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Union's Rosenberry, Pontius and Bedoya get U.S. national team callups

Three Union players will be part of the U.S. men's national team's squad at the annual January training camp: defender Keegan Rosenberry and midfielders Chris Pontius and Alejandro Bedoya.

Three Union players will be part of the U.S. men's national team's squad at the annual January training camp: defender Keegan Rosenberry and midfielders Chris Pontius and Alejandro Bedoya.

It will be the first national team camp under new head coach Bruce Arena, who replaced the fired Jurgen Klinsmann in November. Arena is expected to helm the ship through the 2018 World Cup.

Arena tipped his hand on calling up Rosenberry and Pontius in a Facebook Q&A with fans last month. The official announcement came Thursday afternoon.

Bedoya is the biggest Union name on the U.S. squad, but not the biggest headline. That honor belongs to Rosenberry, who has been rightly rewarded for his outstanding debut season as a pro.

The 23-year-old right back from outside Harrisburg played every minute of every regular season game in 2016. He won some impressive one-on-one battles with top Major League Soccer attackers like Los Angles' Giovani dos Santos and Montreal's Ignacio Piatti.

Rosenberry's success is a feather in the cap for a Union organization that emphasizes developing young players. When Jim Curtin told me last month that he wants the Union to be known for producing U.S. national team prospects, Rosenberry counted as one of the first examples.

If Rosenberry can carry his league form to the international level, he could have a long career with the U.S. squad. There can never be too many good defenders on a national team, and that's especially true of outside backs.

Union sporting director Earnie Stewart is among those who believe Rosenberry is ready to make the step up.

"I think it's fantastic, the progression that he has had this whole season," Stewart said. "It kind of embodies what we're trying to do here at the Philadelphia Union, giving young players a chance. All of a sudden, you see those young players can perform at a very great level."

I asked Stewart if he had any advice for Rosenberry.

"I'm not the one to give advice on how he should handle himself," Stewart said. "Keegan is a very, very intelligent young guy, and because of that he is where he is right now. The only advice I can give is to really enjoy this first moment, and just give his best effort - and his best effort is very good. This is going to be his first camp, but I'm pretty sure it is not going to be his last camp."

Pontius, 29, will be with the national team for the third time - though the first since 2011. His camp debut came in 2010. On both occasions, he only trained with the squad and did not play in a game.

Bedoya, meanwhile, is no stranger to the national team. He has been a stalwart since making his international debut in 2010, with 55 caps and a slew of strong performances on his résumé.

The January camp squad has a total of 32 players. Here's the roster:

Goalkeepers (5): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)

Defenders (10): DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Taylor Kemp (D.C. United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders (12): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (Unattached), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (Los Angeles Galaxy), Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)

Forwards (5): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

The players will convene next Tuesday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Camp will conclude with two friendlies, against Serbia in San Diego on Jan. 29 and Jamaica in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Feb. 3.

Some notes on notable names:

- Frei backstopped Seattle's MLS Cup title run, including some breathtaking saves in the final at Toronto. Though he has played his entire career in the U.S., including college, the 30-year-old is Swiss by birth and made one appearance for that nation's under-15 national team. He hasn't played at the international level since, but still must finish some paperwork in order to play for the U.S. team.

- Kemp is the most surprising name on a list that is mostly unsurprising.

- No matter how many times Beasley tries to retire from the national team, he keeps coming back (and the program keeps asking him to). In that December Facebook Q&A, Arena said: "We have a shortage at left back. DaMarcus, still at his age, he's still a reliable, steady left back. We need to look at him and see where he is right now and still consider him as an option on our depth chart."

- Zusi's inclusion is no surprise, but his being listed as a defender is. The implication is that Arena will test him at right back. Rosenberry is the only true right back on the roster. Evans has also played the position.

- Feilhaber has been in exile from the national team since January of 2014. There have been endless rumors since that he and Klinsmann didn't quite get along. Feilhaber is 31 now, which might not leave much time for significant contributions. But he's at least getting a shot from Arena to show what he has left.

- Jones is listed as unattached, but agreed to a MLS contract that would see him move to the Galaxy if he decides to continue playing in the league.

- Manneh will be in a particular spotlight. The spectacularly speedy Whitecaps winger only just became a U.S. citizen, and like Frei, has some paperwork to finish before he can play for the national team. But he wanted to do so for a while now - so much, in fact, that he lives in Point Roberts, Wash. and commutes across the border for practices and games.

(That is less of a hassle than it seems at first glance. Point Roberts is U.S. territory on the southern tip of suburban Vancouver's Tsawassen peninsula. It is not attached to the continguous United States. To go south, one must first drive north around a large bay, then down the Canadian highway that becomes U.S. Interstate 5 at the border.)

- Nagbe was temporarily cast out of the national team picture after declining a callup in November because he wasn't pleased with Klinsmann not playing him. He's back now, and we'll see how Arena uses him.

- Agudelo has played for the national team just six times since 2011, when he made 14 appearances and was anointed as a star in the making. As with so many hyped players before and since, he never got there. But believe it or not, he's still just 24 years old. There's still time for him to find his scoring form again.

- It would be unfair to Wondolowski to say he's just there to make up the numbers, since all the players on the roster are from MLS. But his place on the national team's striker depth chart is pretty clear by now.

- There are a few notable absences, including two are from the Seattle Sounders. One is versatile 21-year-old midfielder Cristian Roldan, who locked down a starting spot during the Sounders' title run. Arena said Thursday afternoon that Roldan isn't out of the picture and could get a look at this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The second is Clint Dempsey, who has been off the field almost entirely since being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in September. He returned to individual training in December, making a public appearance during the Sounders' practice sessions before the MLS Cup final. Arena said Dempsey should be ready to play by March, and could be on the national team roster for that month's crucial World Cup qualifers against Honduras and Panama.

The third is New England's Lee Nguyen, who went in and out of favor with Klinsmann but performed well at times. Arena said the door is still open for Nguyen to be a part of his squads.

The Twitter handle above is for my general news reporting. My soccer handle is @thegoalkeeper. Contact me there for any questions about this post.