In advance of the United States Men's National Team match against Panama tonight, I spent some time thinking about which current Minnesota United players have the best shot at a future call-up. Some are more realistic than others, but here are my thoughts on three American Loons’ chances:
Brent Kallman, CB
Of all the players I’ll discuss, I’d like to see Kallman get a cap the most. He is a Minnesota product who was a carryover from NASL and he is also a fan favorite. Kallman has earned a spot in Adrian Heath’s starting lineup and has not looked out of his depth in MLS.
It’s one thing to deserve a spot on a national team, but it’s quite another to find an opening. Central defense isn’t the United States’ strongest point, but it isn’t a weak spot either. Injuries and inconsistent play often plague the likes of Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, and Matt Besler. Behind them is a fairly deep pool with Steve Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez, plus a few others.
Where does Kallman fit in with this mix? He probably isn’t even on Bruce Arena’s radar yet. It would take some spectacular performances and likely a move from Minnesota’s 4.5 goals-per-game to bring attention to his ability.
Miguel Ibarra, MF
Ibarra has already picked up three caps and was a consistent call-up to the Stars and Stripes between 2014 and 2015. He then moved to Club Leon in Liga MX where playing time was sparse. He has since returned to MNUFC, fighting his way into Minnesota’s crowded attack.
The area where the USMNT is looking the strongest is precisely the area where Ibarra would fit in: attacking midfield. With Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, and Clint Dempsey as parts of the attack, a spot doesn’t look likely to open up soon.
Though Miguel Ibarra has been capped before, the new generation of American attacking midfielders will likely keep him out of a return to the national team.
Christian Ramirez, F
One cannot debate the chances of a Batman call-up without discussing Superman’s chances. Ramirez has never been brought into the USMNT, despite being one of the most prolific scorers in NASL. He has already snagged two goals from four appearances in MLS, showing that the transition may prove to be good for CR21.
Yet again, Ramirez’ spot in the national team is already occupied. Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, and Bobby Wood are the current forwards for the Stars and Stripes. Wood and Morris are both young enough to have futures in Bruce Arena’s lineup, while Altidore has been a consistent scorer for years.
If injuries became a drastic issue, the possibility of Superman getting a cap(e?) isn’t too far out there. A couple of strong MLS campaigns could bring him to a level near that of Chris Wondolowski.
Kevin Molino, Francisco Calvo, and Johan Venegas were all starters for their countries over the weekend (Rasmus Schuller did not appear for Finland), meaning that Minnesota United’s struggles haven’t deterred national team managers. The American team has young potential in key roles that will likely keep current Loons out of Arena’s squad, but a breakout campaign alongside injuries could allow an MNUFC player to slide in and nab a cap.
What do you think of these players' chances for a USMNT call-up? Is there anyone else you believe has a shot? Let us know in the comments section!