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USMNT roster prediction: Who could make January 2024 camp

December 18, 2023 by Jonathan Sigal | Courtesy of www.mlssoccer.com



Like clockwork, the US men’s national team begins each calendar year with a domestic-heavy January camp – complete with a friendly or two.


As the 2024 edition nears, the Yanks will meet Slovenia on Jan. 20 at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas. While we don’t know the roster just yet, head coach Gregg Berhalter dropped a big hint in last month’s release announcing the match.


“This is an opportunity for us to identify and work with the next generation of players who have the potential to make an impact on our program,” Berhalter said at the time.

As such, fans should expect a mix of up-and-comers and veterans with Concacaf Nations League (late March), Copa América (late June to early July) and the Summer Olympics (late July to early August) all on the horizon. The latter is a U-23 competition with three overage players.


Here’s how a 23-player MLS-heavy roster could shake out, acknowledging breaking into the "A" team won't be easy.


GOALKEEPER (3)


  • Chris Brady - Chicago Fire FC

  • Drake Callender - Inter Miami CF

  • Patrick Schulte - Columbus Crew


Drake Callender likely won't take the USMNT No. 1 shirt away from Matt Turner anytime soon, but he's earned more looks – potentially a Sean Johnson-type role like at Qatar 2022. He routinely bailed out Inter Miamien route to the 2023 Leagues Cup title, arguably playing at a team-MVP level.


Patrick Schulte has played his way into serious Paris 2024 consideration after backstopping Columbus to their second MLS Cup title in four years. Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy allowed the college soccer product to learn and grow on the job, a decision that paid off.

Will Chris Brady ultimately be better than fellow Chicago Fire FChomegrown goalkeeper Gaga Slonina, as some pundits have posited? Wherever you fall in that debate, Brady enters his age-20 season as one of MLS' top players at his position.


Don’t forget: On the other side of the Hell is Real rivalry, Roman Celentano has become a reliable shot-stopper for FC Cincinnati. Josh Cohen is another intriguing option, recently signing with Atlanta Unitedafter several standout seasons at Israeli side Maccabi Haifa.


CENTER BACK (5)


  • Jalen Neal - LA Galaxy

  • Jackson Ragen - Seattle Sounders FC

  • Miles Robinson - Unattached

  • Nkosi Tafari - FC Dallas

  • Walker Zimmerman - Nashville SC


Provided he's healthy after undergoing sports hernia surgery in late September, LA Galaxy homegrown Jalen Neal is a no-brainer pick. The 20-year-old already has six USMNT caps after featuring prominently at the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup and is a prime candidate to anchor the Olympic squad's backline.


Mindful of expanding the center-back pool, Jackson Ragen (Seattle) and Nkosi Tafari (Dallas) have both played their way into a USMNT opportunity. They're now 25 and 26, respectively, shining as late-bloomers after playing college soccer.


We all know what Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman bring to the table, so their inclusion is more geared towards the Nations League and Copa América squads. One curveball is Robinson's exploring free agency, both in MLS and abroad.


Don’t forget: Could Matt Miazga (FC Cincinnati) or Tim Parker (St. Louis CITY SC) appear in camp? They both were on the 2023 MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire, and Miazga was named MLS Defender of the Year.


FULLBACK (4)


  • DeJuan Jones - New England Revolution

  • Julian Gressel - Unattached

  • John Tolkin - New York Red Bulls

  • Caleb Wiley - Atlanta United


During this year's 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR process, Caleb Wiley's name repeatedly came up as an MLS homegrown with big-time potential. He's already got 5g/6a in 56 regular-season games for Atlanta United.


Joining Wiley at left back, John Tolkin had a true coming-of-age season in 2023 with the New York Red Bulls. Don't be surprised if he heads to Europe over the next couple of transfer windows. Both Wiley and Tolkin are Olympic-eligible, too.


DeJuan Jones is a versatile fullback whose reputation with the New England Revolution is unquestioned, and Julian Gressel is searching for a new club in free agency after helping Columbus lift MLS Cup. They're veteran-minded options who bring unique skill sets in the buildup to the 2026 World Cup.


Don’t forget: This time last year, Shaq Moore (Nashville SC) and DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF) were returning home from representing the USMNT at the 2022 World Cup. They know Berhalter's system, but appear to have slid down the depth chart.


If Berhalter wants to evaluate younger right-back options, i.e. those who are Olympic-eligible, Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union) and Jake Davis(Sporting Kansas City) are two names to consider.


CENTER MID (4)


  • Benjamin Cremaschi - Inter Miami CF

  • Jack McGlynn - Philadelphia Union

  • Aidan Morris - Columbus Crew

  • James Sands - New York City FC


Aidan Morris was a huge part of the Crew winning MLS Cup earlier this month, capping a year that started with his USMNT debut and included an MLS All-Star nod. He needs to keep developing, but a 2026 World Cup roster spot is a reachable goal.


Benjamin Cremaschi was perhaps the breakout player of the 2023 MLS season, benefiting from the Lionel Messi Effect. The 18-year-old should be a big part of Inter Miami's highly-anticipated 2024, looking to add more final-third sharpness to his unrelenting work rate and box-to-box play.


Jack McGlynn has become a written-in-pen starter for the Philadelphia Union and boasts arguably the most cultured left foot in the league, spraying passes and dictating tempo. He was crucial during the United States' run to the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinals.


James Sands is the only player listed above who's not age-eligible for the 2024 Olympics, as he'll turn 24 next July. But the New York City FCcaptain's experience and versatility – he's able to play d-mid, center back and in a hybrid right-back role – are a bonus at the international level.


Don’t forget: Looking ahead to the Olympics, Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids) and Josh Atencio (Seattle Sounders FC) are both options. Ditto for Noel Buck (New England Revolution), but he's been with England's U-19s and part of a bigger dual-national recruitment tug-of-war.


One more name to consider? Timothy Tillman helped LAFC reach MLS Cup 2023, impressing after joining last winter from 2. Bundesliga side Greuther Fürth.


ATTACKING MID/WINGER (4)


  • Cade Cowell - San Jose Earthquakes

  • Brian Gutiérrez - Chicago Fire FC

  • Diego Luna - Real Salt Lake

  • Bernard Kamungo - FC Dallas

Options weren't as plentiful in this positional group, especially since Diego Luna and Brian Gutiérrez are both 10/winger tweeners. They both leveled up considerably in 2023, though, and bring a creative spark.


Cade Cowell has always impressed against his age-group peers. Can the San Jose Earthquakes homegrown bring that production to the senior USMNT level?


Bernard Kamungo burst onto the scene for FC Dallas in 2023, scoring eight times across MLS and Leagues Cup play. Like those listed above, he's a prime Olympics candidate.

Don’t forget: If Berhalter is looking for veteran options, Tyler Boyd is coming off a solid season for the LA Galaxy. Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC) and Paul Arriola (FC Dallas) are both known commodities, too.


FORWARD (3)


  • Jesús Ferreira - FC Dallas

  • Duncan McGuire - Orlando City SC

  • Brandon Vazquez - FC Cincinnati

After tallying 13g/3a as a rookie for Orlando City, Duncan McGuire is on a promising trajectory to feature at the Paris 2024 games. USMNT first-choice strikers Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi are both age-eligible, too, but they're likely utilized for the Copa América squad next summer.


Jesús Ferreira (12g/6a) and Brandon Vazquez (8g/4a) saw their boxscore production dip this past season after placing on the 2022 MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire, yet they're both established players in the USMNT player pool. They'll have roles to play in the buildup to 2026 and have been linked with moves to Europe, particularly Vazquez after helping FC Cincinnati win the 2023 MLS Supporters' Shield.


Don’t forget: Jordan Morris was Seattle Sounders FC's top scorer this past season with 11g/1a. Brian White started to get more national attention after producing 15g/5a for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.


January camp: 23-man squad prediction


  • Goalkeepers: Chris Brady, Drake Callender, Patrick Schulte

  • Center backs: Jalen Neal, Jackson Ragen, Miles Robinson, Nkosi Tafari, Walker Zimmerman

  • Fullbacks: DeJuan Jones, Julian Gressel, John Tolkin, Caleb Wiley

  • Center mids: Benjamin Cremaschi, Jack McGlynn, Aidan Morris, James Sands

  • Attacking mids/wingers: Cade Cowell, Brian Gutiérrez, Diego Luna, Bernard Kamungo

  • Forwards: Jesús Ferreira, Duncan McGuire, Brandon Vazquez

Jonathan Sigal - @JonathanSigal





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