Posted 21 December 2010 - 02:36 PM
The Camp Cupcake roster is out. For those who don't know, every year the US national team holds an extended camp in January. Since most European players are busy with their clubs, it is a camp full of MLS players and a handful of players from winter leagues in Scandinavia, generally geared towards younger up-and-coming guys.
This year's camp is especially young and inexperienced, though.
GK: Dominic Cervi (Dundee/SCO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Rimando and Pickens are solid MLS keepers. Kevin Hartman was probably had the best season in 2010, but he has knee troubles and he's ancient. Johnson became the Fire's starter halfway through the season and impressed. He was on the 2009 U-20 team and at 21 is quite young for a starter. At the moment would have to be considered the front-runner for the 2012 Olympic team (U-23). Cervi seems to be a favorite son of the USSF. He's on the books at Celtic, where he's the overlooked 3rd keeper, currently on loan with Dundee. He has some physical tools but he's never had a chance to play.
DF: A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Ugo Ihemelu (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Ryan Miller (Halmstads BK/SWE), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Anthony Wallace (Colorado Rapids), Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids)
Gonzalez, Ihemelu, Ream, and Wynne will be competing for spots in central defense. Ream has unusually good ball skills for an American CB, but isn't the quickest and can get turned a little too easily (though he got better during the year). Gonzalez is a giant, but needs to prove that he can be effective despite lacking speed. Wynne and Ihemelu are athletic freaks who have had their moments -- Wynne has been converted to CB by Colorado where he played better than he did as an RB.
Franklin is an obvious choice at RB. He'll be one of several guys competing with Eric Lichaj to be the heir apparent to Steve Cherundolo. His competition this camp will probably be Zach Loyd, who was a surprising pick. He was a rookie at Dallas who did well as a part-time starter, but nobody expected him to be called in by the NT at this point.
DeLaGarza, Wallace, and Miller all have experience playing LB. Wallace has historically been the most celebrated of the bunch, having made the 2007 U-20 WC team and the 2009 team as well (though he dropped out due to injury). He was buried at Dallas, but became a starter instantly after being traded to Colorado, where he won an MLS Cup. He's still only 21 and given our lack of options at LB he's worth keeping an eye on. DeLaGarza has had his moments in MLS, but I don't think he'll succeed at the international level, but stranger things have happened. Miller is kind of a headscratcher. Nobody has seen him play because he's been with a small Swedish club. Who knows.
George John and Ike Opara (young CBs) definitely deserve to be here, but both have injury issues.
MF: Eric Alexander (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (÷rebro SK/SWE), Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabśk/NOR), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Dax McCarty (DC United), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
Bedoya has more caps than anyone else in camp with....6. Still, it's a solid group considering so many of our top midfielders are in European leagues who are in midseason. McCarty and Larentowicz are two of the league's better central midfielders and Cronin is solid too. Bedoya is shaping up to be a decent fringe player for the Nats and Shea is highly-regarded, though somewhat frustrating prospect. He's a physical specimen who shows flashes but can disappear from games. He actually played CB on a recent friendly tour of Spain and drew interest from Atletico Madrid....so a position change is definitely worth considering. For now, he's a left midfielder.
Diskerud is the second youngest player on the roster. He got his first cap in South Africa in November and had a very nice assist in a short sub appearance. He's got a lot of talent as an attacking midfielder and I think we are going to be very thankful that we somehow lured him away from Norway.
The surprising choice here is Eric Alexander. Like Zach Loyd, he's another Dallas rookie who looked quite good, but who wasn't a regular starter. Now Dallas is a very deep team, but still. I guess Bradley was taken with his performances.
FW: Juan Agudelo, Justin Braun, Teal Bunbury, Chris Wondolowski
With Buddle trialing in England and possibly signing soon, these are our best available forwards. Bunbury is young and promising and Agudelo is younger and even more promising. Agudelo has only a handful of pro appearances, but he clearly has "it" and is being fast-tracked. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he skips the U-20 WC to play on the Gold Cup team this summer.
Braun had a good year in MLS and Wondolowski obviously had an epic breakout season, winning the Golden Boot. I'm not sure either guy has the ability to excel at the international level, but they deserve a shot to make their case.