U.S. coach Bob Bradley summoned 30 players to the national team’s first camp of 2010, calling it “the start of six months of preparations for the World Cup.”
With most European leagues in full swing, the group consists of 25 MLS players and five who ply their trade in Scandinavia, where leagues are on their winter break. The players will gather on January 4 at the Home Depot Center and face Honduras in a friendly there on January 23.
Say what you will about Bob Bradley, but he is leaving no stone unturned, and he is staying true to the promise that good form in MLS or abroad will be rewarded: There are nine players on this roster who’ve never been capped, and several whose standout seasons in 2009 earned them this call-up.
Click here for the complete list of 30, and read on for a look at five of the more interesting first-timers, in alphabetical order:
Alston has wheels, and is strong in the tackle, as Brian McBride learned.
Kevin Alston, D, New England Revolution:A speedy outside back who likes to get forward and can play on the left side (despite being naturally right-footed), Alston may not solve the U.S. left-back problem in time for SA 2010, but Bradley obviously thinks he’s worth an audition. The 21-year-old Silver Springs, Maryland, native played for the U.S. at the 2005 U-17 World Championships in Peru.
Bedoya earned Bradley's call with a strong year in Sweden.
Alejandro Bedoya, M, Örebro SK (Sweden):This skillful, attack-minded midfielder was a two-time nominee for the Hermann Trophy while in college (he went to Farleigh Dickinson University and Boston College). He signed with Örebro in late 2008, after his senior season at BC, and made his debut for the club this past spring. Bedoya scored two goals in 13 appearances in 2009.
LLJB: And he's 22, not 16, as you might guess from this photo.
Justin Braun, F, Chivas USA: One of the best stories in MLS in recent years, or ever, Braun was plucked from a rec-league tournament two years ago by Chivas USA coach Preki. For real. After seeing him in an amateur tournament at the HDC in January 2008, Preki invited Braun to Chivas USA’s preseason. He not only made the team but also scored four goals in the regular season and one in the playoffs. And look at him now.
McDonald joins a crowded field of candidates in central defense.
Brandon McDonald, D, San Jose Earthquakes: We’ll be honest, we didn’t catch a lot of Earthquakes games this year. Between the team’s poor form, Bobby Convey’s fizzling return to MLS and Darren Huckerby’s September retirement, it was a tough year for the Quakes. But there were bright spots, and McDonald’s play in central defense was one of them.
Marcus Tracy, F, Aalborg (Denmark): If you’re looking for a late-breaking addition to the 2010 World Cup roster, you could do worse than the 2008 Hermann Trophy winner out of Wake Forest. He was widely regarded as a top pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, but Tracy opted to sign with Danish club Aalborg instead. He scored two goals in 21 appearances for them this year, including this one below, where his hops and athleticism are on clear display: