Ever since Bruce Arena was named the USMNT head coach for a second time, there’s been rampant speculation that he’ll be more likely to lean on MLS players than his predecessor. He largely confirmed that belief during Friday’s Facebook Live question-and-answer sessions, specifically mentioning Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris as likely participants in January’s camp.
“I’ve spoken to Clint recently and I’ve been in touch with the people in Seattle and we’re going to move along slowly,” Arena said. “Our goal is to bring Clint to the camp in January in a limited capacity and slowly build him into the preseason in Seattle and hope that he can be a consideration for our games in March.”
Dempsey has not been played a competitive game since Aug. 21 when the Sounders defeated the Portland Timbers 3-1 after he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
Morris’ named was also mentioned and Arena stated that he intends to call him into the camp as well. Morris was named along with Benny Feilhaber, Juan Agudelo, Gyasi Zardes, Darlington Nagbe, Chris Pontius, Dax McCarty, Keegan Rosenberry, Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman as potential MLS players being called into camp.
It’s important to note that Arena said that two-thirds of the player pool for the USMNT come from MLS. Unlike his predecessor in Jürgen Klinsmann, who was open about his desire to push players abroad, Arena wants his players to have playing time regardless of where they play.
“I want to encourage our players to play in the best environment possible to develop them, whether that's Major League Soccer or a club abroad,” he said. “For me, it makes no sense if a player is playing on a reputable club abroad and doesn't get on the field. So we have to find the right balance when recommending clubs for our players to sign with.”