Interim coach Dave Sarachan summoned a young roster of 30 players into training with the U.S. national soccer team Monday, the first extended camp since the Americans were eliminated from the World Cup during regional qualifying in October.
And while the names on the roster indicate the U.S. has begun the process of building for the future, the team learned it will be doing so without teenage midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, a U.S.-Mexico dual national from Santa Rosa, Calif., who has decided to play for Mexico.
Gonzalez, 18, who plays for Monterrey in Mexico’s Liga MX, has indicated he will file the necessary paperwork to switch international allegiance from the U.S. to Mexico. Gonzalez, who has played for several U.S. age-group teams but never for the senior national team, was not eligible to be called in for this camp since it falls outside a FIFA international window.
If FIFA approves his request before the end of the month, Gonzalez could debut for Mexico in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 31 in San Antonio. He would likely compete for a spot on Mexico’s World Cup roster as well.
Gonzalez wasn’t called up for the U.S. team’s friendly in Portugal in November, the first game the U.S. played after its failed qualifying campaign, and told Soccer America no one from the U.S. Soccer Federation called to explain the omission. That plus the fact the U.S. won’t be in Russia for this summer’s World Cup likely weighed heavily in his decision to switch from the U.S. to Mexico.
Consider that another casualty of a disastrous fall Sarachan and the U.S. will try to put behind them this month.
“The players that we will have, none of them really were a part of 2017,” Sarachan said. “They all, of course, are aware of what transpired. They’re not dumb.
“We start today and move forward. It sounds a little corny but that’s the truth. It’s all about looking ahead at this point.”
The three-week-long camp will take place at StubHub Center and will conclude with a Jan. 28 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes and LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman were among those called up. With 37 appearances with the national team, Zardes has the most caps of any player called in. Fifteen players on Sarachan’s roster have never played for the senior national team.
Twenty-eight of the 30 players called in are coming from MLS teams and 21 of them are 24 or younger.
“It’s all about the future and opportunity,” said Sarachan, who assumed the interim job two weeks after Bruce Arena, his friend and mentor, resigned as coach of the national team in October. “This is a unique January camp that we’re solely preparing for the future. We didn’t bring in a lot of veteran players for that reason.”
With the U.S. Soccer Federation holding elections next month for a new president, the national team’s coaching staff is in a holding pattern. Sarachan’s contract expires in March, as do the contracts of his assistants, some of whom will soon move on to more permanent jobs.
Assistant Kenny Arena, Bruce Arena’s son, is expected to accept a position with LAFC this week.
Defenders: Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club)
Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids), Ian Harkes (D.C. United), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Gyasi Zardes (Galaxy)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City SC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC), Rubio Rubin (Unattached), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union)
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11