With the final round of World Cup Qualifying just around the corner for the U.S. Men's National Team, head coach Jürgen Klinsmann elected to exclude his European and Mexico-based players from the U.S. January Training Camp that started three weeks ago.
Instead, he called upon a squad of young players based mainly in Major League Soccer, hoping to get their feet wet in the National Team pool. Eighteen of those players made the roster for the U.S. last night at BBVA Compass Stadium, when they drew 0-0 with Canada in a friendly match.
Very few if any of these players will be called back when the U.S. heads to San Pedro Sula, Honduras next week for the start of the final Qualifying campaign. Nonetheless, here are five things Hair Balls took from Tuesday's 0-0 draw.
5. Canada was completely satisfied with the scoreless draw
And how could they not be? It was just this past Saturday that they got hammered 4-0 by Denmark. With how much time the Americans spent attacking, this game was destined for a similar result. A finish or two there, and fans would've left happy.
"With Canada being so busy with just staying back and being very defensive-minded, you just hope that sooner or later we unlock that result and it opens up," Klinsmann said after the match. "That was not the case."
4. U.S. Defense should've just played a pick-up game with themselves
It would have been all the action they saw last night. With Canada's attack being nonexistent, the center back duo of Omar Gonzales and Matt Besler was never tested. This is shame, too, because the U.S. is desperate to find a central defender to partner with former Dynamo Geoff Cameron.
Klinsmann isn't too worried about Gonzales or Besler. He's pretty satisfied with the performances the pair put in during the training camp.
3. Younger players were exciting but still very raw
A total of five players earned their first cap with the Nats last night, while others are still barely dipping their feet in the pool. There was some excitement from players like Josh Gatt, Juan Agudelo and Will Bruin, but not enough to make you think they're ready for prime time just yet.
One of Klinsmann's best coaching attributes is his motivational techniques. And while this group of kids won't be replacing Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey anytime soon, Klinsmann hopes they left Tuesday's match with an itch to want more. He hopes they take with them what they learned in camp and apply it with their club team.
If you're a Dynamo fan, you're hoping Bruin is one of those players that gets the message.
2. Speaking of the three Dynamo players that were at the camp...
Only two of them made the 18-man roster last night -- Bruin and Brad Davis. Bruin came in as substitute in the 74th minute, so was never able to get settled into the match.
Davis started the match in his natural position, on the left side of the midfield. And as he does so often with the Dynamo, he spent a large chunk of time venturing into the center of the pitch. He ended with one of the best -- and few -- chances to score for the Stars and Stripes.
"I had an opportunity to score with my right foot, but that thing never works for me," Davis said.
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1. These MLS'ers were still in preseason form
Passes were not crisp, shots were off-target. That pretty much sums up what the fans witnessed last night at BBVA.
MLS was still in off-season mode when Klinsmann started his training camp. The U.S. did use all six of their allowed substitutions, not just because Klinsmann wanted to see as many players as possible, but because a lot of them couldn't go the whole 90 minutes.
It'll be a different story for the U.S. next week when they travel to Honduras. The foreign-based players will be match fit and ready to go. Now it's just a matter of seeing who Klinsmann calls up for the Qualifiers, and if any of these guys will be joining the squad.