The Jan Camp and Replacing Charlie Davies

Jan Camp Opened Door For Davies

I disagree with Jamie Trecker almost completely. Trecker dismisses the need for a January USMNT training camp and argues that USSF money could be better spent elsewhere. Now I have no idea how much this camp costs. But unless it is astronomically high, this camp is well worth it, especially now.

Let’s take the case of Charlie Davies. While Davies was an emerging player of interest late 2008, let us not forget the kid basically came out of nowhere. We forget that the first game that Charlie Davies started for the USMNT in a match that mattered was against Egypt in the confederations cup. Davies played an extremely bit part in all the previous qualifiers and even failed to make the bench on a number of occasions. He was such a bit part in 2008 that he didn’t play in the Olympics save for the last 10 minutes of the final game against Nigeria. A year later Davies was starting against Mexico in Azteca!

While Davies was called in that fall to play an irrelevant game against Trinidad, I would argue that it was the January camp that solidified his position as a solid option for the national team. Davies started against Sweden and no doubt impressed Bob Bradley during that camp, laying the groundwork for his future national team inclusion.

So why is the camp useful?

1. Talent scouting. Much of the purpose of this camp is to lay the groundwork for future years, but I would argue that this is also vital for this World Cup year. Trecker, in his infinite wisdom, dismisses all the players called in, claiming there are “no hidden gems” in this pool. I for one think there is no way of knowing and that there very well may be. The players I am most excited to see our 22 year olds Marcus Tracy, Robbie Findley, as I think both of these guys if hit form could be legitimate contenders to make the squad in replace of Davies – and are at similar points in development as Davies was one year ago. Both of those players have not really been on the national team radar until recently and both have loads of potential. And this gives Bradley the chance to see them up close in personal and put them under a national team training regiment.

2. Maintain fitness, sharpness, and player development.
MLS has a long offseason, too long, to maintain sharpness and for young players this can erode their development. One could argue that MLS’ long offseason has hurt Donovan’s development for instance, such that his loan spell at Bayern Munich helped laid the groundwork for his outstanding year.

3. Increasing depth and identifying the next generation.
The Jan camp allows Bradley to bring in players that he would normally be unable to bring in due to roster restrictions. This allows him to see the next generations of players up close and personal, giving him more info about a players work ethic, attitude, and potential.

Any national team coach would die to have the luxury of this camp. While it may not be that exciting or worthwhile from a viewers point of view, for a coach and for squad development it is huge.

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