USMNT and New Beginnings: A look at how the transition to the next generation has started

The United States Men’s Soccer January camp roster was announced this Monday.  It is clear the transition to a younger and more MLS-based group is well underway.  Let’s take a look at the invitees and do some speculation as to who might stand out and what it could mean for big name veterans who weren’t included.

Defenders

Danny Acosta, Justin Glad (Real Salt Lake)

Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes)

Justin Morrow (Toronto FC)

Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City)

Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Matt Polster, Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire)

Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

 

Midfielders

Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls)

Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, Ian Harkes (DC United)

Marky Delgado (Toronto FC)

Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids)

Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake)

Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution)

Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew FC)

Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

 

Forwards

Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution)

Dom Dwyer (Orlando City)

Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)

Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United)

Rubio Rubin (formerly of FC Utrecht/Netherlands)

C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union)

 

Goalkeepers

Alex Bono (Toronto FC)

Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/Denmark)

Cody Cropper (New England Revolution)

Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew FC)

 

There you have it.  28 out of 30 players currently play for MLS squads, and another, Bill Hamid, spent the first eight years of his career with DC United.  There is no permanent head coach in place at the moment, so this trend could change based on the new appointee’s process.

Since all but three roster spots on the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics can be over the age of 23, there is less pressure to give the old guard a last hurrah.  By the World Cup in Qatar in 2022, Clint Dempsey and DeMarcus Beasley will be 39, Michael Bradley, 35, Alejandro Bedoya, 34, and Jozy Altidore a spry 32.  I can see the latter three still on the roster to provide veteran leadership.  If Dempsey and Beasley played in goal, they’d have a shot.  39 is a few years too old to compete at the other field postitions.  C.J. Sapong could be one of the elder statesmen on the squad, turning 33 years old in 2022.

This is the lineup I’d like to see at the start:

 

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen

Defenders:  Kelyn Rowe    Ike Opara    Walker Zimmerman    Brandon Vincent

Midfielders: Tyler Adams    Wil Trapp    Cristian Roldan

Forwards: Jordan Morris    Juan Agudelo    C.J. Sapong

 

I’m quite excited to see how this new group fares at the January 28th matchup in Los Angeles, vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina.  I believe the level of effort and toughness displayed will be refreshing from a group that hasn’t earned its stripes yet.  There are very few guaranteed spots  and the competition not only from their opponents but more from each other will separate the new class.  The size of Agudelo, Morris and Sapong will keep the U.S. from getting pushed around liked they’ve been in the recent past.  Of course, this is all a moot point if they fail to qualify for Qatar.  I don’t think this group will let that happen.

 

Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

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