Klinsmann calls on new faces for U.S.

United States’ Eric Lichaj, left, and Mexico’s Andres Guardado eye the ball during the first half of the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer final, Saturday, June 25, 2011, in Pasadena, California.
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The U.S. national team will begin preparations for its 2014 World Cup qualifiers with the first training camps of the year at two sites, in the U.S. and Panama, Jan. 3-26, 2012. The Americans will play two international friendlies early, versus Venezuela in Phoenix (AR) on Jan. 21 and at Panama on Jan. 25, 2012.

Jurgen Klinsmann will use the opportunity to have a look at several players who are making their first appearances under his leadership. The coach is searching for more depth in the team as he attempts to qualify the U.S. for the 2014 World cup in Brazil. The Americans will play in CONCACAF Group A in the semifinal round against Guatemala, Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda beginning in June.

In January, most of the U.S. national players are on duty abroad, so the national coach will use the opportunity to look at as many MLS players as possible. “European-based players and the Mexican-based players aren’t available, so this is their shot,’’ Klinsmann said of the new faces. “Their goal has to be to move ahead of the guy in front of him in their position, and the only way they can do that is to show how good they are.’’

In the 20-man roster chosen for the camp, all except two players ply their trade in MLS, and most are making their first appearances under Klinsmann. Among the players new to the coach’s system are MLS Rookie of the Year, forward C.J. Sapong, who scored five goals last season, and Graham Zusi, both of Kansas City; MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez of the MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy; defensive midfielder Ricardo Clarke, who plays in Germany for Eintracht Frankfurt; defender George John of Dallas; and midfielder Michael Parkhurst from FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark. The familiar faces include Dallas midfielder Brek Shea, and Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman.

“They are the next in line behind the established players, and this is a chance to prove themselves,’’ Klinsmann said. “We will spend the next few weeks introducing them to our ideas on how we want to play and what it means to be a part of the national team. Ultimately, it will create more depth for us, which you need at this level.’’

The full squad: Goalkeepers Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago) and Nick Rimando (Salt Lake); defenders are Geoff Cameron (Houston), A.J. DeLaGarza (Los Angeles), Gonzalez (Los Angeles), John (Dallas), Zach Loyd (Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland, Denmark) and Heath Pearce (Chivas USA); the midfielders are Beckerman (Salt Lake), Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Benny Feilhaber (New England), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado), Shea (Dallas), and Zusi (Kansas City); on the forward line are Juan Agudelo (New York), Teal Bunbury (Kansas City), Sapong (Kansas City) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose).

Johnson Signed

U. S. national team forward Eddie Johnson signed to play with Mexican club Puebla, according to Puebla President Roberto Henaine. Johnson played for FC Dallas and the Kansas City Wizards in MLS and last signed with Fulham of the English Premier League. While at Fulham, John had spells with Cardiff City and Preston North End in the English leagues. At Puebla, he will team up with fellow American midfielder DaMarcus Beasley.

CFU

The CFU (Caribbean Football Union), in disarray since the FIFA suspensions and firings because of CFU officials involvement in last spring’s bribery allegations, have appointed a nine-man “Normalization Committee” to steer the organization and bring some stability to the sport in the region until a new executive is elected next spring.

At a meeting at FIFA headquarters in Zurich last Wednesday, presidents of the 30 national associations appointed the Normalization Committee, which includes Yves Jean-Bart of Haiti, Luis Hernandez of Cuba, Victor Daniel of Grenada, Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, Larry Mussenden of Bermuda, Ronald Jones of Barbados, Everton Gonsalves of Antigua and Barbuda, Rignaal Francisco of Curacao and Horace Burrell of Jamaica, who is under a FIFA ban until Jan. 16, 2012.

The Committee will conduct the CFU business including setting a date, no later than May 15, for the elections for a new Executive. The CFU hasn’t had a president since Jack Warner was forced to relinquish the position, along with his positions as FIFA vice president and president of CONCACAF as a result of investigations into the bribery scandal.

Henry To Arsenal?

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is contemplating bringing back New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry on a two-month loan deal for his English Premier League club. Henry, considered one of the greatest players for Arsenal, won two league titles and three FA Cups during an eight-year career at the club. Henry is not due back at the Red Bulls training until early March and has been training with Arsenal in the off-season.

Arsenal will be without strikers Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh for about a month from the end of January because of the African Nations Cup and could use Henry’s experience and influence to keep Arsenal in the Premiership race. Wenger says he must decide on this and other loan deals by Jan. 1.

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