Q and A with U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Bob Bradley
ussoccer.com: As we look at the January camp roster, clearly there’s an attempt to see some new faces.
Bob Bradley: “That’s exactly right. I think it’s an opportunity to pick up on some of the work we did in South Africa. We have some younger players that we think, with time, can grow into important roles with our national team. The January camp is always an opportunity to look a little closer at players that have had very good seasons in MLS, and also some players that are playing regularly with their club teams in Scandinavia.”
ussoccer.com: We’ll be seeing lot of younger faces, and not a lot of experience in this roster. It seems like you’ve gone in that direction as opposed to some years past where you have had some veteran players in the group.
BB: “Every year is different. We’ve had January camps where we were still using the camp with the idea that there will be a qualifier coming up early in February and we needed to have some players in shape because they were players that we were going to use for that situation. This time around we thought about some different ideas. The Gold Cup doesn’t begin until June, so we have a little more time there. We also understand going forward that it’s an opportunity to at least begin the process of looking at some Under-23 players, players that will be able to play for our Olympic team in qualifying. We really tried to focus on players that have not been in January camps so that we could see what some of these new faces are all about and get to see them in this situation.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve been through several of these January camps now. It’s a situation that doesn’t exist in many countries, almost a luxury in the United States, that you have an opportunity to spend more than three weeks and really get to know some of these players and evaluate where they may fit in the pool.
BB: “The January camp gives us that opportunity. It’s almost in many ways like a pre-season camp. We work players hard, but we have a lot of time to see how they respond to the rigors of training every day, and all of it points towards a game where we get a good picture of what they’re like when they step on the field.”
ussoccer.com: With the Gold Cup coming up this summer and also World Cup qualifying likely to be starting in the fall, where does this camp fit in terms of your plans in building the team for what lies ahead?
BB: “When you combine what we will see in this camp with some of the opportunities that we’ll have in February and March with some of the fixture dates, I think that we’ll have a really good grip on our pool of players looking towards the Gold Cup. It will be an opportunity in that regard to really assess fully our strengths and weaknesses, and know how to put together a roster that’s going to give us a chance to win the Gold Cup.”