Walker Zimmerman headlines USMNT’s first post-World Cup roster

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The U.S. men’s soccer team does not have a full-time coach, but does have its first squad since the 2022 World Cup after interim boss Anthony Hudson on Wednesday named a 24-man squad for in this month’s friendlies against Serbia and Colombia. in Los Angeles.

Midfielder Kellyn Acosta and center back Walker Zimmerman are among the remaining five on the U.S. team that went undefeated in the Qatar 2022 group stage before being eliminated in the round of 16 by the Netherlands. All five play in MLS, which begins its new campaign next month; most of the key participants in the American World Cup, such as Weston McKennie of Juventus and Tyler Adams of Leeds, are in the middle of the European season with their clubs and therefore unavailable for this rural area.

Still, the roster selected by Hudson, an assistant to Gregg Berhalter in Qatar who took over this month as U.S. Soccer athletic director Earnie Stewart, considers Berhalter’s resignation, though the event in 2026 hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico, includes seven players representing clubs from outside. the USA, the most in the more than 20-year history of the national team’s annual January camp. It also contains 13 players who have never seen a minute of international action.

Below is the full roster plus three takeaways following Wednesday’s announcement.

Goalkeepers:Roman Celentano, FC Cincinnati; Sean Johnson, free agent; Gaga Slonina, Chelsea (England)

Defenders:Jonathan Gómez, Real Sociedad (Spain), Julian Gressel, Vancouver Whitecaps; DeJuan Jones, New England Revolution; Aaron Long, LAFC; Jalen Neal, LA Galaxy; Sam Rogers, Rosenborg (Norway); John Tolkin, New York Red Bulls; Walker Zimmerman, Nashville SC

Midfielders:Paxten Aaronson, Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany); Kellyn Acosta, LAFC; Aidan Morris, Columbus Crew; Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Alan Soñora, free agent; Eryk Williamson, Portland Timbers

Fronts:Paul Arriola, FC Dallas; Cade Cowell, San Jose Earthquakes; Jesús Ferreira, FC Dallas; Matthew Hoppe, Middlesbrough (England), Emmanuel Sabbi, Odense (Denmark); Brandon Vazquez, FC Cincinnati; Alejandro Zendejas, Club America (Mexico)

A golden opportunity for USMNT hopeful

It’s easy to dismiss the January meeting as a college fitness camp or “cupcake camp,” but many of the future World Cup standouts started and/or started their international careers at the opening event of the ‘year, including the United States’ all-time greats. Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.

“There are some very, very big names on this list,” Hudson said in an interview with US Soccer. “They have to appreciate the opportunity in front of them.”

While most of the 2022 USA World Cup team should be young enough to return in 3.5 years, this mid-winter meet could also feature a future star or two. Teenagers Paxten Aaronson, the younger brother of Leeds’ Brenden Aaronson, and goalkeeper Gaga Slonina headline the unusually high number of European-based prospects released by their clubs for participation this month.

Young Aaronson has just joined Eintracht Frankfurt from the Philadelphia Union of the German Bundesliga, while Chelsea signed Slonina from the Chicago Fire. But with both still away from first-team action abroad, getting two high-profile games at home this month is mutually beneficial for all parties.

It’s not just Europeans who have the chance this month to start their international career off on the right foot. Brandon Vazquez led all Americans in scoring in MLS last season and will be eager to prove Berhalter wrong in not giving the uncapped forward more serious consideration for a trip to the World Cup. The United States struggled mightily to finish in Qatar, with just three goals in four games.

Matthew Hoppe among the biggest surprises

The most established European player called up is former Schalke and Mallorca striker Matthew Hoppe. Hoppe moved to England last summer to increase his playing time ahead of the World Cup. Instead, the 21-year-old forward, a standout during the USMNT’s 2021 Gold Cup win, has barely featured for second-tier Middlesbrough, appearing in just six of 27 league games.

“He’s a really good lad, he’s been fantastic in training so he’s just got to be patient,” Boro manager Michael Carrick said last week. Getting some action (and ideally a goal) against the Serbians and Colombians would boost Hoppe’s confidence, expose him to interested buyers and return him to his club with some much-needed match fitness.

Alejandro Zendejas heads the dual nationality

Six players from Hudson’s squad can also represent Mexico internationally: Vázquez, Cade Cowell, Jonathan Gómez and Alejandro Zendejas. And while it’s no guarantee either of them will ultimately commit to the US long-term, LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo won a cap for the Americans in 2020 before switching allegiances. The Three – having them in camp can’t hurt. (Germany’s Julian Gressel also received his first invitation since becoming a US citizen, while Alan Soñora can also play for Argentina.)

Right back Gomez is a particularly intriguing talent, but 24-year-old Zendejas is the closest to being able to contribute for the USMNT right away. The winger has made more than 100 top-flight appearances in MLS and Liga MX, scoring 12 goals in 39 outings since joining Club America last year. He was also a member of the U.S. entry to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he lined up alongside Adams and three other members of the 2022 World Cup squad in Christian Pulisic, Luca de la Torre and Haji Wright.

“He’s an exciting player, a technical player who plays a lot on the right or the left, and he has a really good end product,” Hudson said of Zendejas. “He’s really excited to come in and obviously he’s got history with the youth teams.”

Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @By Doug McIntyre.

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