2. Who makes their mark?
Since players based in Europe are rarely involved in the January camp and subsequently friendlies, domestic players have the chance to impress both coaches and fans in a rare opportunity to feature for their country. Some have done just that in recent years, which leads to them becoming consistent first-team starters.
Matt Besler might be the most famous example of this. The Sporting Kansas City defender was the best in MLS for several years but couldn’t find minutes for the USMNT on the field due to others with more experience abroad getting the nod. His first real opportunity came during a January camp. Besler made the most of it, going on to feature in a World Cup as a result.
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Now, all eyes will be on who could be this year’s example. And there are a few fringe players who will be chomping at the bit to make the jump but just need the chance to prove themselves to a wider audience.
Jackson Yueill has shown plenty of promise on the international stage so far, doing well during his various cameos in the team. He’ll have a bigger role on Sunday, likely starting in the middle of the park for the Yanks. With Michael Bradley injured and Tyler Adams potentially set to play right-back in the future, Yueill could make the central midfielder position his own with another strong showing.
Further up the field, Jonathan Lewis could become the team’s go-to winger ahead of World Cup qualifying. The U.S. don’t really have a proven commodity out wide, especially if Christian Pulisic is used more centrally. Lewis has shown glimpses of incredible ability early on in his career but just hasn’t been able to perform on a consistent basis. He is still only 22 years old, so there’s plenty of time for him to improve and become someone the team can rely on.
The USMNT’s slogan for this camp has been ‘Stake Your Claim’. It will be interesting to see who does just that on Sunday.