The MNT’s annual January Camp always serves up new opportunity for a crop of rising players, and this year’s gathering will be no different. Fifteen of the 30 players summoned to Carson, California are looking for their first MNT cap, while 10 of those are making their debut in senior team camp.
Get to know the 10 taking their first strides with the MNT:
Danny Acosta | Defender | Real Salt Lake
One of three RSL products from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy coming to January Camp, the left back arrives at his first MNT gathering on the heels of a great calendar year for club and country. The Salt Lake City native was a key piece for the U-20 MNT throughout 2017, appearing in 11 of 12 matches in helping the USA to its first CONCACAF U-20 Championship title and a quarterfinal finish at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic. On the club front, RSL went 9-5-3 in matches Acosta appeared in, with the defender aiding in the side’s late-season resurgence along the way.
Russell Canouse | Midfielder | D.C. United
At just 22, Canouse already has a ton of club experience thanks to seven years in Germany with Hoffenheim and later VfL Bochum. During his time abroad the central midfielder was an integral part in Tab Ramos’ U-20 MNT side during the 2015 cycle, captaining the team at that year’s CONCACAF Championship and making the World Cup roster before having to pull out due to injury. A product of U.S. Soccer Development Academy sides PA Classics and New York Red Bulls, Canouse, who pronounces his last name as though is rhymes with “house,” returned stateside this past August when he signed for D.C. United alongside fellow January Camp attendees Paul Arriola and Ian Harkes as part of a youth resurgence at a D.C. United team that moves into its new home at Audi Field this summer.
Marky Delgado | Midfielder | Toronto FC
One of three members of MLS Cup winners Toronto FC called up by Dave Sarachan, Delgado has been rewarded for his workman-like performances in leading the Reds to the unprecedented treble this past season. A simple and efficient box-to-box midfielder, the 22-year-old has teamed with and learned from MNT captain Michael Bradley the past three years in doing much of the dirty work that has allowed the TFC attack to flourish. While it's his first appearance in MNT camp, Delgado is no stranger to the U.S. setup, having come through the U-17, U-18 and U-20 levels. Most recently, he started all five matches during the USA's run to the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
With his arrival in Carson, he'll be come the eighth member of that side to be part of an MNT camp. Delgado's other contemporaries from that group are Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Emerson Hyndman, Matt Miazga, Rubio Rubin and Zack Steffen.
Justen Glad | Defender | Real Salt Lake
RSL Academy experience? Check. RSL First Team? Check. U-20 MNT World Cup Alum? Check.
A physical center back with good vision, Glad is the third player on this list to tick all the above boxes and has become a mainstay in the middle of the RSL backline the past two seasons. His club play carried over to Tab Ramos’ U-20 MNT side for which he earned tournament Best XI honors at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. An injury coming out of that tournament hampered his ability to fully contribute at the U-20 World Cup, but Glad still took part in three matches and returned to RSL to aid in their late-season push for the playoffs.
Marlon Hairston | Midfielder | Colorado Rapids
One of the more enigmatic new-comers to MNT camp, Hairston is the only player on this list to play in each of his club’s 34 regular season games last season. Early on, those appearances were necessitated at right back, but Hairston later moved into a more natural attacking position further up the wing and finished the campaign with three goals and four assists. Now going into his fifth season with the Rapids, the pacey attacker could become the first Mississippi-born player since Justin Mapp in 2007 to earn a cap for the MNT.
Ian Harkes | Midfielder | D.C. United
If that name looks familiar to long-time MNT fans, that’s because it is! The son of former MNT captain and two-time World Cup veteran John Harkes, Ian takes his first step in senior team camp following a promising rookie season with D.C. United. After winning the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy following his senior season with Wake Forest, Harkes followed in his father’s footsteps by joining United on a Homegrown contract where he performed admirably, logging 25 appearances, two goals and an assist mostly in a central midfield role. Should he take the field on Jan. 28 vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Harkes family would become the sixth father/son tandem to make an appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Q: Can you name the others?
A: (fathers listed first) James and George Brown; Phillip and Joe Gyau; Harry and Ty Keough; Joe and Alain Maca; Tim and Taylor Twellman
Brooks Lennon | Midfielder | Real Salt Lake
One of three MNT camp debutants from Real Salt Lake, Lennon comes to Carson fresh off a fantastic year in 2017. The crafty winger was vital in leading the USA to its first CONCACAF U-20 Championship, scoring four goals on the way to collecting a spot on the tournament’s Best XI. He continued his run by adding two goals and two assists as the MNT drove to the Quarterfinals of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. On the club front, following a stint with the Liverpool Academy, Lennon returned stateside to join Real Salt Lake on loan where he recorded three goals and four assists across 24 games before making his stay permanent at the club in December 2017.
Nick Lima | Defender | San Jose Earthquakes
Just a shade more than 12 months ago, Lima was putting pen to paper on his first professional contract when he signed a Homegrown deal with San Jose Earthquakes. Flash-forward and the dependable right back has been summoned for his first MNT camp. Thrust into the starting lineup during MLS Opening Weekend last season, Lima was given the tough task of marking venerable Montreal Impact attacker Ignacio Piatti and performed splendidly in the Quakes’ 1-0 win. Though he would see his season end early due to injury, Lima contributed 22 appearances during his rookie season, helping push the club to its first U.S. Open Cup Semifinal appearance since 2004 and first postseason berth since 2012.
Ike Opara | Defender; Sporting Kansas City
At 28, Opara is the oldest of the first-timers, but he likely would have been here sooner if not for injuries. The 6-2 center back was actually tapped for January Camp back in 2011, but ended up withdrawing as he was just coming back from a foot injury. A member of the U.S. side at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup and in 2012 for Olympic Qualifying, Opara makes his long-awaited MNT camp debut after being crowned 2017 MLS Defender of the Year, a season that saw him record a career-high 30 appearances, three goals and also help Sporting KC to a fourth U.S. Open Cup title.
Christian Ramirez | Forward | Minnesota United FC
A prolific goalscorer during Minnesota United FC’s NASL days, Ramirez continued to find the back of the net during his debut MLS season, leading the line with 14 goals and three assists in 30 games for the expansion club. Another first-timer who’s on the older end of the spectrum, the 6-2 forward’s January call is well-deserved after finishing third among U.S.-eligible players on the MLS goalscoring chart behind fellow camp attendee CJ Sapong (16 goals) and veteran MNT striker Jozy Altidore (15).