USMNT

USMNT January camp: 3 eye-catching inclusions on Berhalter's roster

Chris Smith
Berhalter will take another look at his domestic player pool before World Cup qualifying resumes.
Berhalter will take another look at his domestic player pool before World Cup qualifying resumes. / Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
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19 Major League Soccer players have been called up to a United States Men's National Team training camp to take place January 7-21.

The roster will convene in Phoenix, Arizona, to build match fitness ahead of the USMNT's upcoming World Cup qualifying clashes against El Salvador, Canada, and Honduras. The players will also participate in a number of behind-closed-doors scrimmages.

“Our focus for the next two weeks is to prepare the domestic-based players to be included in the World Cup qualifying training camp,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a press release.

“This upcoming window presents an opportunity to move closer to our ultimate goal of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

The camp will offer another opportunity for MLS-based players to impress Berhalter before their European counterparts become available for selection again later this month. A similar group of players beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 in a friendly just before Christmas.

Here is the USMNT roster in full:

Goalkeepers

  • Sean Johnson – New York City FC
  • Gabriel Slonina – Chicago Fire FC
  • Matt Turner – New England Revolution 

Defenders

  • George Bello – Atlanta United
  • DeJuan Jones – New England Revolution
  • Brooks Lennon – Atlanta United
  • Aaron Long – New York Red Bulls
  • Miles Robinson – Atlanta United
  • Walker Zimmerman – Nashville SC 

Midfielders

  • Kellyn Acosta – Colorado Rapids
  • Cole Bassett – Colorado Rapids
  • Djordje Mihailovic – CF Montréal
  • Sebastian Lletget – New England Revolution
  • Cristian Roldan – Seattle Sounders
  • Jackson Yueill – San Jose Earthquakes 

Forwards

  • Paul Arriola – D.C. United
  • Jesús Ferreira – FC Dallas
  • Jordan Morris – Seattle Sounders
  • Gyasi Zardes – Columbus Crew

Three eye-catching call-ups to the USMNT January camp

1. DeJuan Jones

DeJuan Jones was second for minutes, first for tackles, scored three goals, and provided four assists for the runaway Supporters' Shield winners in 2021, so it's no surprise to see him appear on Berhalter's radar.

In truth, the chances of Jones getting regular minutes for the USMNT are slim given the absolute depth of talent in his position. But there's always room on a roster for an in-form, two-way full-back who can put out fires in his own box and light them up at the other end of the pitch.

Jones recently signed a new deal with the New England Revolution, and if nothing else, it's nice to see his fine 2021 form get a nod of appreciation from the national team set-up. It's up to him to do enough to make this a regular occurrence.

2. Gabriel Slonina

When Gabriel Slonina spoke to 90min about his international future back in November, he was very much undecided with Poland still on the table. Since then, Berhalter has been working on bringing him around to the Stars and Stripes, calling him up (but not playing him) in last month's friendly, and now bringing him into this camp.

There are some flaws in Slonina's game - he certainly needs to find some composure with the ball at his feet. But you'd do well to find many more talented 17-year-old goalkeepers on the planet right now, let alone in MLS. He's a brilliantly instinctive shot-stopper and commands his box with the authority of a veteran.

There's talk of European interest in Slonina already. He won't move yet and has a huge year ahead of him as the Chicago Fire's No.1. Berhalter would do well to keep him around the USMNT set-up as well. He has the talent to be the starting goalkeeper for the next 15 years.

3. Aaron Long

Aaron Long was linked to all manner of clubs last January - even Liverpool, who suffered a remarkable injury crisis at center-back. Once again, he didn't get his move, but maintained his professionalism and was arguably the New York Red Bulls' best player during the opening five games of the season.

Then an ACL injury in May put him on the sidelines and we haven't seen him in competitive action since.

That alone makes his inclusion here eye-catching. But with 21 caps to his name already, Long has experience at this level and when fully fit, is a useful depth piece at center-back.

Berhalter is still trying to work out his best combination between the likes of John Brooks, Chris Richards, and Miles Robinson. He clearly wants to see where Long's fitness is at with the 29-year-old potentially able to plug gaps while other starting-caliber candidates prove their worth.

At worst, Long will have his recovering ACL put firmly to the test ahead of the 2022 MLS season.

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