USMNT Launching Pad: 30 Players Who Initiated Their International Careers Through January Camp

Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Tyler Adams and Matt Turner Among Strong List of Names That Earned First or Second Cap at the Start of the Year
Jeff Crandall

January camp is upon us once again. A staple of the U.S. Men’s National Team calendar, this year’s training camp officially kicks off a huge cycle which will culminate in the USA co-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

And as is always the case, the 2023 January camp will provide an opportunity for a number of young players to begin carving out a place with the USMNT, an effort that could ultimately lead to a World Cup roster spot on home soil in three-and-a-half years. That last sentence may seem a bit heady, but history tells us it’s a prescient statement.

That’s because since 1999, 30 players who either debuted or earned their second cap during the team’s first camp of a calendar year have gone on to make at least one FIFA World Cup roster. Of those, 17 players made the World Cup squad for that particular cycle, with at least one player doing so in each of the five FIFA World Cups the USMNT has participated in since 2002.

And of the 26 players that were part of the USA squad at the recently concluded World Cup in Qatar, nine players earned either their first or second cap during a January camp match, among them Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, Tim Ream, Matt Turner and Walker Zimmerman. 

Also included among the 30 players are five who went on to earn 100 or more caps for the USMNT: Landon Donovan (157), Clint Dempsey (140), DaMarcus Beasley (126), Jozy Altidore (115) and Carlos Bocanegra (110).

So while the January matches won’t allow a full first-team USMNT squad to assemble, the last 20+ years of team history indicates at least one newbie player that faces Serbia or Colombia this month will be on the 2026 FIFA World Cup roster. Play it out a bit further. Whether you attend the Serbia or Columbia matches or watch them live on television, fans of the program you can say that you saw ______ earn his international debut three-and-a-half years before he represented the USA in the World Cup on home soil.

Here’s a breakdown of the 30 USMNT players that earned their first or second cap in camps prior to the start of the MLS season and went on to make a FIFA World Cup roster:

Player Cap No. Date World Cup Years
Ben Olsen 2 2/21/1999 vs. Chile 2006
Carlo Llamosa 2 2/21/1999 vs. Chile 2002
Clint Mathis 2 2/21/1999 vs. Chile 2002
DaMarcus Beasley 1 1/27/2001 vs. China PR 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Landon Donovan 2 1/27/2001 vs. China PR 2002, 2006, 2010
Carlos Bocanegra 2 1/19/2002 vs. Korea Republic^ 2006, 2010
Nick Rimando 2 1/18/2003 vs. Canada 2014
Clint Dempsey 2 2/9/2005 vs. Trinidad and Tobago* 2006, 2010, 2014
Brad Guzan 1 2/19/2006 vs. Guatemala 2010, 2014
Ricardo Clark 2 1/20/2007 vs. Denmark 2010
Kyle Beckerman 1 1/20/2007 vs. Denmark 2014
Jonathan Bornstein 1 1/20/2007 vs. Denmark 2010
Jozy Altidore 2 1/19/2008 vs. Sweden 2010, 2014
Alejandro Bedoya 1 1/23/2010 vs. Honduras 2014
Geoff Cameron 1 2/24/2010 vs. El Salvador 2014
Chris Wondolowski 1 1/22/2011 vs. Chile 2014
Omar Gonzalez 2 1/22/2011 vs. Chile 2014
Mix Diskerud 2 1/22/2011 vs. Chile 2014
Tim Ream 2 1/22/2011 vs. Chile 2022
Sean Johnson 1 1/22/2011 vs. Chile 2022
Graham Zusi 1 1/21/2012 vs. Venezuela 2014
Matt Besler 1 1/29/2013 vs. Canada 2014
DeAndre Yedlin 1 2/1/2014 vs. Korea Republic 2014
Kellyn Acosta 1 1/31/2016 vs. Iceland 2022
Walker Zimmerman 1 2/3/2017 vs. Jamaica 2022
Tyler Adams 2 1/28/2018 vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina 2022
Cristian Roldan 2 1/28/2018 vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina 2022
Jesús Ferreira 1 2/1/2020 vs. Costa Rica 2022
Brenden Aaronson 1 2/1/2020 vs. Costa Rica 2022
Matt Turner 1 1/31/2021 vs. Trinidad and Tobago 2022
*Notes World Cup Qualifier; ^Notes Gold Cup Match