Well it’s now 2018 and unfortunately the USMNT does not have the World Cup to look forward to. That has been covered at length over the last two months. Now it’s time to start looking to the future. It’s time to bring in younger and untested players and see what they’re made of. That certainly seems to be the case with this particular January Camp roster. And at the end of every January Camp is a game to see how well players picked things up in the camp. The opponent for this January Camp: Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The roster for this January Camp was released early in the month and right away it was very obvious that Dave Sarachan was continuing the trend he started in November against Portugal by calling in mostly youngsters and untested players in an effort to start building for the future. A total of 30 players were called in and an astonishing 15 of them have zero caps. A further 11 of them have nine caps or fewer. In fact, only four players have double-digit caps: Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo and Jordan Morris. It’s also noteworthy that for the second straight game/camp, the US roster is gloriously free of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. But among the players who have zero caps, there are plenty that are exciting and hold a lot of promise. It should be noted that some of them have been on the fringes of the USMNT picture for some time but never quite broken in: players like Bill Hamid, Rubio Rubin, Will Trapp and CJ Sapong. But other players are getting their first ever look for the US, most notably Marlon Hairston of the Colorado Rapids (a product of an excellent college program at the University of Louisville) and Ian Harkes of DC United (son of the former USMNT great John Harkes).
In the wake of the US failing to qualify for the World Cup this summer, there was some debate about whether the January Camp should be held or not. But it should be said that the failure to qualify for the World Cup makes the January Camp all the more necessary as it offers an opportunity to begin the rebuild of the USMNT. In fact, some could argue that the US should have played two games in Europe in November (they only played one), two games at home for the January Camp (they’re only playing one) and then play two more on the road in Euro during the March FIFA window (none are scheduled yet). The purpose of that would be two-fold: to keep giving international minutes in a low stakes environment to young players who will make up the core of the team going forward and to keep the USMNT somewhat visible, as without a World Cup to play in there won’t be nearly as many people tuned in to the team.