Four NASL Players Who Deserve USMNT Attention

With the January camp coming, here is a look at a handful of players deserving a look with the squad
Jack Bell (@JackBell} | Dec 21, 2015

Photo Credit: Minnesota United

At the start of 2016 – specifically on Jan. 4 – Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach of the United States men’s national team, will convene his annual January training camp at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

With mostly players whose leagues are out of season, the U.S. will begin preparations for what promises to be a busy and challenging year.

It all begins with two friendly matches – Iceland (Jan. 31), which has qualified for Euro ’16 in France, and regional rival Canada (Feb. 5). The schedule to date also includes the Olympic qualifying playoff for the U-23s, a home-and-home series with Colombia to be played in March; home-and-home World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala (March 25 and 29); Copa América Centenario in June; and then the final two games of the current round of World Cup qualifying, at St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Sept. 2) and against Trinidad and Tobago (Sept. 6).

Before Klinsmann takes his 30-odd players into camp, there is always speculation and discussion about his selections. So far during the Klinsmann Era, only one player from the North American Soccer League – Miguel Ibarra, who now plays in Mexico – has seen the field for the U.S. national team.

Here is a look at four NASL players who, by virtue of their strong seasons in 2015, deserve a shot at landing a spot playing for the red, white and blue:

Christian Ramirez – There are few, if any, American strikers anywhere in the world who have been as prolific scoring goals on a consistent basis the past two years than Minnesota United’s Christian Ramirez. The 24-year-old, a native of Santa Ana, Calif., rounded into top form in the Fall Season to earn his second straight Best XI selection. He scored 11 times – 12 total for the year – and added six assists. The 2014 Golden Boot winner earned one Player of the Month honor and was selected to the Team of the Week five times.

Walter Restrepo – Listed as a midfielder, Restrepo, 27, wreaked havoc on opposing defenses in 2015, helping the New York Cosmos to an unprecedented seventh NASL title while scoring three goals and adding five assists during the regular season. Restrepo was born in San Diego, but has deep roots to Colombia and has played professionally in his ancestral homeland. The Cosmos are the third NASL team (Fort Lauderdale and San Antonio are the others) for the speedy and skillful Restrepo.

Justin Davis – As the national team continues what seems like an eternal search for a left back capable of playing defense and speedy enough to get forward, Davis, 27, ticks all the boxes. Davis, who is from Litchfield Park, Ariz., was selected to the NASL’s Best XI for a second consecutive year. Davis started in 29 matches, scoring five goals and adding two assists from his fullback position for a Minnesota United club that got incredible production from its wing backs (Kevin Venegas was the other). Davis was named to the Team of the Week six times.

Danny Szetela – Szetela, 28, has been on the radar of the U.S. national team setup, as a youth and a senior international, since 2003. As a 17-year-old, he scored two goals for the American team at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Finland. His up-and-down professional career settled on an upward trajectory when the native of Clifton, N.J., signed with the Cosmos in July 2013 as the club was preparing for its reboot season in the NASL.  Since then, the midfielder has again found his game, and helped the Cosmos win the NASL’s 2015 Spring Season, finish first in the Combined Standings and take home the Soccer Bowl trophy after defeating Ottawa in The Championship Final. Big and strong, Szetela deserves another shot with the national team.


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