USMNT: Recapping a Successful January Camp
After a roller-coaster year of 2011 that left USMNT fans demanding more consistency, it was a breath of fresh air to see a new-look squad start the year off right with back-to-back wins.
With many of the USMNT stars currently in the height of their club's season, Jurgen Klinsmann was forced to give a lot of unproven Americans a chance at camp. With new players, a new year and new results, there was plenty to analyze this past week. Here are the eight statements that best describe the camp. Enjoy!
Man of the Camp: Jermaine Jones
Undoubtedly, Jermaine Jones’ addition to the USMNT camp did wonders for the team. His aggressiveness and passing ability were unmatched in both games, and he truly showed why he has become one of the strongest Central Midfielders in the Bundesliga. If it weren’t for his club suspension, there is no way the US walks out of January undefeated.
Flop of the Camp: Teal Bunbury
The Sporting Kansas City forward could not have been given a better opportunity to assert himself as a legitimate striking option for Jurgen Klinsmann. However, faulty touches, lack of creativity in the attacking third and overall “invisibility” may cause JK to reconsider Bunbury’s Olympic team spot. It was alarming to see Bunbury’s struggles so close to the tournament during such a perfect opportunity.
I Want to See More: Chris Wondolowski
Wondolowski was not much of a fan favorite coming into the camp, but his incredible soccer IQ and aerial capabilities have made me desperate to get some more looks at the veteran. While statistics may not show it, Wondo’s movement in the attacking third makes everything on offense flow that much smoother, and his conservative style perfectly complements Agudelo and Sapong’s new age play. While an Olympic spot seems like a bit of a reach, I would like to see more of Wondolowski before it is too late.
Forgive and Move on With...Geoff Cameron
While many will simply remember Cameron’s red-card gaffe against Panama, I would like to remind you all of his excellent play against Venezuela before it fades from your memory. Cameron distributed the ball brilliantly out the back and was very strong in the air in the first game of the series. He made one mistake, but he is not more prone to these errors than blunder-boy Tim Ream or Michael Orozco.
Before we start ripping Cameron for his mistake, let us realize our other CB options at the moment are just as risky and should not be praised for their own efforts. Forgive Cameron and give him another shot. He won’t let you down.
You're Almost There: Graham Zusi
There was a lot to like from Graham Zusi during the January camp. He scored the game-winner against Panama with an excellent finish and did well to whip in some dangerous crosses in both matches. A move to the inside might better suit the SKC midfielder’s qualities, but with so many central midfield options, it will be tough for him to consistently find a spot.
Please, Come Again...CJ Sapong
CJ Sapong offered some much-needed energy in both games last week for the USMNT. His swagger, confidence and agility really helped the USMNT seal the deal against Panama and Venezuela. He was certainly the better of the two SKC forwards and is on my “Must Watch” list for 2012.
Plus, anyone who can do this is worth your time and attention.
Welcome Back, Ricardo Clark
It has been a tough two years for Ricardo Clark, who has forever been engrained in the memory of USMNT fans as the man who ruined the Ghana game. While I may not be a big fan of his play, the emotion he showed after scoring the goal is something that I tip my hat to and hope that all USMNT players will show in the future.
Welcome back, Ricardo. I wish you the best.
Jurgen Klinsmann Was on Point
After being harassed by many USMNT fans for a rough end to 2011, there isn’t much to complain about from the German mastermind’s decisions. Other than the questionable Bunbury starts, Klinsmann seemed to make all the right choices at the right times to grind out two much-needed wins.
The confidence the USMNT now has will prove to be vital during Olympic qualifying, and fans should probably show a little bit more trust in JK in the future. He had little to work with, overcame challenges and brought home two W’s. In Klinsmann we trust.
Considering the harsh end to 2011 and the severely depleted roster, this January camp could not have gone any better from the USMNT fan perspective. We got to see who are the legitimate candidates for Olympic spots and who are simply pretenders when it comes to the future of the team.
New faces, new wins and a new and improved understanding of the team that we love. That is what I call a successful camp.