January Camp Could be Key for USMNT Success in March


Earlier this month, the United States Soccer Federation announced that the US will entertain Iceland and Canada in the usual January camp friendly window next year. With this in mind, Jurgen Klinsmann said he would use the camp as an opportunity to ready the national team for Olympic and World Cup qualification in March.

For the U-23 side, they will have a two legged playoff against Colombia in an attempt to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. After a disappointing showing in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, where they finished third, the side will have their work cut out for them against one of the best U-23 sides in the world.

As for the senior side, March brings the next portion of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, and the USMNT will face Guatemala away and then at home four days later. Traveling to Guatemala is never an easy task for any team, and the Americans will look to improve upon their away form after a 0-0 draw in Trinidad in November.

With that being said, the January camp, usually dubbed as “camp cupcake” will have a greater importance than it has in the past when the players convene on the fourth of next month. Klinsmann, via a USSF interview, has made it known that he will be looking to call in players from both sides in order to essentially prepare for the two competitions at once.

"We basically have two groups coming in; one under the focus of our World Cup Qualifiers and the other group under the focus of qualifying for the Olympics. So it’s going to be two groups, mixed together and working together side-by-side, and hopefully we see a lot of good stuff there with two exciting games at the end of the camp."

The January camp consists of mostly MLS and Scandinavian players, as the two leagues are in off-season, and since the dates are not part of the official FIFA window, European clubs would be unlikely to release players that would be called in anyway. Therefore, it gives those MLS players who could be on the fringe of either side a chance to show their worth in the friendlies, and a chance to get a head-start on the season and their preparation for Colombia or Guatemala.

For players like Jordan Morris, Matt Miazga, and Wil Trapp, who could be part of the U-23’s, this camp will be vital for them; it would be their chance to train and play together before the March camp for the Colombia matches. However, for others such as Brek Shea or Mix Diskerud, the January camp and friendlies serve as a chance to find their national team footing again, and show they have worth for World Cup Qualifying.

More from MLS Multiplex

With the U-23s and senior team training together in camp, the experience could help the younger players improve while also developing chemistry with one another; meanwhile for the older players, it could be the perfect opportunity to put themselves over the fringe and into the picture for an important 2016 in terms of World Cup Qualifying and even the Copa America Centenario.

The US will come together in Carson, California on January 4th, before playing matches against Iceland on January 31st and Canada on February 5th. Both games will be played at the StubHub Center.