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USMNT: A new year begins

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.

Jeff Parke

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.

No Freddy

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?

Roster makeup

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.



  1. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    Glad you wrote on this topic. Like most rosters, there are hits and misses. One major question mark to me this time is Conor Lade.
    CONOR LADE?!?!?
    I understand he is the 25th man and there are others who inclusions can be argued, but Lade’s call up is beyond that.
    He had a decent year, sometimes bordering on good. And of course it ended with the other team attacking him as the weak point all game. His ceiling is questionable. It’s not even that I think Williams or Okugo would have been better call ups. McCarty would have been. Steve Clark. Matt Hedges. etc, etc, etc.

  2. I think most of these call ups are more about testing these younger or in Parke’s case less experienced guys on the national level. I fully expect the lineup to look different once the hex starts.

  3. I think Okugo is the only snub from the Union that I can make a strong argument for. His youth and potential combined with the fact that he made a pretty smooth transition to CB this year would have made him a good candidate to make this team. The defenders chosen sans Gonzalez and Besler are probably fringe options at best. I’m hoping Okugo has a shot at the Gold Cup, though things could change if he’s moved back to the midfield.

    I could argue for Williams too considering form wasn’t a deciding factor (i.e. Buddle, Agudelo, Lade). Williams didn’t have the best of years, in part due to injury, but he’s a pretty good prospect at RB.

    The midfield is pretty solid in my opinion. I can’t really make an argument for Marfan and definitely can’t for Adu. That being said, Marfan could easily be an option for the Gold Cup now that the Union has a better situation at forward going into 2013.

    As far as McInerney, I think it’s going to always be an uphill battle for him. Klinsmann has a couple of young forwards he likes in Boyd, Agudelo, and Bruin. I could see him becoming our Taylor Twellman of sorts. Good MLS goal scorer, but not quite there on the international stage. That’s not a knock on McInerney. If he ever came close to being as accomplished as Twellman in MLS, I think we’d all be very, very happy.

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