Berhalter names young lineup for training camp
The annual Southern California gathering, which avoids US talent on European clubs whose league competitions are ongoing, features a new generation for the Americans, who completed a house cleaning of coaches and leadership after failing to qualify for this year's World Cup in Russia.
"We are here to set the tone for the next four years," Berhalter said.
Berhalter's path to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, ahead of a US co-host role with Mexico and Canada in 2026, will be launched with friendlies against Panama on January 27 at Glendale, Arizona, and February 2 against Costa Rica at San Jose, California.
Berhalter was named December 2, becoming the first former US World Cup player to take command of the squad after the firing of German star Jurgen Klinsmann in November 2016, the failure of the US team to advance to the World Cup under caretaker coach Bruce Arena and a year of fill-in duty by Dave Sarachan.
"We're very excited to start to implement our ideas about the style of play and the culture we want to develop in the national team," Berhalter said.
A gathering of 27 players in Cula Vista on January 6 will include only two with more than 25 appearances on the team, Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley with 142 caps and Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes with 40.
"We started with a number of players who we think can be a core part of the group moving forward," Berhalter said. "We then looked at players that excelled this year in Major League Soccer, and finally chose players that can play a specific role in our game model."
The roster, with an average age of 24, includes US Men's Player of the Year Zack Steffen of Columbus but also features 12 uncapped players, seven of them on their first invitation to a US national camp.
The youngest player at the camp is 19-year-old Mark McKenzie, a Philadelphia defender who is among six players there who will be eligible for the US 2020 Tokyo Olympic squad.