In choosing his 27-man roster for the 10-day training camp leading up to the national team's on-going "five-game tournament," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann largely skipped the youth. Besides the habitual calls for Jozy Altidore and Danny Williams, Klinsmann limited his younger choices largely to the true standouts of the disastrous Olympic qualifying campaign, calling in just four former U-23s: Alfredo Morales, Terrence Boyd, Joe Corona and Juan Agudelo.
On a roster of veterans, that foursome stands out. The camp is dominated by players who had monster years in Europe, national team regulars and veterans at the top of their games, while none of the Olympic four had a truly exceptional season at the first-team club level. Corona came on strong late after early playing time struggles at Tijuana, but Agudelo, Morales and Boyd have all seen only limited, if any, first team action this year.
So the odds were good that when Klinsmann was ready to cut four players to get his roster to 23 for the World Cup qualifiers, as he did last week, those four would be at the top of the list.
It didn't turn out that way, as Boyd and Corona made the team. Morales and Agudelo, for their part, were sent back to their clubs. But there's a reason all four were called in ahead of other more seasoned players for this camp: Klinsmann sees them as central to the young core of the program going forward. The coach has compared the upward trajectory and ceilings of this group to Olympic teammates including Perry Kitchen, Teal Bunbury and, yes, Freddy Adu, and decided that in the U.S. player pool, this is where the upward mobility is.
It's a bold decision. More than looking for help in the upcoming qualifiers, Klinsmann's betting that two summers from now, these four players will be in vastly different positions in the world of club football. In the meantime, here's where each fits into the current team's pecking order:
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