With Christmas around the corner it isn't just Santa Claus making a list of those who have been good this year.
Bob Bradley is making a list as well and in a few weeks we will find out which players he has selected for the annual January U.S. national team training camp. There are plenty of MLS candidates to choose from after a season that saw many new faces emerge, and some familiar faces play really well.
Last year, Bradley brought in a camp of 30 players, made up mainly of MLS players, with some Scandinavian-based players mixed in. We aren't likely to see a list for next month's camp until closer to Christmas, but based on the recent MLS season, and the performances of some European-based players in recent months, there is a group of players you can see getting the nod when Bradley unveils his list.
With that in mind, here is the projected 30-man roster I see Bradley calling in for the January U.S. national team camp:
PROJECTED USMNT TRAINING CAMP ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS– Kevin Hartman, Nick Rimando, Matt Pickens, Sean Johnson
DEFENDERS– Clarence Goodson, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Nat Borchers, George John, Heath Pearce, Marvell Wynne, Kevin Alston, Sean Franklin
MIDFIELDERS– Alejandro Bedoya, Benny Feilhaber, Mikkel Diskerud, Brek Shea, Eddie Gaven, Bobby Convey, Jeff Larentowicz, Geoff Cameron, Robbie Rogers, Kyle Beckerman, Dax McCarty
FORWARDS- Edson Buddle, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Chris Wondolowski, Justin Braun, Conor Casey
Some quick thoughts:
Call it the John Kerry double flip flop. I originally listed Goodson, but took him off considering his impending move to Danish club Brondby, but with Brondby also off until March, Clarence Goodson should get a call. No, he's got nothing to prove, but he's a veteran and the camp needs veterans. If he passes on this camp, Chad Marshall would make sense as a replacement.
One player who nearly made this list is Ike Opara. The San Jose rookie had a great start to his first MLS season before a broken foot sidelined him. He's a future national team player, but given the fact he just returned to training in November makes me wonder if he would get the call ahead of any of the above centerbacks. If Bradley is intrigued enough by his potential, Opara could be making a trip to training camp.
It wouldn't surprise me if Gale Agbossoumounde got called in so he could get some quality training in, much as was the case in South Africa last month.
Kevin Hartman was in camp a year ago, but will he be looking to rest his the knee injury that hobbled him late in the year? There aren't a ton of goalkeeping options to choose from.
Landon Donovan is absent from this list, as he should be. Let's face it, he is either going on loan to Everton again or he's taking a long and deserved break.
Neither Logan Pause or Brian Carroll are on this list despite starting against South Africa. Why? It's fair to say Beckerman, Larentowicz and McCarty probably all have higher places on the USMNT depth chart than Pause and Carroll.
I'm open to some suggestions, and could swap in a name here or there. There were a handful of players who I could see getting a look. Any one of three San Jose defenders in Brandon McDonald, Jason Hernandez and Opara, to Rapids defender Drew Moor. Attacking wise, someone like Justin Mapp enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in Philadelphia, and young goalkeeper Brad Knighton might be someone to give a camp look at if players like Hartman and Rimando can't make it. Chris Pontius is someone who would be a good player to invite but he's still recovering from surgery.
There are plenty of players who people always bring up, but who aren't eligible to play for the USA. Players like Sebastien LeToux, Danny Mwanga, Tony Tchani and Rodney Wallace. Oh, and Andy Najar. If you're not eligible to play for the USA yet, you're not getting a call-up, so people should probably stop considering those type of players as options. At least until they secure American citizenship.
Those hoping to see some European-based benchwarmers making the trip for this camp shouldn't hold their breath. Last year's camp only included four non-MLS players (based in Sweden, Norway and Denmark).
What do you think of the group? Who is missing from the list that should have made it? Who's name are you happy to see included?
Share your thoughts below.