Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielders Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber were announced Sunday as part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s 25-player roster for the first U.S. men’s national team training camp in 2013.
The Houston Dynamo (Will Bruin, Brad Davis, Tally Hall) and San Jose Earthquakes (Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow , Chris Wondolowski) also had three players called into the training camp, which convenes today at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Besler, who made the national team’s game-day roster for a 1-0 win against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in August, will get an extended opportunity to impress Klinsmann for the first time — and he is determined not to waste the chance.
“Every player is going in to try to impress, but I’m also aware that there is a great opportunity at my position,” said Besler, a left-footed centerback and the reigning MLS defender of the year.
In addition to the final round of World Cup qualifying, the U.S. men’s national team will play the CONCACAF Gold Cup and celebrate U.S. Soccer’s 100-year anniversary with a beefed-up slate of friendlies this year.
It starts Jan. 29 in Houston with a friendly against Canada, the national team’s only match before the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying kicks off Feb. 6 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
“Obviously, it’s a big opportunity, because there are so many matches, but also because there are a lot of opportunities for center defenders,” said Besler, an MLS Best XI selection last season. “I’m really excited for the next 25 days.”
Besler, 25, an Overland Park native, hopes to follow the same path Zusi laid out in 2012 by impressing at the January camp and using it as a springboard to regular duty.
Zusi, who led MLS with 15 assists last season and also was a Best XI selection, debuted with the national team a year ago and went on to make six appearances — all wins — for the U.S., emerging as a critical figure in the midfield.
He will join the training camp after a weeklong trial with West Ham in the English Premier League wraps up.
“This year will be an exciting one for U.S. Soccer, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get it started with all the guys,” Zusi said in a release from Sporting KC. “Last year, this camp enabled me to take the next step as a player and it’s always important to make the most of the chances like this when they come.”
Feilhaber, who was acquired in a trade with the New England Revolution last month, has appeared in 39 national team games, including the 2010 World Cup.
He heads to Klinsmann’s camp for the first time since last January after a disappointing 2012 season.
Of course, Besler’s thrilled foe the chance to get to know his new teammate.
“I’ve maybe said ‘Hi’ to him once or twice after games a few times,” Besler said of Feilhaber. “That’s definitely one of the things I’m looking forward to is talking to him and getting to know him on a personal level.”
The trio are expected to join Sporting KC in Arizona for training sometime in late January — unless, of course, they remain with the national team for the Honduras match as well.
Despite a career-high nine goals last season, forward C.J. Sapong, who was included in last January’s camp, wasn’t invited this season. He was snubbed in favor of Colorado’s Edson Buddle and Chivas USA’s Juan Agudelo.