There must be something at the Home Depot Center when it comes to defenders. Three of the seven defenders called up today for the annual January U.S. Men's National Team training camp play for the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. The Chivas representative is none other than Heath Pearce, who has been a part of Jurgen Klinsmann's national team mix since the German got the job this summer. Pearce was called up for Klinsmann's first three matches as USMNT boss, but he didn't see any game action in those matches, the last two because he picked up a hamstring injury with Chivas before going away on international duty.
A few caveats to keep in mind regarding this camp, in the past colloquially known as "Camp Cupcake" by fans, and being called by some "Camp Strudel" because of Klinsmann and the infusion of German-Americans in the player pool. First, this is a camp meant only for players whose clubs are out of season, so that means mostly MLS players were invited. The initial list of 20 had only two players who are playing abroad: Ricardo Clark, who is with Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2nd Bundesliga in Germany, and Michael Parkhurst, who is with FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark's top division. So anybody playing in a league with a winter schedule is exempt from the camp, as they will be busy.Also, bear in mind that more names will likely come out in the coming weeks to add to the mix. Much like the U23 USMNT camp that has been going on in Florida, the upcoming senior squad's camp will be an opportunity for players to impress the coaching staff and try to fight for places in competitive matches in 2012, which will be highlighted by the start of CONCACAF qualification for the 2014 World Cup. So with Pearce getting a call-up to the camp, it's a great start, but he needs to impress in order to be brought in for the competitive matches.
Here's the schedule for the camp: It will begin January 3 in Phoenix, then go to LA January 13-20, where I assume they will train at the Home Depot Center. To conclude the camp, they will play two friendlies: against Venezuela in Phoenix January 21, and against Panama in Panama City January 25.
I saw some calls for Nick LaBrocca to get an invite as well. I hope he does, but realistically there's a logjam at midfield, so I think he would be content to get any recognition he could. And Dan Kennedy is not on the list, which is a real shame in my opinion, but Klinsmann's sticking with the same goalkeepers he's been bringing in so far.
Here's the full list of today's announced players:
Defenders: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
What do you think? Leave a comment below!