Two days after BJ Callaghan was officially appointed caretaker coach of the USA men’s national team, he called up his first squad on Thursday and invited 24 players to training camp at Dignity Health Sports Park in anticipation of the CONCACAF Nations League Final Four later in this month prepare Las Vegas.
The team that gathers in Carson on Sunday is a mix of old and new, made up of 13 players who were in last autumn’s World Cup squad and 10 others who have less than nine caps. The latter includes Folarin Balogun, a tri-national striker who played for four England youth teams before moving to the United States as a senior. Balogun, 21, has scored 20 goals for Reims in France’s Ligue 1 this season, becoming the first US international to score at least 20 goals in a top-flight European league.
“What’s great about this group overall, alongside the vast playing experience and talent at the highest level, is the familiarity and understanding that has been built together over the last four years about our style and culture,” Callaghan said in a statement. “We’re excited to integrate some of the newer faces as we set about achieving our first goal of the summer, which is to defend the CONCACAF Nations League title.”
Callaghan, an assistant to coach Gregg Berhalter at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, became the team’s second interim manager in less than six months when he was named to succeed Anthony Hudson on Tuesday. Hudson requested release from his contract with US Soccer to pursue another international coaching opportunity.
Berhalter’s contract expired last December and he remains a candidate for the position of full-time manager of the team, although that position is not expected to be filled until later this summer.
Twenty of Callaghan’s 24-call-up come from foreign leagues, but there are also some notable injury-related absentees, including World Cup captain Tyler Adams, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Alongside Balogun, the squad also includes Chelsea attackers Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna, Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner and Leeds midfielder Weston McKennie. Midfielder Alan Soñora and forward Alex Zendejas, both Mexican Liga MX nationals, have also been called up. Both players graduated from USMNT earlier this year.
USA, the holders of the Nations League, will meet Mexico in the semi-finals of the tournament on June 15. Canada meets Panama in the other semi-final.
Goalkeeper: Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Josh Cohen (Maccabi Haifa), Sean Johnson (Toronto FC), Matt Turner (Arsenal)
Defender: Sergiño Dest (AC Milan), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfield player: Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Leeds United), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Alan Soñora (FC Juárez)
Forward: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Folarin Balogun (Stade Reims), Taylor Booth (Utrecht), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tim Weah (Lille), Alex Zendejas (Club America)