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Jurgen Klinsmann names U.S. national soccer team squad for winter camp

Jurgen Klinsmann, pictured with U.S. squad in Washington last fall, will gather a young team in Carson, Calif., this weekend. (USSF photo)

The gang that reports to U.S. men’s national soccer team training camp each winter is never at full caliber because European- and Mexican-based players are busy with their respective clubs. So the gathering in Carson, Calif., is typically heavy on MLS candidates and prospects who otherwise would not receive first-team call-ups.

This year, Jurgen Klinsmann has taken the developmental theme a step further by leaving out many proven characters and inviting 11 players who are eligible for the under-23 squad’s Olympic qualifying campaign.

The initial group, announced Wednesday, includes 23 players. The average age is 24. Ten players are seeking their first cap. Camp opens Sunday.

Additional players may be added in the coming days. And Klinsmann might summon a few veterans — perhaps Clint Dempsey, Kyle Beckerman, Brad Evans, Graham Zusi, Chris Wondolowski or Brek Shea — ahead of the StubHub Center friendlies, Jan. 31 vs. Iceland and Feb. 5 vs. Canada.

“It will be more an identification camp. It will be more a developmental camp,” Klinsmann said. “We want to give those players a head start into their very busy year 2016, but we also want to make it clear to them that it’s a huge opportunity that you have here to understand what it takes to step it up and to become an international-level player.”

Nonetheless, in need of experienced guides, Klinsmann named five regulars: Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore and Mix Diskerud.

The youngest call-ups are New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga and FC Dallas defender Kellyn Acosta, both age 20.

Three members of the MLS Cup finalist Columbus Crew — Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani — made the list, as did midfielder Darlington Nagbe from the champion Portland Timbers. Nagbe made his U.S. debut in November.

The only foreign-based player is forward Jerome Kiesewetter, who is on winter break from Stuttgart II in the German third division. Former Stanford University forward Jordan Morris, who will sign a homegrown contract with the Seattle Sounders or head to Europe, was also included.

(Morris and Nagbe will arrive late to camp.)

Two goalkeepers were named to the initial list: D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and the New York Red Bulls’ Luis Robles, the past two MLS goalie of the year award winners. A third keeper is expected to join them at some point soon.

Klinsmann integrated U-23 players as part of preparations for the two-leg Olympic qualifying playoff against Colombia in March. The first leg is tentatively slated for March 25 in Barranquilla. The Americans will host the second leg March 29 at a venue to be announced soon — the same date as the World Cup qualifier against Guatemala in Columbus, Ohio.

Initial camp roster

GOALKEEPERS: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls).

DEFENDERS: Kellyn Acosta* (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Matt Miazga* (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller* (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker* (Vancouver Whitecaps), Marc Pelosi* (San Jose Earthquakes), Matt Polster* (Chicago Fire).

MIDFIELDERS: Fatai Alashe* (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew), Wil Trapp* (Columbus Crew).

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew), Jerome Kiesewetter* (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris* (unattached), Khiry Shelton* (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (L.A. Galaxy).

*eligible for under-23 squad