January is an eventful month for the U.S. Men's National Team, with friendlies scheduled against South American squad Venezuela and fellow CONCACAF member Panama. With the friendlies on the books, coach Jürgen Klinsmann has named his 20-man roster for the upcoming training camp and friendlies.
Finally, Klinsmann has changed it up a little bit. Players who fans have been calling for are on this list, and while there are some steadies here—and while this is clearly a lower quality squad—it will be interesting to watch this group take on two very competitive teams.
Bill Hamid: The D.C. United keeper has been named to every Klinsmann squad since the German took over in August, but has yet to see any playing time. With Tim Howard not on this roster, it looks like he will finally get his chance.
Sean Johnson: At just 22 years old, Sean Johnson has a very bright future in front of him, which may include a stint in the English Premier League after training with Everton earlier this month. And while that was just a learning opportunity for Johnson, the rumors linking him to Manchester United are a sign of things to come.
Nick Rimando: The third keeper on the squad is Nick Rimando, who is coming off two of his best seasons in MLS. I don't think he will play much, but he is a steady player and someone who can be valuable in practice.
Geoff Cameron: The first of many players who should have been called up already, Geoff Cameron was a 2011 MLS All-Star and a member of the 2009 MLS Best XI who can be a steady defender, and can certainly play better than the hated Michael Orozco-Fiscal.
A.J. DeLaGarza: My fellow Maryland native and Los Angeles Galaxy right back is rightfully getting a call up after winning the MLS Cup with the Galaxy. He has never appeared for the USMNT and could win a cap in these two friendlies.
Omar Gonzalez:It's about time. Omar Gonzalez is the best defender in MLS and has been snubbed by Klinsmann for past friendlies. Gonzalez should be starting beside Carlos Bocanegra routinely for the first team, but at least he's getting a chance with this squad.
George John: Another case of a player who should have been called up months ago, especially with the struggles of the back line in recent matches. George John has luckily not defected to the Greece National team, which he is eligible to play for. And although he may not be quality enough to play for Greece, he is breath of fresh air for the United States.
Zach Loyd: A teammate of George John at FC Dallas, Loyd is a versatile fullback who can play on both the left and right sides. He has already made an appearance for the USMNT when he started against Chile in a friendly in January, and was named man of the match.
Michael Parkhurst: The final member of the "Should Have Been Called Up Earlier" group is Michael Parkhurst. The former MLS Defender of the Year is currently playing in Denmark and has appeared just nine times for the USMNT.
Heath Pearce: Another fullback, Heath Pearce seems to be the default backup left back for the USMNT, no matter who is coaching.
Kyle Beckerman: I'm not sure whether this is a good or a bad sign. The good sign is this is clearly a second team, but the bad sign is Kyle Beckerman is still getting call ups. He's stood out like a sore thumb as the weak link to the team in the past few friendlies, and I'm not sure whether that will change any time soon.
Ricardo Clark: If there is anybody more universally hated by U.S. soccer fans than Michael Orozco-Fiscal and Kyle Beckerman, it is Ricardo Clark. The scapegoat of the 2010 World Cup, Clark plays in Germany, which might give him an edge with Klinsmann.
Benny Feilhaber: Surprisingly, Benny Feilhaber hasn't made an appearance for the USMNT since the 2010 World Cup, where he emerged as a better option to Ricardo Clark—and we all know how that situation turned out. He should flourish under the attack-minded Klinsmann.
Jeff Larentowicz: Another Klinsmann favorite, Larentowicz has already made an appearance under the German coach but has yet to start a match. He should get the chance over Clark and Beckerman, but that is yet to be seen.
Brek Shea: For the first time since breaking into the first team back in August, Brek Shea will get the chance to be the star of the team. He is arguably the best player on this team, and hopefully will play like it.
Graham Zusi: Another winger had to be named to the squad, and Graham Zusi was Klinsmann's choice. While I would have preferred other players, Zusi is a fresh face and should help me forget the ineptitude of one Robbie Rogers.
Juan Agudelo: The only member of the squad younger than I am is Juan Agudelo, and he should finally get his chance to be the main attacking option. He has played in the shadow of Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle and Clint Dempsey in the past few matches, but the 18-year-old will get his chance here.
Teal Bunbury: One of only two players on this squad not born in the U.S., the other being Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury is another player who has been routinely called up by Klinsmann, but has not yet appeared for the German. The Canadian-American striker could start if Klinsmann elects to start two strikers.
C.J. Sapong: While he may be better known for serenading Women's National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo, Sapong should be known for his goal scoring. A teammate of Bunbury at Sporting Kansas City, Sapong is the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year.
Chris Wondolowski: A prolific goal scorer in MLS, Chris Wondolowski has yet to show his prowess for the USMNT. He always seems to underperform when called up, most evidently at the 2011 Gold Cup. He may not have too many chances left, so hopefully he'll take advantage of this one.
I think I have provided my thoughts on the squad already, but I want to hear what other fans have to say. Keep in mind this squad is almost MLS-exclusive, excluding Ricardo Clark and Michael Parkhurst, so the player pool is a bit shallower than normal.
But are there any other players the fans think should have been included? Feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the screen, and thanks for reading.