USMNT Newbies: Meet the First-Time Players at December Camp

Jonathan Gomez, Taylor Booth, Kevin Paredes, Gabriel Slonina, Taylor Booth, Kobi Henry and John Pulskamp take their first steps with the USMNT this week
By: Michael Lewis

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s current camp leading up to the Dec. 18 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina will serve two main purposes.


While the camp is being utilized to keep a number of the team’s core domestic players in form leading into next month’s crucial World Cup Qualifiers, it also presents an opportunity to introduce to the program a number of younger players who have earned a look.


Seven of the youngsters that make up the 26-player roster will go through their first USMNT camp this week. Here’s more about them:

taylor booth - Midfielder

It seemed only natural for Taylor Booth to not only play the beautiful game, but to excel at it. His mother Kelli (Utah State) and father Chad (Weber State), played the sport in college.


The versatile Booth has made a natural progression to the U.S. Men's National Team, competing for the Under-15, U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 sides the past five years. That includes two appearances in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. It hasn't hurt that Booth can play any midfield position and at right back.


Booth spent his formative soccer years at La Roca FC in Utah before joining the Real Salt Lake Academy from 2016-18.


As a 17-year-old in 2019, he received an offer to join the Bayern Munich setup, signing on with the Bundesliga giants earlier than the age of 18 because he obtained an Italian passport due to Italian heritage on his father's side.


After playing with Bayern's U-19 squad from 2019-20, the 5-9, 145-lb. Booth made his pro debut with the club’s second team as a substitute in a 3-2 victory over Waldhof Mannheim in 3. Liga on June 14, 2020. He was loaned out to Austrian side St. Pölten for the 2020-21 season.


Now 20, Booth made his first team Bayern debut as a 68th-minute substitute in a 12-0 win at Bremer SV in the DFB Pokal on Aug. 25. The Eden, Utah native has made 15 appearances for Bayern Munich II so far this season.


caden clark - forward

Caden Clark burst onto the scene with great fanfare last year. Only hours after signing his first MLS contract with the New York Red Bulls on Oct. 10, 2020, Clark made his debut and scored in a 1-0 win over Atlanta United. Clark, 17 years and 143 days old at the time, became the fifth youngest player in league history to score in his MLS debut.


He finished the season with two goals over 279 minutes and seven games, adding a goal during the MLS Cup playoffs. The Red Bulls acquired Clark’s MLS rights from Minnesota United in exchange for $75,000 in General Allocation Money


A player with nose for the goal, the 5-11, 150-lb. Clark continued his outstanding play before a June 21 appendectomy slowed down his progress and production. He finished the season with four goals and five assists in 17 starts, 24 appearances and 1,509 minutes.


On June 24, the Red Bulls announced Clark's transfer to RB Leipzig (Bundesliga), although he remained with the MLS club through the end of the campaign. He is set to join former Red Bulls and current USMNT midfielder Tyler Adams with the Bundesliga side.


Clark played twice for the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team during last month’s Revelations Cup in Mexico, wearing the captain's armband and converting a penalty kick in a 1-1 draw against the Colombia U-19 side on Nov. 13.


Born on May 27, 2003 in Medina, Minn., Clark starred for the Minnesota Thunder Academy and Barca Residency Academy in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

jonathan gomez - defender

It seems that every time we turn around, Jonathan Gomez is making some news. 


On Sept. 30, Louisville City agreed to transfer Gomez to Spanish La Liga side Real Sociedad, where he’ll join the club’s “B’ team at the start of 2022. Gomez finished out the campaign with Lou City, appearing in 29 matches while helping the club to the USL Championship Eastern Conference Final.


For his stellar play this season, the 18-year-old was named the USL Championship's Young Player of the Year, while earning league's first team honors.


Gomez also has demonstrated flair as a backline player, scoring twice and collecting eight assists this past season.


Born to Mexican parents in Richland Hills, Texas on Sept. 1, 2003, Gomez joined the FC Dallas Academy at age 12 as a left winger in 2016 but was moved to outside back. At 15, he signed an amateur contract with North Texas SC, FC Dallas' affiliate in USL League One, helping the squad win the 2019 championship.


On March 5, 2020, the 5-10, 157-lb. Gomez turned pro, signing with Louisville City. He made his debut as an 83rd-minute substitute in a 3-1 defeat to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on July 11, 2020.


kobi henry - defender

What a memorable six days it was for Kobi Henry.


On Sunday, Nov. 28, the 17-year-old defender's Orange County SC team captured its first USL Championship in a 3-1 win at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.


On Friday, Dec. 3, he was called up to the USMNT for the very first time.


Born in Lakeland, Fla. on Aug. 26, 2004, Henry played in the Florida Rush Soccer Academy before moving to the Orlando City SC youth teams in 2018. He joined Inter Miami in 2019, making 16 appearances for its U.S. Soccer Development Academy squad, before signing a professional contract with Orange City on June 18, 2020. At the age of 16, Henry made his pro debut, entering as a stoppage time substitute in a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy II on Aug. 22, 2020. He made four appearances.


He broke into the Orange County lineup this past season, playing in 1,494 minutes while starting 16 games and performing in 19. The 6-2, 165-lb. Henry scored his first pro goal, heading home a free kick, in a 3-0 win over Oakland Roots SC on Aug. 1.


Henry already has played internationally for the USA at the Under-17 and U-20 levels. He started two matches for the U-17 squad at the UEFA Development Tournament in St George's Park, England in 2020 and made two U-20 appearances in the Revelations Cup in Mexico in November.


An interesting note: Henry's grandfather was on the Trinidad & Tobago coaching staff the day the USMNT defeated the Caribbean team, 1-0, to reach the 1990 World Cup on Nov. 19, 1989

kevin paredes - defender

Kevin Paredes has excelled on both sides of the ball. He started to turn heads while with the D.C. United Academy in 2013. The midfielder-wingback scored 39 goals in 85 appearances in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy before signing the MLS side as its 14th Homegrown Player on Jan. 17, 2020.


After playing for Loudoun United during the 2019 USL Championship season (one assist in three matches), Paredes made his MLS debut as a 58th-minute substitute in United's 2-2 draw with Toronto FC during the MLS Is Back Tournament on July 13, 2020. He made his first start in scoreless tie with FC Cincinnati on Aug. 21, 2020.


Now 18, Paredes enjoyed a breakout 2021 season. He scored three goals and added an assist in 24 appearances (19 starts). He has made 41 appearances, including 28 starts, the past two seasons.


Paredes earned MLS team of the Week selections on three occasions in 2021. He also was named 11th on the MLS 22 Under 22 list in October.


Born in South Riding, Va. on May 7, 2003, Paredes recorded his first MLS assist as a halftime substitute in a 2-1 win over Atlanta United on Oct. 24, 2020. He tallied his first MLS goal in a 7-1 triumph over Toronto FC on July 3, 2021.


The 5-6, 120-lb. midfielder has made three appearances with the Under-17 NT, registering a goal and an assist. He tallied his goal in the USA's 3-3 draw with the Netherlands on Nov. 14, 2019.


Paredes did take part in a couple days of camp leading up to this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup, but this will his first time as a rostered USMNT player.

john pulskamp - goalkeeper

John Pulskamp is used to being thrown into the deep end of the pool. Only two days before his 20th birthday, the 5-10, 190-lb. goalkeeper made his Sporting Kansas City debut after regular Tim Melia and his backups were injured. Pulskamp backstopped SKC to a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.


He returned to his "day job" Sporting KC II's starting keeper, playing 28 matches while getting the call from the MLS club five more times when Melia sat out with injuries and a suspension this season.


Born on April 19, 2001, in Bakersfield, Calif., Pulskamp was a standout for the Central California Aztecs and Real So Cal in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy before he joined LA Galaxy II in 2017 for two years.


Pulskamp, who was on trial with Bournemouth (England) in 2018, joined KC's affiliate, Swope Park Rangers, the next year. After an impressive campaign, he signed with Sporting as a Homegrown player on Feb. 24, 2000. Pulskamp became SKC's second youngest goalkeeper as the team sent the Galaxy $50,000 in General Allocation Money for his rights.


In his U-20 debut, Pulskamp did not allow a goal before he was substituted at halftime in a 2-2 draw against Mexico on Jan. 18, 2020.


gabriel slonina - goalkeeper

Before he made a save for the Chicago Fire, Gabriel Slonina already made history. When he signed with the MLS club on March 8, 2019, Slonina at the time was the youngest Homegrown player signing in league history (14 years, 297 days) and was second youngest player to join a team, second only to Freddy Adu (14 years, 168).


He he already has started to live up to his promise.


On Aug. 4, he became the youngest starting keeper in league history, backstopping Chicago to a scoreless draw against New York City FC. Slonina wound up starting 11 matches for the Fire down the stretch while securing four clean sheets. He was named Fire Man of the Match twice and tied his personal best with eight saves in a 2-0 loss at the Columbus Crew on Nov. 7.


The 6-4, 194-lb. Slonina was born in Addison, Ill. on May 15, 2004. He joined the Chicago Fire Academy from 2016-19, playing for the U-14, U-15 and U-16 squads in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.


The son of Polish parents, Slonina has represented the USA in several age groups, most recently with the U-20 USMNT at the Revelations Cup in Celaya, Mexico. He played in the opening match, a 4-0 loss to Brazil on Nov. 10, and captained the team in a 2-1 defeat to Mexico on Nov. 16.

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