Fire GK Johnson called up to U.S. MNT

Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who is entering his third season in MLS, has been called up by U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for a January training camp.

The session starts on Jan. 3 as the U.S. prepares for a Jan. 21 match against Venezuela in Glendale, Ariz., followed by a Jan. 25 game against Panama in Panama City.

"I'm definitely excited about it," Johnson said. "There's a lot to look forward to in getting to play alongside the guys that are going to be there. We have two games to cap off the camp, so I think it will be good competition, and one that will help prepare for the season, as well."

Other than defender Michael Parkhurst and midfielder Ricardo Clark, the 20-player roster consists of MLS players, five of which are in search of their first international cap.

"I've heard a lot of things from their club coaches and received a lot of recommendations," Klinsmann said. "These guys are leaders in their MLS teams, and now they have the chance to show themselves on another level. Hopefully they get that extra sense of responsibility after they spend time in our camp, and go back to their club teams and become role models."

Johnson made his U.S. MNT debut on Jan. 22 during a 1-1 draw against Chile at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. He played in the second half, replacing starter Nick Rimando. Johnson, Rimando and D.C. United's Bill Hamid represent the Americans' goalkeeping crew heading into this January's training session.

Johnson is currently training with U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter's squad, and he recently had an opportunity to train alongside U.S. starting goalkeeper Tim Howard and Everton FC.

With the upcoming Olympics, it is likely that Johnson will represent the U.S. and miss several Fire matches during the 2012 campaign.

"You're always honored to wear your nation's crest and to represent the U.S.," Johnson said. "With that, it's still tough to miss games with your club, but it's part of being a national team player. I'll likely miss games here or there, but I think representing my country is second to none. It'll be an interesting year, and a really busy one at that."

U.S.'s 20-man roster:

Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake); Defenders: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (Los Angeles Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA); Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City); Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Fire face Real España in preseason: The Fire announced Tuesday that they will be playing Honduran side Real España at 5 p.m. Feb. 4 at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans, La. Real Espana has won 10 Liga Nacional titles, including a 2010-11 championship.

Chicago will be training in Ave Maria, Fla., from Jan. 20 to Feb. 3 at the campus of Ave Maria University. The Fire's preseason docket includes a return to the Carolina Challenge Cup, which runs from Feb. 25 to March 4 in Charleston, S.C., against D.C. United, the Columbus Crew and host Charleston Battery.