UPDATED: Dec. 22, 12:59 p.m. ET
After months of wondering whether or not Omar Gonzalez, George John and Geoff Cameron would fit into Jurgen Klinsmann's plans, United States fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The trio of Major League Soccer central defenders were included in Klinsmann's 20-man selection for the Stars and Stripes' January camp ahead of matches against Venezuela and Panama. The camp is generally used to provide players on the periphery of selection a chance to prove themselves on the national team level.
For dual nationals Gonzalez and John, who are eligible for Mexico and Greece, respectively, good performances could result in both being more consistent parts of the U.S. national pool of players.
Klinsmann told the U.S. Soccer official website that he has ranked American players by position and wanted to give a chance for some of his players to move up.
"We have an internal ranking of players in each position based on how we want to play, and many of these players are next in line," Klinsmann told the website. "The European-based players and the Mexican-based players aren't available, so this is their shot."
He added, "Their goal has to be to move ahead of the guy in front of him in their position, and the only way they can do that is to show how good they are. This is a big opportunity for them, and at the end we will give them a straight forward answer as to where they stand."
In addition to featuring some new faces on defense, the team will also have a young forward rotation in place for the upcoming friendlies. MLS Rookie of the Year CJ Sapong has been called up along with Sporting KC teammate Teal Bunbury. New York Red Bulls 18-year-old forward Juan Agudelo has also been added to the roster.
Klinsmann selected a largely domestic-based group that includes 18 players who play in the United States. More than half the players have two caps or less for the national team, and five will be seeking their first appearance.
"This is a very important opportunity for these players," said Klinsmann. "They are the next in line behind the established players, and this is a chance to prove themselves."
The former Germany manager hopes that the January camp will allow many of his younger plays to learn his coaching philosphy.
"We will spend the next few weeks introducing them to our ideas on how we want to play and what it means to be a part of the national team. Ultimately, it will create more depth for us, which you need at this level. I'm very curious and excited to see this group," Klinsmann said.
GOALKEEPERS: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
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