After a successful performance for the U.S. national team last November, Union striker C.J. Sapong is getting another audition.
A source with direct knowledge confirmed to the Inquirer and Daily News on Sunday night that Sapong is headed to the U.S. national team’s January training camp, which will run from Jan. 11-28 in Carson, Calif. The Americans will play Bosnia & Herzegovina at the StubHub Center in Carson on the 28th (9:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1 and UniMás).
The camp is traditionally for domestic players who’ve shown they deserve a shot at a higher level. That’s the case again this time, as only two of the 30 players summoned ply their trades abroad.
Here’s the full roster:
Goalkeepers (4): Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland, Denmark), Cody Cropper (New England Revolution), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
Defenders (9): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles FC)
Midfielders (11): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids), Ian Harkes (D.C. United), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders, Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Forwards (6): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United), Rubio Rubin (unattached), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union)
The squad includes two players with local roots: Steffen is from Coatesville (and once played for Union youth teams), and Canouse is from Lancaster.
Sapong was called up to the national team in November for a friendly at Portugal, the program’s first game since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. It was the 27-year-old’s first call-up since 2012, and was a reward for a 16-goal season with the Union. He was picked as a starter by interim coach Dave Sarachan, and won praise for a 77-minute effort in the 1-1 tie that included an assist on the U.S. goal.
Sarachan will oversee the winter camp as well. A new full-time head coach won’t be hired until after the Feb. 10 U.S. Soccer Federation presidential election.
But Sarachan’s assistants will be different than they were in November, and the Union are part of why. Pat Noonan has left the national team’s coaching staff after just over a year to join Jim Curtin’s bench at Talen Energy Stadium. He will fill the role opened by Mike Sorber’s departure to Los Angeles FC.
Noonan’s move has been in the works for a while; it was first made public by the Washington Post on Sunday night.
In his playing career, the Missouri-born Indiana University product had stops at five MLS clubs: New England (2003-07), Columbus (2008-09), Colorado (2009), Seattle (2010-11) and the L.A. Galaxy (2012). He also spent just over eight months with Norwegian club Aalesunds FK.
While with the Sounders, Noonan scored the first ever goal at Talen Energy Stadium, then known as PPL Park:
(Thanks to the astute reader who pointed that out on Twitter.)
Noonan never played with Union manager Jim Curtin or technical director Chris Albright (or sporting director Earnie Stewart during his brief tenure with D.C. United), but he played against them many times, and certainly knows them well.
After ending his playing career, Noonan joined Bruce Arena’s coaching staff at the Galaxy. When Arena left the club to replace Jurgen Klinsmann, he brought Noonan along.
The Union will also soon announce the hiring of a new goalkeeper coach, a source confirmed. That deal isn’t finalized yet, but should be soon. Oka Nikolov’s contract expired at the end of the 2017 season, and he moved to the Galaxy.