3 eye-catching inclusions on Berhalter’s list


19 Major League Soccer players have been called to a training camp for the US men’s national team, which takes place January 7-21.

The group list will be gathered in Phoenix, Arizona, to build up the match condition for USMNT’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras. Players will also take part in a number of battles behind closed doors.

“Our focus for the next two weeks is to prepare the home-based players to be included in the World Cup qualifier training camp,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a press release.

“This upcoming window provides an opportunity to approach our ultimate goal of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

The camp will offer another opportunity for MLS-based players to impress Berhalter before their European counterparts become available for selection again later this month. A similar group of players beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 in a friendly just before Christmas.

Here is the USMNT list in its entirety:


Ready for this opportunity. ???? https://t.co/l4uxCdedDe

– DeJuan Jones (@ dejuanjones24) January 7, 2022

DeJuan Jones was second in minutes, first for tackles, scoring three goals and giving four assists to the rampant Supporters’ Shield winners in 2021, so it’s no surprise to see him appear on Berhalter’s radar.

In fact, the chances for Jones to get regular minutes for USMNT are small given the absolute depth of talent in his position. But there is always room on a grid for one in shape, two-way back who can put out fires in his own box and light them at the other end of the field.

Jones recently signed a new contract with the New England Revolution, and if nothing else, it’s nice to see his fine 2021 form get a nod of appreciation from the national team lineup. It is up to him to do enough to make this a regular event.

Starts 2022 Strong. Time to start working! pic.twitter.com/HEHotepLTr

– GAGA (@GabrielSlonina) January 6, 2022

When Gabriel Slonina spoke with 90min about his international future in November, he was very uncertain with Poland still on the table. Since then, Berhalter has been working to take him to Stars and Stripes, calling him (but not playing him) in last month’s friendly, and now taking him to this camp.

There are some shortcomings in Slonina’s game – he really needs to find some peace with the ball at his feet. But you would do well to find many more talented 17-year-old goalkeepers on the planet right now, let alone in MLS. He is a brilliant instinctive shot stopper and commands his box with the authority of a veteran.

There is already talk of European interest in Slonina. He will not move yet and has a big year ahead of him as Chicago Fire’s No.1. Berhalter would do well to keep him around the USMNT setup as well. He has the talent to be the starting goalkeeper for the next 15 years.

Nice to see this guy back in?, ⚪️ &?. @ A_LoLo12 has been invited to spend the week with #USMNT and continue his path to recovery. # OnlyForward ?? pic.twitter.com/9MXY6R6i06

– US Soccer MNT (@USMNT) November 8, 2021

Aaron Long was linked with all sorts of clubs in January last year – even Liverpool, which suffered a remarkable injury crisis as a midfielder. Again, he did not get his grip, but retained his professionalism and was without a doubt the New York Red Bulls best player during the first five games of the season.

Since an ACL injury in May put him on the sidelines and we have not seen him in competition since.

Only that makes his introduction here eye-catching. But with 21 internationals to his name already, Long has experience at this level and once he is in shape he is a useful deep piece as a midfielder.

Berhalter is still trying to find his best combination between the likes of John Brooks, Chris Richards and Miles Robinson. He clearly wants to see where Long’s fitness is with the 29-year-old who could potentially close gaps while other starting caliber candidates prove their worth.

In the worst case, Long will have his recovering ACL tested before the MLS season 2022.

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