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Union add defender; 3 called up to U.S. team's camp

On a day when the Union had three players called up to the U.S. national team's training camp, the team also announced the signing of left back Giliano Wijnaldum as a discovery signing.

On a day when the Union had three players called up to the U.S. national team's training camp, the team also announced the signing of left back Giliano Wijnaldum as a discovery signing.

Defender Keegan Rosenberry and midfielders Chris Pontius and Alejandro Bedoya are among 32 players who have been called to the U.S. camp under coach Bruce Arena.

The camp begins Jan. 10 in at the national team's training center in Carson, Calif. The United States will prepare for two friendlies - Jan. 29 against Serbia in San Diego and Feb. 3 against Jamaica in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Since the camp does not fall during a recognized FIFA international window for the release of players, only those who are not in season are available to be selected.

As for Wijnaldum, each Major League Soccer team has a discovery list of up to seven players who are not under contract to MLS and are not subject to another assignment method (such as the SuperDraft or allocation process).

Wijnaldum, 24 has competed for three Dutch clubs, including AZ Alkmaar, where he played under Union sporting director Earnie Stewart.

"This is a dream come true," the Rotterdam native said Thursday during a conference call.

Wijnaldum will occupy the Union's sixth international roster spot. This season they will have seven because a previous trade, and in 2018 they will own the maximum eight.

Even though Fabinho (who doesn't occupy an international slot) started 29 games last year at left back, the Union are not bringing in the 5-foot-11, 168-pound Wijnaldum to simply add depth. "He didn't come here just to sit on the bench," Stewart said in the same conference call.

Wijnaldum is capable of playing left center back, but he was brought to the Union to play on the outside. "He has a lot of speed and physical ability and can be good in the air and likes running up and down the line," Stewart said.

Bedoya, 29, has 55 caps and has been a recent national team mainstay. Pontius, 29, has been called up by the U.S. team in the past but has never received a cap. Rosenberry, 23, is being called up for the first time after starting all 34 games as a rookie and earning an MLS all-star berth.

Coach Jim Curtin said the time they spend with the national team will benefit the Union.

"I learned that when guys come back from the national team, it raises the level of a team's training session," Curtin said.

Stewart said the Union will report to camp Jan. 23 to begin training for their eighth MLS season and will leave for training Jan. 31 in Clearwater, Fla. The season opens March 5 in Vancouver.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard