Theme from Blood Orgy of the Atomic Fern- This is your roster for the 2016 version of the annual USMNT January camp (from US Soccer):
U.S. Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
DEFENDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (unattached)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (unattached), Perry Kitchen (unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (unattached), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
What do you think? Is it a little chaotic? Why is there another Stanford guy on the team?
Is Klinsmann's kid looking at Stanford for grad school or something?— Matthew Tomaszewicz (@shinguardian) January 8, 2016
I've found myself scratching my head on this one a little bit. Off the top of my head, it's good to see Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani get a summons. Even more so, it's good to see our man Kellyn Acosta getting to run with the big dogs after his breakout season in midfield, even if it's probably more about seeing if he's ready to be a key part of the U-23s efforts to advance to Brazil.
Of the 25 men called into camp, nine are Olympic-eligible, but two of the eight defenders are mainly midfielders (Polster, Acosta) for their club teams which instantly brings back memories of Alejandro Bedoya getting overrun as a defensive midfielder against Brazil. At least with Acosta, he's played a lot of outside back (both for FC Dallas and the U20s), but if it was to be a joint camp, certainly they could have called up another pure defender from MLS who has earned a first/another look. Matt Hedges, in particular, is the most obvious slight coming off a Best XI performance.
Another thing that struck me is that the camp roster is smaller than I thought. With the Olympic squad in do or die mode in a little over two months, I really thought you'd have a fuller version of both the U23s and the full national team. Was this by organizational design, or is the federation sending a subtle message to Klinsmann that they're saving a little money just in case they need to buy him out in April? Regardless of the composition, it is encouraging to see Klinsmann try harder to get younger this January, although one does have to ask about...
Bitchin' Camaro: When I was 12 years old, my cousin helped me get some summer custodial work in Springfield, Missouri. While swinging my broom like an adopted Van Dykian chimney sweep, I broke a light bulb in a dim basement in the Ozarks because (duh) I was trying to impress some chicks. I was fired on the spot and forced to ride home with the head custodian.
On the ride home from downtown Springfield (both real places), I was given a sincere lecture about fucking off sweeping. If I could apply myself like (name redacted), I could revel in bourgeoisie bliss like (name redacted) does and afford the creature comfort that is the Pontiac Fiero.
I say all of this because I'm riddled with nostalgia for the the greatness of Camaros. You see, a decade ago, I enjoyed a purer, more delicious version of EDM than the kids today love; and I happened to roll with (no effin' way) like-minded, glow-stickin' partisans who would roll 'Maro without a hint of irony. I also have a similar affinity for the creature comfort that is Jermaine Jones. Ah, if only he'd been healthy for World Cup 2010...pity.
That said, outside of being a Klinsmann favorite and a leader on the team, I don't see much value including JJ in this camp. He's a known quantity, he's out of contract, and he'll be on the downhill side of his 37th year when it's time to pack the bags for Russia in 2018. I'm certainly not dead set on him being put out to pasture, but the odds are against him at this point. I'm also not totally convinced he can't be a good sweeper, but if that's a look Klinsmann wants to tinker with at a later date, I definitely don't want our National Team to be the laboratory where that competency is developed. Much like myself back in the day, Jones has no immediate business manning a broom.
Big Lizard in my Backyard: After initially accepting a call up to the January camp, our own Jesse Gonzalez had a change of heart and accepted an invitation to join the already Olympic-Qualified Mexico U23s for their training camp. While my colleague Jason Poon sees this as a good thing, I see little positive about sending our own giant shot-stopping wunderkind down south. Although it may not be a direct or immediate loss for our Nats given our traditionally strong goalkeeping pool, Jesse managed to show in 3 months time that he's ready for primetime, and I have serious doubts that Mexico has anyone else in their pipeline with as high a ceiling. In what alternate universe is it a good idea for our chief rival to upgrade at our expense? If he does ultimately commit to El Tri for all times, I fear for our fortunes against Mexico in the not so distant future. Balls.
Who else were you disappointed not to get the call/accept a call? Thoughts below, please. If you want to commiserate about the Men's National Team or the untimely demise of David Bowie, I'm your guy.