Crew fans are well aware of the amount of quality young players possessed by the MLS Cup champions. So, when the U.S. Men’s National Team decided to go with younger players for their upcoming friendly with Slovenia on January 20th, it is no surprise the Crew is well represented on the training camp roster.
But There Is A Surprise
It isn’t surprising that goalkeeper Patrick Schulte and midfielder Aidan Morris were chosen. Both have performed well for the U.S. Olympic team and are predicted to make the final roster for the competition this summer in Paris. The surprise comes in seeing Sean Zawadzki included in the list of invitees. Schulte and Morris are bona fide stars, but Zawadzki is more of a role player. But don’t misinterpret describing him as a role player to mean he isn’t deserving of this honor.
Is it Zawadzki’s versatility that caught the eye of USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter? The 23-year-old Ohioan is listed on the camp roster as a midfielder, but Crew fans know he is capable of playing many positions. When help was needed on the Crew defense, Wilfried Nancy turned to Zawadzki and used him to anchor the middle of the back line. He started games at left center back, wingback, and in the center of midfield. He’s one of those guys whose contributions to his team can’t be measured in stats.
The Kids Are Alright
So, why the youth movement? This match with Slovenia falls outside of a FIFA international window, so many of the players we’re used to seeing on the USMNT are unavailable. The 25 camp invitees all play for MLS clubs-14 are eligible for the Olympic team. The Olympics are a U23 tournament, so that will tell you how young this group is. Head coach Gregg Berhalter explains the reason behind the roster choices,
"This is an opportunity to identify and work with the next generation of players to make an impact on our program."
Will The Crew Make An Impact?
My hope is all three Crew players will have an impact on the match with Slovenia, but I’m not convinced that will happen. I fully expect Aidan Morris to see some action and won’t be surprised if he starts the match. I won’t be surprised at all to see Schulte dress, but I’m not convinced he’ll play. Zawadzki is the one I’m not certain will be included on the 20-man roster for the game. Regardless of what happens, all three have caught the eye of some important people in international soccer.
The camp begins today in Orlando and runs through January 16th. From there, the team will go to San Antonio for the match against Slovenia at 3 p.m. Eastern Time at Toyota Field on January 20th.