Ladies, the future of our team is looking very bright. Now if we could also get Mwanga and Najar, oh man .
The academies are starting to make their impact
BY ADAM SERRANO
For the United States National team, there are plenty of new faces in an old place.
The annual January camp kicked off on Wednesday at the Home Depot Center ahead of the January 23rd match-up with Chile. However, in the back of the minds of many are international tournaments on the horizon and with those tournaments coming up it is a chance for Bob Bradley to look at a host of new players.
12 players are in camp who have zero caps for the full national squad and six players took the field for the first time for the US with Eric Alexander, A.J. DeLaGarza, Sean Johnson, Zach Loyd, Ryan Miller and Anthony Wallace in their first camp. With a camp of many untested players, Bradley tempered the expectations on the first day.
"When you have a camp like this after 18 days, it's an opportunity for guys to get on the field and see where they stand," said Bradley. "In a big pool of players, we know what camps look like with certain guys there or not there is different. Your picture of a match after [the camp] has to take into account these factors, but it is still a good chance to see what it looks like."
The January camp has seen a number of players graduating to the first team with 10 on the 2010 World Cup roster went through the January camp at various times in the last cycle. The World Cup may be three years away, but the January camp is a chance for many players to put themselves in the conversation for a consideration on that squad.
While there is still plenty of time before the start of the Gold Cup preparations, Bradley admitted that one of the main focuses of the camp is the 2012 Olympics. Qualification does not begin until the early part of 2012, but an emphasis will be placed on which players can be potential factors for London.It is still unknown who will lead the U-23s in London, but as US Soccer looks to connect their various teams, Bradley may be on the touchline for the team.
"Part of the thinking of this camp was looking at guys who were Olympic age eligible and starting that process," said Bradley. "Similar to the last cycle, you can do some things early, but at the end of this MLS season, there will need to be a group coming together as well as work [next year] and hopefully being in London with a good team."
With competitions like the Gold Cup and the Olympics are months and years away, the focus remains on Chile. These matches can be of vital importance for players like 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski, who is seeking his first cap for the national team. With his first day in the books, Wondolowski expressed excitement at earning his opportunity to make an impression with the national team.
"It's an honor and it has always been one of my biggest goals to play for the national team," said Wondolowski. "I'm looking it as an opportunity to learn from all of these guys from MLS and other places as well as coach Bradley. I know that they have a lot of knowledge and I just want to soak up as much as I can."
There were several notable absences on the first day of camp as Juan Agudelo and Alejandro Bedoya were not in camp. Agudelo is still currently with the US U-20s and will be in camp on January 7th. Bedoya will not join the camp until January 15th after Örebro chose to maintain his services for the start of their own preseason.
Via Soccer By Ives