MLS Talent Takes Center Stage in Berhalter's First USMNT Roster for January Camp
New U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter released his first roster on Thursday, calling up 27 MLS players for the team’s January camp ahead of friendlies against Panama on January 27 in Glendale, Ariz., and Costa Rica on February 2 in San Jose, Calif. The annual camp does not take place during a FIFA window, which is why only domestic players have been called up.
By far the most experienced player in the camp will be Michael Bradley, who has 142 caps, followed by Gyasi Zardes (40) and Kellyn Acosta (23). Players who might have been expected on the roster but aren’t are Jozy Altidore, Darlington Nagbe, Tim Parker, Brad Guzan, Jorge Villafaña, Jonathan Amon and Romain Gall, among others.
The players will report on January 6 to the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center near San Diego—a change of pace from the usual January camp location in Carson, CA. It’s a flashback in time to the 1990s, when the USMNT would often be based in Chula Vista, but Berhalter said there’s a reason for it.
“Being in Chula Vista will help us create a team environment as we start to establish our culture and really be able to work on the details of our style of play,” said Berhalter in a statement.
One additional player will be added to the roster before the start of camp.
“In putting together this domestic-based roster, we started with a number of players who we think can be a core part of the group moving forward,” Berhalter said in the statement. “We then looked at players that excelled this year in Major League Soccer, and finally chose players that can play a specific role in our game model. We are very excited to start to implement our ideas about the style of play and the culture we want to develop in the national team.”
GOALKEEPERS: Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
Steffen, whose move to Manchester City next July recently became official, is the clear No. 1 here. The only slight surprises are the exclusion of Guzan and the inclusion of the 29-year-old Johnson.
DEFENDERS: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Greg Garza (FC Cincinnati), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Keegan Rosenberry (Colorado Rapids), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Berhalter opted not to bring in centerback Parker, who just signed an MLS-lucrative contract extension with the Red Bulls, or left back Villafaña. But there are several promising young players here, including Cannon (20 years old), Glad (21), McKenzie (19) and Trusty (20).
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Cristián Roldán (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
Berhalter clearly wants Bradley in camp to bring a level of leadership that’s hard to find in the U.S. player pool these days. The call-up of the 20-year-old Mihailovic is an intriguing one, as is the omission of Nagbe.
FORWARDS: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Christian Ramírez (LAFC), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
Ebobisse had a good second half of the season with Portland. Zardes revived his career under Berhalter in Columbus in 2018, and Ramírez had some productive moments with LAFC as well.
Berhalter has been visiting U.S. players based in Europe over the past week.