It's a young group, younger than usual, that Bob Bradley is bringing into camp next month with the U.S. national team, signaling the start to a new four-year cycle rather than preparation for next summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup.
A.J. DeLaGarza, so impressive during Major League Soccer's stretch run, gets his first call-up to the national team; he'll be joined by Galaxy backline mates Sean Franklin (Palmdale/Highland HS and Cal State Northridge) and Omar Gonzalez in the Jan. 4-22 camp at Home Depot Center.
Chivas USA forward Justin Braun and three players with local ties -- Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA) and Colorado Rapids defender Marvell Wynne (UCLA) and midfielder Jeff Larentowicz (born in Pasadena) -- also are on the 24-man roster, from which Bradley will draw his lineup for the Jan. 24 friendly against Chile at HDC.
The annual January camp, always at HDC, usually is used to scout younger players -- including those who emerged during the previous MLS campaign -- and give U.S.- and Scandinavia-based veterans a foundation to build fitness before their seasons begin in the late winter or spring.
This time Bradley called in very few veterans. Sweden-based midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is the only player from the U.S. pre-World Cup training camp on the roster, and none who went to South Africa is involved. A dozen players are uncapped, five more have just one cap, nobody has made more than six international appearances -- across the roster, there are only 28 caps.
A rundown on the two dozen players coming to HDC:
Dominic Cervi (Celtic FC/Scotland): Uncapped 6-foot-6 keeper out of the University of Tulsa, who turned down MLS in 2008 and later that year signed with the Scottish power, will be in his third U.S. camp. On loan this month to Dundee FC.
Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire): Uncapped 6-4 keeper of Jamaican descent with U.S. U-20 experience who had a fine rookie campaign with the Chicago Fire.
Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids): MLS Cup-winning netminder, uncapped, who returned to MLS (he played for Chicago in 2004-07) after spending 2008 in England, on trial with a number of clubs and
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake): One of MLS's premier goalkeepers has played just four times for the U.S., but he was the No. 4 goalkeeper heading into the World Cup, in which teams field only three. At 31, the oldest player on this roster.
A.J. DeLaGarza (Galaxy): Two-year MLS veteran, making his U.S. camp debut, can play in the middle or on either flank; developed a fine partnership with former University of Maryland teammate Gonzalez in central defense after Gregg Berhalter's mystery ailment.
Sean Franklin (Galaxy): 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year, who was on the bench for a U.S. qualifier in November 2008 and pulled out of last year's January camp with a hernia injury, was among MLS's best right backs last season.
Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy): Towering center back, an MLS Best XI selection this year, was rewarded for his 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year campaign with a call-up to last January's camp. Debuted in the August friendly against Brazil.
Ugo Ihemelu (FC Dallas): Nigeria-born, Texas-raised center back -- key to FC Dallas' MLS Cup title-game run -- is headed to his third January camp; he made appearances against Norway in 2006 and Sweden in 2009. Former Galaxy back was called up to Canada's national team in 2008, but questions over his eligibility prevented him from playing for the Canucks.
Zach Loyd (FC Dallas): FC Dallas' first-round draft pick last January (out of North Carolina) enjoyed a decent rookie season, primarily as an outside back.
Ryan Miller (Halmstads BK/Sweden): Notre Dame product spent time with the Columbus Crew and D.C. United, seeing virtually no first-team action; his career finally took off when he headed to Sweden in 2009.
Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls): Center back was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year, made his U.S. debut in last month's victory at South Africa.
Anthony Wallace (Colorado Rapids): U.S. youth national team veteran was a first-round draft choice (by FC Dallas) in 2007 but couldn't crack the starting lineup. Finally emerged after a trade last season to Colorado. Was taken by Portland in MLS's expansion draft, then traded back to the Rapids.
Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids): Speedy, athletic defender (his father, also Marvell, was a major-league baseball player) played at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2008 Beijing Olympics and receive sporadic full national team call-ups after impressing as a right back for Toronto FC. Switched to center back after a trade last March to Colorado and had arguably his best MLS season.
Eric Alexander (FC Dallas): Central midfielder grew enormously during his rookie season in MLS; a promising two-way player.
Alejandro Bedoya (Írebro SK/Sweden): A skillful attacker from a long line of pro players -- his father and grandfather played professionally in Colombia -- who left Boston College for Sweden rather than join MLS. He has made six international appearances (most on the roster) and was on the 30-man preliminary World Cup roster.
Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes): Second-year MLS defensive midfielder, a college star at Wake Forest, made his U.S. debut at the 2009 Gold Cup. Moved last season from Toronto FC to San Jose, contributing to the Earthquakes' first playoff run since their reinstatement.
Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek IF/Norway): Norwegian-born midfielder, 20, whose mother in American, went back and forth between U.S. and Norwegian youth national teams before expressing his preference this year to play with the Americans. Had an impressive debut last month against South Africa.
Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids): Ivy Leaguer partered Shalrie Joseph for five years in New England's midfield, then had a sensational campaign last year after a trade to Colorado. This is the first call-up for the Pasadena-born, Philadelphia-reared holding midfielder, who was the best player in the MLS Cup final.
Dax McCarty (D.C. United): Enterprising central midfielder with U.S. U-20 and U-23 experience was a key to FC Dallas' attack last season, then moved to D.C. United (via Portland in the expansion draft) after the MLS Cup final. Debuted for the national team in November 2009.
Brek Shea (FC Dallas): Dynamic if inconsistent 20-year-old winger was schooled at the U-17 residency in Florida, starred for the U-20 side and was a huge part of FC Dallas' title-game run last season. The tall (6-4), athletic attacker was called up (but did not play) for a World Cup qualifier in 2008, and made his debut last month against South Africa, becoming the first player born in the 1990s to play for the full national team.
Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls): Colombian-born teen phenom, who has starred for the U.S. U-17 and U-20 teams, impressed in late-season action for the Red Bulls, then made his international debut last month against South Africa, scoring the lone goal and becoming, at six days shy of his 18th birthday, the youngest player to tally for the U.S.
Justin Braun (Chivas USA): Tall forward (6-3), discovered by former Chivas coach Preki playing for an amateur team in Utah, enjoyed a breakout campaign for the Goats in 2009, demonstrating a field sense previously absent and scoring a team-best nine goals. Uncapped, but he was in last January's camp.
Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City): Son of former Canadian national-teamer (and MLS forward) Alex Bunbury opted for the U.S. over Canada and debuted in last month's win over South Africa. Enjoyed a superb rookie season after winning the MAC Hermann Award as college soccer's top player last year at Akron; has been on trial with (and could be transferring to) England's Stoke City.
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): Six-year vet exploded into the upper tier of MLS players in 2010, winning the Golden Boot with 18 goals to carry the Earthquakes into the playoffs. He netted 19 in all after scoring just 11 in his first five seasons. Getting his first call-up less than a month before his 28th birthday.