What happened to our backline – John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, DeAndre Yedlin. Where’s that stud Christian Pulisic and super striker Bobby Wood? Have we just regressed? No. Stop panicking. Most clubs won’t release their players for a camp like this one. However, this is a great opportunity for our MLS players who have been out of game shape for weeks or even months to get closer to game fit. It’s also an open for some new young MLS players to try to make a name for themselves and break in.
Names like Jordan Morris are a little better known so I left him and a few others off, focusing on the lesser known young players. Here’s a little bit about those guys…
David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS)
Bingham isn’t a household name with the likes of Tim Howard, especially after Tim’s incredible performance at the 2014 World Cup against Belgium. Brad Guzan was the heir apparent – starting in Europe and having a successful campaign leading the team in the 2015 Copa America, but suddenly lost his seat for his club and his US standing has been called into question. Some have wondered if he was truly going to take over regardless due to his often obvious position issues, indecisiveness and flair for gaffes.
David is one of the young rising stars that could jump on the scene. At 27 he’s just entering his prime years for a goalkeeper. He’s following his sister’s footsteps who played in college and for the USWNT in net.
Born in California, he played his youth soccer there before attending the University of California, Berkeley. He spent his first year on the bench behind now USMNT teammate in camp Stefan Frei. In 2009 he was named to the All-Pac-10 second team with a .95 goals against record before his 2010 campaign where he took the Golden Bears to the quarterfinals only to lose in penalties to the future champions Akron. He was selected in the 2011 MLS Superdraft by San Jose Earthquakes, his favorite childhood team. He finished 2015 fourth in the league with 105 saves and was rewarded with his first call up the USMNT national team. Bingham was recognized as theScore’s 2016 Team of the Season.
For USMNT Bingham opened his tally against Canada last year in February in a friendly against Canada. He also entered the friendly against New Zealand that same year. He’s certainly in the running of a long list of young keepers who hope to grab the mantle from Tim Howard.
Check out this goal by Keeper David Bingham against West Brom in a friendly from 2011:
Matt Hedges (FC Dallas, MLS)
Hedges was born to a sports family in Rochester, NY. Both of the 26 year old defender’s parents played college sports and his sister played soccer for Wisconsin. Matt attended Butler and was an All-American, along with many other accolades during his tenure as a Bulldog. His junior year he led his team, scoring four game-winning goals before deciding to transfer to the University of North Carolina for his senior year. He was part of the 2011 NCAA national championship team recording six goals and an assist in his solo season for UNC.
Hedges was a first round draft pick for FC Dallas in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He made his debut in April 2012 and became a regular starter almost immediately. He scored his first goal for FC Dallas in a clutch game tying goal in the 90th against Sporting Kansas City. By the 2014 season, Matt was Captain and has been ever since.
A natural leader and anchor for the defense, he has built a reputation as one of the top defenders in all of MLS. He was in the final list for first team honors in 2015 before earning the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year honors last year. Hedges is definitely one of a long list of prospective center backs that could receive the baton from guys like Geoff Cameron in the next cycle.
Taylor Kemp (D.C. United, MLS)
Kemp is likely the least known name on this list, but may have one of the best opportunities of all the young players mentioned. The left back position still seems up for grabs to allow Fabian Johnson to move forward into his natural and club midfield position. At age 26 he’s primed to make a run that could include the 2018 World Cup if no one else emerges. Kemp was born in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and soccer runs in the blood. His sister played at Wake Forest University. Taylor was recognized at a young age and was rated the Number 2 recruit by ESPN Rise Magazine was recognized early by his country in the U18 and U20 development academies. He won a state championship and was recognized as MVP on that team.
He played his college soccer at the University of Maryland and took over as captain of the team his senior year. He received All-ACC honors in three of his four years and was part of some memorable moments including an 88th minute goal in the NCAA Tournament to lead his team past Penn State in a 1-0 victory. He won two ACC Championships in his time at UMD. Taylor was drafted 17th overall by D.C. United and broke into the line up in 2015. He holds down the left flank and provides lethal crosses for his recently upgraded D.C. United striking unit. He was a leader on the team in assist in 2015 before really taking over the left back position in 2016. He tied a franchise record with three assists in one game, adding three more on the season for a career year and tucked two goals in the back of the net to round out his stat sheet.
Taylor is a devout Catholic and his relationship with God grounds him when things get tough in the professional sports world. Kemp is a left back, but his nickname is “Shooter” because of his deadly powerful left foot. It was hard to choose from a few of his highlight real of goals for D.C. United which might give him the edge in a weak left back pool.
Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union, MLS)
Keegan, one of the youngest players at camp at 23, grew up in rural Ronks, Pennsylvania. He was captain of his teams in both high school and college and did the little thing well. He showed qualities on and off the field early in his youth as a scout from Georgetown University saw when he came to watch him play. One scout recalled a game where Keegan was heading back to the team bus and then stopped returned to the bench and cleaned of all of the trash and debris that was around his team’s bench and threw it all away. The scout recalled knowing right then that he wanted Rosenberry on his team. It also didn’t hut that Keegan’s passing was spot on and he was someone who seemed to pursue improving all the time.
Like many on players on this list Rosenberry led his high school team to a state title before going on to college. He played four years at Georgetown University. He also played for Reading United AC in the Premier Development League in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 he was draft third overall by his local club Philadelphia Union in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. He finished his first season with two goals and two assists, but was well respected on a mediocre team for his excellent play. On top of playing well, he kept his head as he committed the second fewest fouls in the league and was never booked all season. Incredible for a defender on a sub-par team.
Keegan has quickly become a fan favorite and a name many brought up during Klinsmann’s tenure as deserving a call up.
Keegan held his own in his rookie year and looked to have the Rookie of the Year honors in his targets if not for a late surge by his dangerous USMNT teammate, Jordan Morris. Jordan led the Champion Seattle Sounders late season surge and was an easy choice as the Rookie of the Year winner.
Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas, MLS)
Zimmerman is another player who probably few know the name, but one you definitely need to start learning. He grew up with sports and leadership in his blood. His grandfather and great grandfather played football in college and both were captains at Auburn University. He has professional athletes all over his family including his brother who punted at Clemson and for the Atlanta Falcons. Walker is the son of David Zimmerman, a Baptist Minister for 21 years in Texas.
“I don’t know how long God has for me to play, but I intend to not just talk, but actually show up every step of the way.”
Walker is 23 and came up through the ranks of the U18, U20 and U23 teams with a few appearances on each. He was in the youth academy at Gwinnett Soccer Association in Lilburn, Georgia. He also played for Furman University in 2011 and 2012 where he won All-Southern Conference first team honors and finished his career with 11 goals and 5 assists. He was selected seventh overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and made his debut against D.C. United in 2013. In 2015 he made a great memory by knocking the Seattle Sounders out of the playoffs with a penalty kick to end the game. He finished last season with four goals and got Goal USA’s 2016 MLS Defender of the Year honors.
His tall 6’3 frame helps him defend the air or sky on corner kicks and be a threat on a dangerous FC Dallas squad. This is Zimmermans first time getting called up to the senior USMNT team. He’s a tall center back, that joins a competitive field in the middle of defense.
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy, MLS)
Llegets was born and raised in California to Argentine parents. He was discovered by West Ham and they signed him to their International academy. He joined the full team in 2010 and got his debut in 2014 against Nottingham Forrest. He couldn’t quite seem to break into the squad and after a few years and only a few appearances with West Ham he joined Coach Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy in 2015.
LLetget made his debut for the team shortly after arriving with the club. He scored seven goals in his debut year and added 10 assists. He struggled a bit as he was adjusting to a new position in 2016 as the team added Steven Gerrard and some other new players last year.
Sebastian played with the US U17, U19 and U23 teams. This year is the 24 year old’s first ever call up to the senior team.
Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps FC, MLS)
Kekuta is a very interesting name on this list. He’s a 22 year old striker born in Gambia and moved to Texas as a teenager, who just recently received his US citizenship. He has been working for years to join the US squad and it appears is now happening.
Manneh lost his mother when he was 10 and had another family tragedy occur while he was attending school in the US. He came to the US in 2010 and attended Lake Travis High School planning to stay for a year. He was eventually adopted by the family Niccum he was staying with. He graduated from his high school in 2013 and drafted in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
He joined the Whitecaps in 2012, but lived across the border in the US in Point Roberts, Washington as he attempted to attain his US citizenship. MLS rated him number of five on their 2016 24 under 24 List.
He had an unfortunate broken foot injury in 2016 which kept him out of four months of play, but he was still able to manage five goals and two assist. Manneh had a great 2015 enjoying seven goals and six assists, as he broke on the scene for the Vancouver White Caps. He has 22 total goals for Vancouver and was the league’s youngest ever to record a hat trick. to The 22 year old has a lot of career ahead of him and will try to squeeze his way on to a recently crowded striker core for the USMNT.
This was Manneh’s first call up to the USMNT, though he’s been watched for some time now as his citizenship progressed.
Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC, MLS)
Trapp grew up in Columbus, Ohio and played for Lincoln High School and like many on this list lead his team to a State Champion. He was the 2010 National High School Player of the Year. He went on to the University of Akron where he played and scored one goal along with eight assists. The Columbus Crew signed him on a homegrown contract.
“Wil Trapp does his job, he brings the ball out for them… difficult to stop. He has for him a good future. As an American, [you] should be happy. I thought he was the difference.”
– Thierry Henry
Wil broke into the Crew in summer 2013 where he started and played the entire game. A year later he scored his first professional goal. He was named an All-Star in 2016, the first home grown player in MLS history to do so. “Willy Franchise” plays in the center of midfield where the team is aging out of Beckerman and Jones long holding their positions. He has great vision and strong passing to support his defensive posture.
Trapp came up through the US Soccer Development Academy playing at the U14, U15, U18, U20 and U23 levels. He Captained the 2016 U23 team before getting his debut for the senior team in 2015. This camp is his third time getting called up to the USMNT for the 23 year old. With the aging stars in the central midfield Trapp has an opportunity in this camp to take one of those spots.