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January Camp

Comparing Camps: A Look at the January MNT Camps of 2002, 2006, and 2010

January 4 is a day which has become symbolic with start of preparations for the World Cup. During the last three cycles, the fourth day of the new year has been the day players arrive in California to begin a training camp just six months before the world's biggest tournament commences. In 2010 it is no different, and January 4 again marked the beginning of the U.S. Men's National Team's final push heading towards its opening group game of the FIFA World Cup on June 12 against England.

The road to the World Cup is filled with tension and anticipation, and as the MNT gets ready for the home stretch, lays out some of the facts and figures from the two previous January camps to shed a little light on what the present might mean for the future.

To start, no player has been on all three rosters for the 2002, 2006 and 2010 January camps. However, there are a number of players in Bob Bradley's current squad who have received two of the three call-ups.

Nick Rimando and Zach Thornton were part of a goalkeeping contingent in 2002 which included veteran backstopper Tony Meola and a young Tim Howard, who was sporting zero caps at the time. Also in the squad was Jeff Cunningham, who had one cap to his name in the winter of '02.

Four players from the 2006 group are in camp four years later. Heath Pearce represented the only foreign-based player four years ago in Mission Viejo, joining up with the USA from 'Denmark's FC Nordsjælland, his club at the time. Chad Marshall and Kevin Hartman were in the team as well, while Hartman's future Kansas City club-mate Jimmy Conrad was also amongst the 28 players.

Conrad turned out to be one of the 2006 camp's success stories. After entering the year with just eight caps - having cut his teeth the previous year in the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup - the defender impressed Arena and the coaching staff sufficiently enough to earn a spot on the 2006 World Cup team, where he would later make appearances against Italy and Ghana.

Nine other players from the 2006 January camp in addition to Conrad would earn spots on the 2006 World Cup squad: Chris Albright, Brian Ching, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Pablo Mastroeni, Ben Olsen, Eddie Pope and Josh Wolff would make the trip to Germany, with Hejduk named to the squad before an injury forced his withdrawal.

Johnson, like Conrad, had less than 10 caps to his name, but had started his international career on a goalscoring tear, ripping off eight goals in nine matches.

In 2002, there were four players with less than 10 caps who boarded the plane to Korea. DaMarcus Beasley (three, at the time), Landon Donovan (9), Pablo Mastroeni (2) and Josh Wolff (10) would parlay a strong January camp into a trip to the World Cup, where all four would play a big role in the MNT's memorable run to the quarterfinals. Eddie Lewis and Frankie Hejduk, out of the national team fold for a spell, used that month to resurrect their international careers, and thankfully so. The Lewis assist on Donovan’s goal against Mexico remains one of the highlights of the previous decade for U.S. Soccer.

In total, 13 of the 28 players in Bruce Arena's 2002 January camp were named in the 23-man roster for Korea/Japan. Midfielder Chris Armas was named in the squad but forced to withdraw due to injury, and a similar fate affected his replacement Greg Vanney. Both were members of the January camp earlier in the year.

The 2010 edition of the camp stands out in a few ways. It has more European based players (5) than the 2002 camp (2) and the 2006 camp (1) combined. It also features an astounding 23 players holding 10 caps or less, compared with 15 in 2002 and 18 in 2006.

Seven players were looking for their first appearance in 2006, while just three were looking for a debut cap in 2002. Nine players are in the same position in 2010.

At the other end of the spectrum, the leading capwinner on the 2010 roster is midfielder Benny Feilhaber, with 30 caps. By comparison, 2002's roster featured all-time USA appearance leader Cobi Jones, who had 145 caps at the time, and the 2006 squad had Landon Donovan and Eddie Pope, both with 73 caps. In 2010, five players have more than 20 caps, compared with seven in 2006 and nine in 2002.

Just as there was in 2006, there is only one international fixture date in 2010. That game will be played on March 3, when the USA will travel to Amsterdam to meet the third-ranked Netherlands. Four years ago, the USA also traveled abroad, with a Clint Dempsey goal enough to beat Poland in a 1-0 win in the ‘snow bowl’ on March 1, 2006, in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

For the 30 players in camp, that March date will seem a long ways away, let alone the June 12 Group C opener. This is their chance to seize the moment, since as history has shown, the odds are that some of the names on the backs of jerseys here in Carson will find their way to South Africa.

2002 Squad
GOALKEEPERS (4): Tim Howard (0 caps, MetroStars), Tony Meola (97 caps, Kansas City Wizards), Nick Rimando (0 caps, Miami Fusion), Zach Thornton (8 caps, Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (8): Jeff Agoos (117 caps, San Jose Earthquakes), Carlos Bocanegra (1 cap, Chicago Fire), Dan Califf (0 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy), Frankie Hejduk (30 caps, Bayer Leverkusen), Carlos Llamosa (25 caps, Miami Fusion), Pablo Mastroeni (2 caps, Miami Fusion), Eddie Pope (44 caps, D.C. United), Greg Vanney (15 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy)
MIDFIELDERS (11): Chris Armas (35 caps, Chicago Fire), DaMarcus Beasley (3 caps, Chicago Fire), Bobby Convey (2 caps, D.C. United), Cobi Jones (145 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy), Manny Lagos (1 cap, San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Lewis (29 caps, Fulham FC), Brian Maisonneuve (10 caps, Columbus Crew), Clint Mathis (11 caps, MetroStars), Richard Mulrooney (1 cap, San Jose Earthquakes), Brian West (2 caps, Columbus Crew), Richie Williams (17 caps, MetroStars)
FORWARDS (5): Jeff Cunningham (1 cap, Columbus Crew), Landon Donovan (9 caps, San Jose Earthquakes), Brian McBride (50 caps, Columbus Crew), Ante Razov (19 caps, Chicago Fire), Josh Wolff (10 caps, Chicago Fire).

2006 Squad
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (0 caps, Chivas USA), Kevin Hartman (3 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy), Matt Reis (0 caps, New England Revolution), Jonny Walker (3 caps, Columbus Crew)
DEFENDERS (8): Chris Albright (18 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy), Jimmy Conrad (8 caps, Kansas City Wizards), Todd Dunivant (0 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy), Frankie Hejduk (68 caps, Columbus Crew), Ugo Ihemelu (0 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy), Chad Marshall (4 caps, Columbus Crew), Heath Pearce (1 cap, FC Nordsjælland), Eddie Pope (73 caps, Real Salt Lake)
MIDFIELDERS (12): Freddy Adu (0 caps, D.C. United), Brian Carroll (2 caps, D.C. United), Ricardo Clark (1 cap, Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (14 caps, New England Revolution), Landon Donovan (73 caps, Los Angeles Galaxy), Justin Mapp (1 cap, Chicago Fire), Kyle Martino (7 caps, Columbus Crew), Pablo Mastroeni (43 caps, Colorado Rapids), Pat Noonan (10 caps, New England Revolution), Ben Olsen (27 caps, D.C. United), Santino Quaranta (9 caps, D.C. United), Steve Ralston (32 caps, New England Revolution)
FORWARDS (6): Brian Ching (11 caps, Houston MLS), Nate Jaqua (0 caps, Chicago Fire), Eddie Johnson (9 caps, FC Dallas), Chris Rolfe (1 cap, Chicago Fire), Taylor Twellman (13 caps, New England Revolution), Josh Wolff (38 caps, Kansas City Wizards)