One of the most exciting aspects of the United States men's national team's January camp each year is the opportunity to see new faces get their chance to impress. It will be no different this year as MLSSoccer is reporting that three Columbus Crew members will be getting the call-up from Jurgen Klinsmann. U-23 mainstay Wil Trapp is an obvious call-up, while newcomers Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani will also be on the roster for the annual training camp.
Trapp could be the future for the USMNT in the midfield, but his inclusion is purely to prepare him for the Olympic qualifying playoff against Colombia in March. The call-up of Finlay is a reward for having such a productive season in MLS. The winger scored 12 goals and added 13 assists on the campaign. Not calling him up just wasn't an option for Klinsmann. Then there's Tony Tchani, perhaps the most intriguing inclusion on the roster.
The 26-year-old midfielder was all set to take the field for his native Cameroon in November until an injury derailed those plans. He became a citizen of the U.S. in 2013 and now has reportedly been called up by Klinsmann.
Kyle Beckerman's decline in form has been a great cause for concern over the past year. The USMNT staff have tried to replace him with several different candidates but all have fallen short. Tchani offers new hope for a direct replacement in the defensive midfield role. He's a physically imposing player that can clog up the midfield playing in front of a back line. Exactly the type of player the USMNT have desperately been seeking.
This is the perfect opportunity for Tchani to make his name known to Jurgen Klinsmann and to stake his claim on thin USMNT defensive midfielder depth chart. Partnered alongside Trapp for the last two seasons in Columbus, Tchani has been one of the most consistent performers at the position in MLS. If he can replicate his club success at the international level, the USMNT could have found themselves an important piece to their difficult-to-solve puzzle.
Every year someone takes their opportunity in January camp and turns it into long sustained success with the USMNT. Last year it was Gyasi Zardes, before him it was DeAndre Yedlin. Tchani is just one of many new faces to get their opportunity this year, but one that has the biggest chance to fill an important hole that the team is currently lacking.