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Stock Up, Stock Down - USMNT January Camp Edition

The January camp has long been a proving ground for new USMNT prospects, and this year was no different as several players impressed in two friendly wins again Iceland and Canada

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports


Lee Nguyen

The New England Revolution midfielder made his first two international starts and though he featured in a more wide role, he was clearly one of the most influential and attacking players on the field. His individual creativity was second to none for the US, and despite pinching in from the left midfield role, the skill on the ball the US team so often lacks was very clear for all to see. I'd expect to see Lee back in the starting lineup at the end of March against Guatemala.

Steve Birnbaum

The D.C. United defender was given a great chance when Matt Miazga left camp to sign in England with Chelsea, and he did not disappoint. His aerial prowess set up the comeback against Iceland and nearly opened the scoring against Canada. We're still not entirely sure why he started at right back yesterday, but he didn't seem out of place at the position. He's still likely behind Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron on the USMNT centerback depth chart, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him on the roster for the Guatemala qualifiers.

Jerome Kiesewetter, Ethan Finlay

The two wingers each impressed in their own way. Kiesewetter showing why he's one of the top Olympic attackers for the US, twice coming on as a substitute and having a big impact. I actually liked Finlay's start against Iceland though with the offense largely a mess he wasn't able to get involved. Still, the service and width both players provided was solid and if deployed in the USMNT's more familiar 4-2-3-1, could both be viable options in the World Cup cycle.

Kellyn Acosta, Brandon Vincent

Fullback has been a problem for the USA recently, and these two youngsters not only impressed, but flourished. Acosta went the full ninety against Iceland doing well defensively for the most part but not venturing forward as much. Against Canada, both players got forward more, but it was Vincent who might have stole the show on his debut. The Union draftee was a menace in the attacking half, providing service into the box and recording a shot on target.

Jermaine Jones, Central Midfielder

Give me a second, this isn't as bad as it sounds. Yes, the Jones-Michael Bradley partnership has never been the best. But Jones has been doing better as the stay-at-home #6 for both the Revs and the USMNT against Iceland. He was involved in the build up for Altidore's equalizer in the first friendly and right now remains a viable central option because...


Mix Diskerud, Other US Holding Midfielders

No one else has staked a claim to the starting spot. Diskerud was fine against Canada, he completed a lot of passes and made a few vital defensive stops early in the game. But for a game the US dominated in possession, Diskerud never got that involved into the attack or made that many memorable plays in the attacking half. Other holding/central midfielders like Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp and Perry Kitchen made nothing more than cameos in the two friendlies, and unless Dax McCarty is walking through that door (and he should by the way), expect to see Jermaine Jones this summer at Copa America.

Gyasi Zardes

I like Gyasi Zardes, but he's not an international starter in the midfield and was by far the most frustrating player in both games for the US. The right flank was a disaster against Canada where Zardes was unable to maintain possession or link up with the forwards. There were a few bright moments for Zardes against both Iceland and Canada but both times when he was subbed off for Kiesewetter the Americans played better. I still think Zardes will be called up for the Guatemala WCQ's, but more than likely he should be coming in off the bench.

Jermaine Jones, Centerback

This experiment needs to go away, because Jones is not a utility player. If he's going to transition to centerback full time with the national team then he needs to find a club where he can play the position full time. To call Jones undisciplined as a centerback would be an understatement though his aggressive nature could at times be beneficial if he learned to understand the position, especially tactically. He wanders forward haphazardly and got his partner Matt Besler a booking against Canada after a failed give and go with Zardes down the right side gave Canada a counter-attack.


This isn't a knock on either Luis Robles or David Bingham, but quite frankly, neither of them had anything to do in these friendlies. The goals allowed by the US against Iceland were blatant defensive errors that Robles can't be expected to bail his team out on and Bingham didn't have to make a save while shutting out Iceland. This was a chance for someone to claim the third spot on the depth chart and, unfortunately, the friendlies didn't give either keeper a great opportunity to highlight their skills. With Bill Hamid on the mend, it's hard to say right now who has the inside track on the third keeper spot behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. We'll find out in March when Klinsmann names his roster for the qualifiers.