The list of 24 players called up by interim USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson was just announced, with a trio of in-demand dual-citizens – Brandon Vazquez, Alejandro Zendejas and Jonathan Gómez – sure to grab the headlines.
With the future of the team coaching position still up in the air due to ongoing evaluations and investigations, Hudson will lead the camp with assistants Mikey Varas, current coach of the U-20 team, and fellow senior assistant B.J. Callaghan.
The list of participants is a mixture of MLS and overseas-based players and includes five who recently traveled to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
However, the majority of the hype will be surrounding the inclusion of several Mexican-American dual-national players, several of whom have reportedly been targets of El Tri.
Most notable is Club América winger Alejandro Zendejas, who caused a bit of a fracas last summer when he reportedly refused to commit his future to the Mexican national team. Zendejas featured heavily for the USA U-17 squad, but more recently represented Mexico in a pair of senior-friendly matches in 2021.
FC Cincinnati striker Brandon Vazquez was a late contender for the USMNT’s Qatar roster after scoring 18 goals in MLS last season but was ultimately passed over in the final warm-up games in September and watched the team’s run to the Round of 16 from the comfort of his own sofa.
After his breakout season for Cincinnati in MLS, he was reportedly a longshot target of El Tri, despite having only played for US youth teams from the U-17 to the U-20 level.
More surprising is the appearance of 19-year-old left-back Jonathan Gómez on the roster, a promising player who has bounced back and forth between the US and Mexico at all age levels. While he most recently played with the U-20 squad from Varas in the Revelations Cup in September, his current club team – Real Sociedad B in the Spanish third tier – is currently in season, with him figuring in as an every-game starter.
Several other European-based players have been released by their teams for the camp, including Frankfurt’s Paxten Aaronson, Chelsea’s Gabriel Slonina, and Middlesbrough’s Matthew Hoppe, however, none of the three were expected to see first-team action with their clubs in the coming weeks.
The roster also includes several MLS players who are currently rumored or set for off-season moves, including the currently unattached keeper Sean Johnson, New York Red Bulls defender John Tolkin, San Jose attacker Cade Cowell and LAFC midfielder Kellyn Acosta.
Anthony Hudson, who will oversee the camp as interim head coach, expressed his excitement at bringing in this group of players as they begin their quest to lock down a spot for the next World Cup on North American soil.
“We are thrilled with the group of players we’ve been able to put together for this camp,” Hudson said in a statement. “The annual January Camp gives us a chance to look at some real high-potential young players as well as some dual nationals we have been following.”
“The focus has been on identifying positions within our team that need more depth. We are also leaning on some of our veteran players for their experience on the field as well as to socialize the younger players into the incredible culture we have built within the squad. We know from history that many players who get their first national team opportunity in this window go on to make a World Cup roster, so we want them to make the most of it.”
The camp begins on January 21 in southern California and will include friendly matches against Serbia and Colombia on January 25 and 28, respectively.
USMNT Roster for January Camp
GOALKEEPERS (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Sean Johnson (Unattached; 10/0), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad/ESP; 1/0), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps/CAN; 0/0), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution; 0/0), Aaron Long (LAFC; 29/3), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg/NOR; 0/0), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 37/3)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 0/0), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 55/2), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew; 0/0), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; 1/0), Alan Soñora (Unattached; 0/0), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; 4/0)
FORWARDS (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 48/10), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; 1/0), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 16/7), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough/ENG; 6/1), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense/DEN; 0/0), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Alejandro Zendejas (Club America/MEX; 0/0)