CHICAGO â€” Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei and Vancouver midfielder Kekuta Manneh, both in the process of completing U.S. citizenship requirements, are among 32 players who will report to the first U.S. training camp since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as coach.
Frei, 30, relocated from Switzerland with his family in the 1990s and played college soccer for California. He would give Arena another veteran option in addition to Colorado’s Tim Howard, projected to be sidelined for four months following November surgery on his right leg, and Brad Guzan, who on Monday made his first appearance since August for Middlesbrough.
“In my view we have about eight goalkeepers we’re going to be looking at throughout the year,” Arena said Thursday during a Facebook Live session, mentioning the five invited to camp along with Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough. “Certainly Tim Howard and Brad Guzan would have the edge at this point in time.”
Manneh, a 22-year-old Gambian, moved to Texas in 2010.
Veterans Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Chris Wondolowski also are on the roster that will report to Carson, California, starting Jan. 10 ahead of exhibitions against Serbia on Jan. 29 at San Diego and versus Jamaica on Feb. 3 at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Europe-based players will return when World Cup qualifying resumes March 24 against Honduras.
Seattle forward Clint Dempsey, sidelined since Aug. 21 by an irregular heartbeat, was not included.
“Clint’s making great progress,” Arena said. “He’s not fully ready to come into our camp, but we really believe by March he’ll be ready to play in Seattle and be a possibility for our qualifiers.”
Arena coached the U.S. from 1998-2006 and was hired in November after the Americans lost to Mexico and Costa Rica in the first two games of the final round of qualifying. He announced 11 players for his training camp roster on Dec. 16, a group that included defender DaMarcus Beasley, midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forwards Juan Agudelo and Gyasi Zardes.
Several players return following long absences: defender Chad Marshall was last at a national team training camp in January 2010, midfielder Dax McCarty in January 2011 and Feilhaber in January 2014.
“This is an opportunity that I’ve been waiting for,” Feilhaber, who turns 32 on Jan. 19, said in a statement. “I’m appreciative that Bruce has given me the chance to prove myself again on the international stage. Every player is entering January camp with a clean slate, and I plan to make the most of the opportunity given to me.”
Nine players are World Cup veterans, including the 34-year-old Beasley, the only American to play in four Cups. Beasley will compete with Greg Garza and Taylor Kemp to back up starting left back Fabian Johnson.
“His experience can help our team and his enthusiasm,” Arena said. “We think DaMarcus is a good player to compare others with because we know he’s been successful at the international level in that position.”
Altidore needs one international appearance to become the 17th American man to reach 100 and at 27 would be the second-youngest behind Landon Donovan, who was 26 at the time of his 100th appearance in 2008.
Altidore is scheduled to report on Jan. 12 and McCarty on Jan. 16.
Five of the eligible players have not appeared for the national team: defenders Kemp, Keegan Rosenberry and Walker Zimmerman, and midfielders Sebastian Lletget and Chris Pontius.
Arena said Graham Zusi will be used as a right back and Kellyn Acosta in defensive midfield.
Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose), Stefan Frei (Seattle), Bill Hamid (D.C.), Nick Rimando (Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls).
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (no club), Steve Birnbaum (D.C.), Brad Evans (Seattle), Greg Garza (Atlanta), Matt Hedges (Dallas), Taylor Kemp (D.C.), Chad Marshall (Seattle), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia), Walker Zimmerman (Dallas), Graham Zusi (Kansas City).
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia), Michael Bradley (Toronto), Benny Feilhaber (Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (no club), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (Los Angeles), Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia), Wil Trapp (Columbus).
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England), Jozy Altidore (Toronto), Jordan Morris (Seattle), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose), Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles).
The Associated Press