The US Men’s National team start off their packed 2021 campaign this month with their annual January camp. While these camps typically consist of domestic players in the midst of their club offseasons, this year’s edition will also include a group of U-23 players preparing for Olympic qualifying.
With the Olympics delayed a year to the summer of 2021, the age requirement has also been pushed back a year. So while the group will nominally be “under 23”, it will in essence be a U-24 group.
So, who could head coach Gregg Berhalter call up for this January camp?
Projected USMNT squad
Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Bill Hamid (DC United), *JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), *CJ Dos Santos (Benfica B), *David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake)
Coming off an exceptional MLS campaign, Matt Turner appears to be the first-choice option among this group (and potentially the entire player pool, according to USMNT Twitter). Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson both boast extensive MLS experience, and have been regulars in the national team setup for the last several years.
Of the U-23 eligible players, JT Marcinkowski broke out for San Jose last season, and seems like the favorite of this group to get meaningful Olympic qualifying minutes.
Nick Lima (San Jose), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC), Chase Gasper (Minnesota United), *Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), *Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls), *Marco Farfan (LAFC), *Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), *Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), *Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), *Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), *Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), *James Sands (New York City FC), *Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), *George Bello (Atlanta United)
With Bryan Reynolds and Mark McKenzie close to securing moves to Europe, the pair seem unlikely to feature in this camp. That leaves Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long as the first-choice pairing in the center.
Henry Kessler is an exciting option after a fantastic rookie year in New England, and will look to build on his domestic campaign to challenge for minutes during the Olympic qualifying run.
There are plenty of exciting fullback options, most of whom are U-23 eligible. Nick Lima and Chase Casper are the two who aren’t eligible for the Olympics, and Berhalter could include additional veteran fullbacks such as Nashville’s Dan Lovitz or San Jose’s Tommy Thompson.
Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), *Keaton Parks (NYCFC), *Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), *Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), *Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati), *Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), *Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City),*Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United), *Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew)
Sebastian Lletget and Cristian Roldan are firmly in the senior team picture, as is Jackson Yueill, who also has U-23 eligibility. Kellyn Acosta made a return to the national team picture in last month’s friendly, while Keaton Parks and Eryk Williamson have been too good in MLS to overlook.
Frankie Amaya was called into the last camp, but forced to withdraw. He and Gianluca Busio are two of the more exciting young midfielders in MLS, while Aidan Morris burst onto the scene with a massive performance for Columbus in the MLS Cup Final.
Tanner Tessman is a really interesting name for the Olympic group, but the young FC Dallas midfielder is set to train with Bayern Munich in the MLS offseason, leaving his status for the January camp in doubt.
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Chris Mueller (Orlando City), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew), *Daryl Dike (Orlando City), *Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), *Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), *Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), *Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas)
Jozy Altidore has struggled with injuries for the last several seasons, but when healthy he’s still the best forward in the player pool. Gyasi Zardes was arguably the best forward in MLS this year, and remains a favorite of Berhalter.
From the U-23 eligible side, Daryl Dike wasn’t able to play during the last camp due to injury, but is an extremely exciting prospect for both the Olympic and full team after a stellar season in Orlando. Likewise, Ricardo Pepi is another intriguing option. At just 17 years old, the attacker scored four goals for Dallas this season and is one of the brighter young talents in the pool.
Which players do you think should get the callup for the January camp? Let us know in the comments!