Although to be fair, the moniker Camp Cupcake is a bit tongue in cheek, but this is another opportunity to see how far MLS has come as a league when they face quality sides in Panama and Venezuela. The MLS heavy squad called up by Jurgen Klinsmann features just two foreign based players--the steady, dependable Michael Parkhurst and the clearly out of favor at Eintract Frankfut midfielder Ricardo (Red Cardo) Clark.
One of the more interesting things to see might be to see what kind of tactical formation Klinsmann puts out. Most of these players are used to a 4-4-2 system and Klinsmann has favored an attacking 4-3-3 that is likely unfamiliar to these players.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Absolutely no problems here and the only question will be weather Hamid finally gets his first cap. Rimando is clearly the number three on the U.S. set up and his leadership is bound to help. Hamid and Johnson will get a Christmas break after spending a week with the U.S. MNT U 23 team camp in Florida before heading to Phoenix. According to Ives Galarcep, Johnson is a great shot stopper but a little lacking in the distribution and communications areas, so I am thinking that the contest for starts will be between the veteran Rimando and Hamid. I think Hamid gets at least one start.
DEFENDERS (7): Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)
Finally, Omar Gonzalez gets his call up and Geoff Cameron returns to the USMNT. There is an interesting mix here, as interestingly, there are two left backs in Loyd and Pearce, but no natural right back on the list. Of course, Klinsmann has lots of good options at right back with Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler, so it will be interesting to see if Pearce can claw his way back onto the roster. I would loved to have seen Todd Dunivant on this list as I think he is probably the most consistent left back in MLS, but Loyd is certainly making a case for himself.
To be perfectly honest, while I think a twin tower defense of Gonzalez and Cameron in the center would be great to see, I would be interested in seeing if the Gonzalez/De La Garza pairing would work on the National Team level. What a great story that would be, teammates at Maryland, teammates at the club level and teammates for the National Team. . While Gonzalez is a good back, I think A.J. De La Garza is far more important to the Galaxy defense and would have put him ahead of Gonzalez for a national team call up.
My guess is that the versatile De La Garza finds himself on the right side, which again, would be interesting.
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
I hope that Brad Davis is still injured and thus not included on this roster for that reason. How that man and his wicked left foot and set piece play doesn't get called in if healthy is beyond me. Surprised to see Clark on this list given his complete lack of playing time in Frankfurt, but maybe Klinsmann is helping the man get a loan or something, but I am not sure that Clark gets playing time ahead of Beckerman and Larentowicz in holding midfield. Heck, even Cameraon is, in my opinion, a better holding midfielder.
Zusi earned this call up the right way--by playing great. I am not sure he gets a lot of minutes on the right side ahead of Feilhaber, but you never know. Shea, coming of his training stint, will be an interesting player to watch. Will the training with Arsenal have helped raise his game. The last couple of national team games, Shea looked tired, hopefully he got some rest in England.
Beckerman, Klinsmann's dreadlocked Hobbit is a real leader for the coach and likely to wear the armband for this team. I know that a lot of people are not happy with Klinsmann's infatuation with Beckerman, but he is effective at doing his job. If Klinsmann plays a 4-3-3, Beckerman will be on a hot seat, but something tells me that we are going to be looking at a 4-4-2 with Beckerman in his customary holding role.
The only snub I can see would be Josh Gatt. I would love to have seen how he works in this set up.
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Can we see a three man front with Aguedelo, Bunbury and Sapong? Please? I would be happy giving up defensive strength to see what these three young men can do together. The speed, the scoring ability, the movement, can you imagine? But alas, probably not going to happen. While I can see the functional need for a player like Wondolowski from a leadership aspect, I think it would have been interesting to see other MLS strikers like Justin Braun called in. However, if you dropped Wondolowski and added Altidore--this would probably be a four man crew that lots of fans would like to see for World Cup qualifying.
So who gets the starts? Here is my prediction (4-4-2)
-Loyd----Cameron---Gonzalez----De La Garza-
If Klinsmann goes 4-3-3
-Loyd---Cameron---Gonzalez----De La Garza-