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ASN Weekly Debate

What Can We Expect from the January USMNT Camp?

The traditional United States national team January camp starts on Monday. Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon debate what it all means. The conclusion is something about socks.

BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
January 04, 2013
7:42 AM
Noah Davis: Okay Señor Santa Fe. Thoughts, hopes, dreams for the January camp?

Ryan O'Hanlon: Can I say that I have none? Because I really want to say that I have none.

Davis: You can say you have none, although this is going to be a really short conversation. I have one: I would like to know what Alfredo Morales is doing there, assuming reports are right.

O'Hanlon: Is that a hope, thought, or dream?

Davis: A diversion.

O'Hanlon: Whether or not we meant to do this, which comes down to your personal beliefs on a lot of things we really don't need to talk about on the Internet, I think we've explained without explaining that the January camp is maybe an ultimately meaningless thing, but also probably something that you could derive some meaning from if you really wanted to... or am I being too cynical?

Davis: I think the January camp is really silly. At the same time, I love it. It's like Spring Training, but instead of your best players playing three innings and then going to hang out in the clubhouse, they don't show up at all. That said, last year we got to see Graham Zusi, Geoff Cameron, Michael Parkhurst, and—wait for it—captain Jermaine Jones. I wish they were playing someone other than Canada, though. That game in June was an abomination.

O'Hanlon: Yes, just by calling something meaningless and dumb and whatever else, it doesn't mean it can't be fun, which it is because we'll get to see a lot of guys in the U.S. uniform who probably won't ever wear it again—and also a bunch who, hopefully, will be wearing it a lot in the near future. Yet, what happens in the January camp probably won't have much of an effect on any of that.

Davis: What happens in Carson stays in Carson.

O'Hanlon: Zach Loyd got that tattoo'd on his lower back last year. But, actually, now that I'm thinking about this, Alfredo Morales being in this camp might actually be the most meaningful thing about this camp. Because it probably means something's up with his club situation, which is not something we need to get into, but it's also not nothing, either.

Davis: You mean because they wouldn't release him for a qualification tournament that (sort of) mattered last year, but are releasing him for three weeks in paradise/running hell? Maybe he was spending too much time in the Berlin club scene. Can't blame him there. I'll be interested to see how he does; I thought he looked good the few times I saw him play.

O'Hanlon: Yup. It's just weird, and especially so considering how protective clubs are over their players now. But I've been intrigued by him, too, and he's Peruvian, so he fits into that theory we had—which I don't remember, and might actually be imagining—about Peruvian players and something something USMNT.

Davis: Definitely imagining but works for me. Also, Alfredo Morales is a wonderful soccer player name. Here's a question: Seeing as this is—hooray, finallythe year before the World Cup and qualifying starts like whoa immediately, does Klinsmann treat the camp differently than he did last year?

O'Hanlon: Maybe it's more of a see-who-can-help-us-now thing, rather than a give-young-guys-some-time thing? I don't know. What can you really get out of a watered-down friendly and training sessions that don't include that overwhelming majority of your best players?

Davis: Subquestion, seeing as some of the best players are Euro-based and aren't, you know, going to get three weeks off to train in California, will the composition of the roster he brings to Honduras be different than it might otherwise normally be? Are we going to see more MLS and Scandinavian guys?

O'Hanlon: I wouldn't think so. If anything, wouldn't it be more tilted to the guys who are mid-season, rather than the ones who aren't even playing? There are arguments both ways, I guess, but "form" seems to be a pretty big thing, and you can't be "in form" if you're not currently playing the sport.

Davis: Even if you're training with the team for three weeks? Maybe I'm overvaluing tactics, which is surprising because I find tactics to be insufferably boring. I do think it's weird though that a bunch of guys are going to come into camp and play for three weeks, and then another group entirely will go down to Honduras for a game that matters. International soccer can be so dumb sometimes.

O'Hanlon: It is really dumb, most of the time, and it sounds ridiculous when you put it that way, but I mean, if Klinsmann has the opportunity to get (the shell of a shell of a shell of) the team together for an extended period, he's going to do that, but he's also not going to let that really mean all that much, I don't think. Plus, it's not like they won't train for a little bit before the first qualifier. Man, remind me to never be a National Team manager.

Davis: The game against Honduras is on Wednesday. Which means a lot of the players will do that thing where they play Saturday, fly, train Sunday maybe, train Monday morning maybe, fly to Honduras Monday afternoon, walk through on Tuesday, play on Wednesday, depart. That's not a lot of time. All I'm saying is that I bet there is more overlap than some people might expect.

O'Hanlon: It sounds reasonable, when you put it that way, but I'll still bet you—I dunno, a pair of socks?—that it's a normal, best-players roster.

Davis: Deal. I request these.

O'Hanlon: Fine. I want to make sock puppets, so any large tube socks will do.

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon do this every week. Sometimes, there are croissants.

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