January camp is anti-climactic, but a couple players could use it to make their case for full team inclusion.
Jurgen Klinsmann has called in 25 players to take part in the United States' annual January camp and as per usual, the roster is filled with MLS players. As expected, Omar Gonzalez made the squad and will have the chance to become a fixture for the full team, while last year's rising star Graham Zusi is also on the team that will train for 20 days in Carson, CA before playing Canada in a friendly.
The U.S. will quickly turn its attention from the January 28 friendly against Canada to their first match of the final round of World Cup qualifying on February 6 at Honduras. That match, and the entire year of qualifying, puts added pressure on this year's January camp as Klinsmann hopes to pluck a couple players and throw them in the World Cup qualifying fire.
Gonzalez is the big name on the team because of the United States' struggles in central defense and his second straight great season for the LA Galaxy. If he can convince Klinsmann that he has enough pace to cope with the international game, and more importantly turn his hips quick enough, Gonzalez couple jump towards the top of the U.S. central defender depth chart.
Zusi will be hoping to establish himself as a starter for the full team, after proving in 2012 that he can be a contributor for the Yanks. With Landon Donovan's status in question, there is an outside midfield spot possibly up for grabs and Zusi excelled in it last year so he has already served notice of his intent to be a U.S. regular. Now it is time to take another step.
The midfield is chock full of players who could play a part in qualifying. Besides Zusi, Kyle Beckerman has already shown he can hack it with the full team and he''d be expected to be a leader in January camp. Alejandro Bedoya will make his return to the team in hopes of providing a true winger, while Brad Davis may not have the speed of the traditional winger, but his ability to hit a ball makes him another option on a team devoid of width. Meanwhile, Josh Gatt is everything Davis isn't, with blazing speed, but little idea what to do with the ball at times. Mix Diskerud also makes the team, giving the team creativity and flawless hair.
Up front, Eddie Johnson continues his revival with another call up. Will Bruin will don the U.S. shirt for the first time after a good 2012 season with the Houston Dynamo and las year's MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski will get a look.
Because the camp and match do not fall on a FIFA international date, Klinsmann can only call in players whose clubs are not in season. That limits him to MLS players and those in Scandinavian leagues, with a couple players like Alfredo Morales, who are not playing for their clubs and are given a release thrown in.
Defenders: Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Connor Lade (New York Red Bulls), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Jeff Parke (Philadelphia Union)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (out of contract), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)