Omar Gonzalez, the man most desired by U.S. soccer fans, has made his way onto Jurgen Klinsmann's first January roster.
Teammate Todd Dunivant was snubbed.
Gonzalez, Major League Soccer's Defender of the Year, is joined by Galaxy teammate A.J. DeLaGarza on the 20-man roster, but the fourth Galaxy backliner, Sean Franklin, who was part of the last January camp, also was left home.
Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce, who was on the 2010 World Cup preliminary roster, also is on Klinsmann's list, as are So Cal products Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA), the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, and Benny Feilhaber (Irvine/Northview HS and UCLA), a New England Revolution midfielder.
The team is missing its Europe-based stars, with just two players (Danish-based defender Michael Parkhurst and 2010 World Cup midfielder Ricardo Clark, who plays in Germany) brought in, both while their clubs are on winter break.
Camp opens Jan. 3 in Phoenix, heads to Home Depot Center from Jan. 13 to 20, then returns to Arizona for the Jan. 21 friendly against Venezuela at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The team then heads to Panama for a Jan. 25 match.
The roster, as always, is filled with mostly younger, lesser-experienced MLS players, and if Gonzalez's inclusion, which was expected, is a positive -- fans and media have clamored for the big Texan's involvement with the national team most of this year -- Dunivant's omission is most curious, given the Americans' deficiencies at left back.
Dunivant, 30, is coming off a sensational MLS Best XI campaign with the Galaxy, and the annual January camp -- at least under Bob Bradley, Klinsmann's predecessor -- usually has rewarded players coming off outstanding MLS seasons.
Klinsmann's philosophy differs from Bradley's in many respects. He's brought in a smaller group -- just 20 players; Bradley had 24 in last January's camp and 30 in 2010 -- and appears to have a sharper concept of what he's looking for.
“We have an internal ranking of players in each position based on how we want to play, and many of these players are next in line,” Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer's website. “The European-based players and the Mexican-based players aren’t available, so this is their shot. Their goal has to be to move ahead of the guy in front of him in their position, and the only way they can do that is to show how good they are.
“This is a big opportunity for them, and at the end we will give them a straight forward answer as to where they stand.”
The list includes just two first-time call-ups -- Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong, MLS's Rookie of the Year, and midfielder Graham Zusi -- and three more who have never seen game action with the U.S.: DeLaGarza (was in last January's camp), D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (Tim Howard's backup in six of the U.S.'s seven games under Klinsmann) and FC Dallas defender George John (bowed out of last January's camp following ankle surgery, trained with Greece last spring).
Parkhurst and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson also received their first call-ups from Klinsmann.
Gonzalez, a veteran U.S. youth national-teamer, was in the last two January camps. He debuted in August 2010 against Brazil, the first post-World Cup outing, and played the first half against Chile last January at Home Depot Center. This is his first invitation since then.
Dunivant, older than everyone in camp except Rimando (who is 32), has made two international appearances, both in 2006.
Hamid (West Bromwich Albion), Johnson (Everton), New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo (VfB Stuttgart and Liverpool), RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman (FC Kaiserslautern), Colorado midfielder Jeff Larentowicz (Bolton) and FC Dallas winger Brek Shea (Arsenal) have trained abroad since their MLS seasons finished. Agudelo, Hamid, Johnson, Shea and K.C. forward Teal Bunbury are age-eligible for next summer's London Olympics.
“With the Olympics coming up and the coaching staff sharpening the competition amongst the players, this is an important time in our development process,” Klinsmann said. “I’m very curious to see this group of players and how they handle the physical side of the camp, and how they handle the challenge of playing two very good teams in Venezuela and Panama. I’m curious to see their overall approach when they get out of their comfort zone in this camp. At the end of the day, it will create for a bigger depth for us.”
Here's the full roster, with caps/goals:
Bill Hamid (D.C. United) 0/0
Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire) 1/0
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 5/0
Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) 1/0
A.J. DeLaGarza (Galaxy) 0/0
Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy) 2/0
George John (FC Dallas) 0/0
Zach Loyd (FC Dallas) 1/0
Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland/Denmark) 9/0
Heath Pearce (Chivas USA) 33/0
Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 18/1
Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany) 32/2
Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution) 38/2
Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids) 2/0
Brek Shea (FC Dallas) 9/0
Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) 0/0
Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls) 15/2
Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City) 2/1
C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City) 0/0
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 5/0