February 25, 2024

LAFC midfielder Timothy Tillman is among 25 MLS players called up Friday for the U.S. national team’s first training camp of the new year, which will begin Monday in Orlando and end Jan. 20 with a friendly against Slovenia in San Antonio, Texas.

Tillman, who turned 25 on Friday, is one of 17 players who will be looking to make their first appearance for the U.S. Born in Germany to a U.S. serviceman father and a German mother, Tillman played in 20 games for Germany as a youth international before applying to FIFA for permission to represent the U.S. on the senior level. That one-time switch was granted last May. Tillman appeared in 25 regular-season games for LAFC last season, second-most among midfielders.

Tillman’s younger brother Malik has already made eight senior appearances for the U.S. If Timothy plays against Slovenia, he and Malik would become the 10th pair of brothers to play for the USMNT.

“This is an opportunity to identify and work with the next generation of players who have the potential to make an impact on our program,” coach Gregg Berhalter said of the young, inexperienced roster, which averages less than 24 years of age. “Our priority is on getting as many players as possible experience in important competitions and this camp and the match against Slovenia will be extremely valuable in the evaluation process.”

The annual January camp falls outside a FIFA international window, limiting the players the U.S. can summon from overseas. But it has proven useful in auditioning domestic-based players with 30 men, since 1999, earning their first or second caps as part of the January camp going on to make a World Cup roster. Nine players from the U.S. team in Qatar, including captain Tyler Adams and defender Walker Zimmerman, earned their first or second cap in a January camp.

Defender Shaq Moore is the only player on the January roster who also played in the 2022 World Cup, having made his last international appearance in the final group-stage match with Iran. Miles Robinson likely would have been in Qatar as well, but he torn his left Achilles tendon six months before the tournament. He will be back with the team this month and with 27 international caps is the most experienced player on the roster.

This winter’s camp kicks off a particularly busy and important year for the U.S. as it begins preparations for the 2026 World Cup, which will hosted jointly by the U.S., Mexico and Canada. In March, Berhalter’s team will defend its title in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League, in June it will play in Copa América, a 16-team tournament featuring reigning world champion Argentina, and in mid-summer the U.S. will send a men’s team to the Olympic Games for the first time since 2008.

Thirteen players called into next week’s camp are age-eligible for the Olympics, which is limited to U-23 players.

The U.S. will be playing Slovenia for the third time, but for the first time in the U.S. The USMNT played Slovenia to a draw in the 2010 World Cup, then beat the Europeans a year later in Ljubljana. The game will also mark the national team’s third visit to San Antonio and its first since a 2-0 win over Mexico at the Alamodome in 2015.

The roster

Goalkeepers: Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew)

Defenders: Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC), Ian Murphy (FC Cincinnati), Jackson Ragen (Seattle Sounders), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati), James Sands (New York City FC), Nkosi Tafari (FC Dallas), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United)

Midfielders: Joshua Atencio (Seattle Sounders), Aziel Jackson (St. Louis City), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Timothy Tillman (LAFC), Sean Zawadzki (Columbus Crew)

Forwards: Esmir Bajraktarevic (New England Revolution), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Bernard Kamungo (FC Dallas), Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake), Duncan McGuire (Orlando City), Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps)

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