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Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Kevin Baxter

USMNT's 24-man roster for next World Cup cycle is announced

LOS ANGELES — Five players who were on the U.S. team in last year's World Cup top a 24-man roster that was called up Wednesday for the national team's first training camp of the new World Cup cycle.

Midfielder Kellyn Acosta and defender Aaron Long of LAFC, center back Walker Zimmerman of Nashville SC, FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira and former New York City goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who were all on the American team in Qatar, are among 16 domestic-based players summoned by assistant coach Anthony Hudson, who will run the weeklong camp while U.S. Soccer continues its investigation into former manager Gregg Berhalter.

Berhalter, whose four-year contract expired Dec. 31, a month after he led the U.S. into the World Cup's round of 16, admitted earlier this month that he had a physical altercation with the woman who later became his wife while both were 18-year-old college freshmen. The federation hired an Atlanta law firm to look into the incident.

Hudson's roster also includes Galaxy defender Jalen Neal, 19, and forwards Brandon Vazquez and Alejandro Zendejas, dual nationals who are being called up for the first time. Vazquez plays in MLS with FC Cincinnati while Zendejas is with Mexico's Club América. They are among 13 players who will be looking for their first international cap during next week's friendlies with Serbia, Jan. 25 at Banc of California Stadium, and Colombia on Jan. 28 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The average age of the roster is 24 years, 7 weeks, and eight players are age-eligible for the 2024 Paris Olympics, which is a U-23 tournament.

Zendejas, 24, who grew up in El Paso and made his professional debut with FC Dallas, is one of seven non-MLS players on the roster, most ever for USMNT's January camp. Dating to 1999, 30 players who played either their first or second international games during the first camp of a calendar year have gone on to make a World Cup roster. That list includes Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, who all made more than 100 international appearances.

The game with Serbia will be the first the men's national team will play at Banc of California Stadium. The U.S. has played 17 times at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, going 12-2-3. The national team has played 114 times in California, most of any state.

The roster

— Goalkeepers: Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (Unattached), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea)

— Defenders: Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

— Midfielders: Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (Unattached), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

— Forwards: Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club América)

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