So the camp’s purpose varies. Sometimes it’s a head start on fitness. Sometimes it’s about hard and fast prep for a meaningful World Cup qualifier. Sometimes it’s about examining a bigger crop newbies ahead of a fresh World Cup cycle. Either way, there’s always plenty of trial and error that lead to proportionally predictable results: a good “hit” here or there but a lot of “misses,” players who demonstrate through performance that they are overmatched at international level.
Even the size of the camp varies measurably; last year Klinsmann summoned 28 players, five more than this time around.
“The January camp has always been the camp of opportunities for players that badly, badly want to knock at the door of the senior national team and want to become a player of international status,” Klinsmann said in the federation’s press release. “Here we are giving that opportunity now to kind of already mature players like a Tony Tchani, like Ethan Finlay, or Luis Robles. You want these players really to come in and make a point and take that opportunity to try to come back into that group by the end of March and maybe play World Cup Qualifying.”
There’s a lot to like here as the camp plays out over a month in currently marshy Southern California, culminating in friendlies against Canada and Iceland. The camp starts Jan. 11 and finishes Feb. 5 with the second of two matches at the StubHub Center just outside of Los Angeles.
So, a better and longer look at Darlington Nagbe? Yes, give us a heaping helping of that, pretty please. Same for Jordan Morris. This is the chance for them to more solidly establish themselves as longtime roster staples.
It’s a good chance for Michael Bradley to put his so-so 2015 year behind him and find an early, appropriate pace to ease into a better 2016. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting the best from the longtime “brains” of this operation.
San Jose’s Fatai Alashe, Chicago Fire’s Matt Polster, Columbus’ Will Trapp and Tony Tchani all have an opportunity to establish themselves as the program’s No. 6, the heir to Kyle Beckerman’s role. You could perhaps add Dallas’ Kellyn Acosta to that list since he plays as a dual-defensive screener for Oscar Pareja, although he’s listed on the U.S. roster as defender, which is where he played in last year’s Under-20 World Cup.