veteran and Klinsmann likes him. Dan Kennedy and Tally Hall are good MLS keepers. But I am going to go with Steve Clark who was outstanding in Norway where he won the Tippeligaen goalkeeper of the year by the country's largest media outlet.
2013 could be a big year for Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez as the US national team is struggling in central defense and new players will have to be introduced. Austin Berry is coming off a strong rookie season and Amobi Okugo has impressed after switching to the backline.
The midfield in January could be very interesting and there is the potential of having several key players emerge. Nick DeLeon looks to have the tools of being a quality player and Perry Kitchen was outstanding as a defensive midfielder. Pontius is well overdue for a cap and his playmaking could be a huge boost to the team. Conor O'Brien has enjoyed a nice ride under the radar but after leaving Sonderjyske in December, a move to a different European League could prevent him from playing.
Chris Wondolowski has been terrific in MLS but this camp could give Klinsmann another chance to figure out a way to translate that success into the international arena. Will Bruin, CJ Sapong, and Jack McInerney are three players who have shown in MLS to have potential while Juan Agudelo is likely to continue to get callups after the Russia friendly. Eddie Johnson has earned another callup after the October World Cup qualifiers.