The new year has started nicely for Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper, who – to his surprise – was named to the U.S. national team’s 30-man roster for the annual January camp, which includes a Jan. 28 friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Carson, Calif.
U.S. goalkeeper coach Matt Reis, who played for the Revolution from 2003-15, scouted Cropper last season; Interim U.S. national team coach David Sarachan saw fit to include Cropper in the camp, along with Revolution teammates Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe.
“It was unexpected, but I had hoped that the call would come,” said Cropper in a phone interview. “Now I’m reading to get into camp and get the ball rolling.”
Cropper has spent much of the off-season in Minnesota, splitting his time training and visiting family. His training buddies include Colorado Rapids defender Eric Miller, plus Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra and forward Christian Ramirez, who was also included in camp.
Anton McElhone, the Revolution’s recently-hired Head of Fitness, provided players with an off-season fitness guide. Cropper is hoping his preparations for MLS preseason – which starts on Jan. 22 – will give him an advantage for his unexpected call-up to the national team camp.
Sarachan also called goalkeepers Bill Hamid (Midtjylland), Alex Bono (Toronto), and Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew). Hamid, who has four international appearances with the U.S., is the most-likely of the quartet to secure a start against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Cropper, like Bono and Steffen, has yet to appear in a senior national team match.
That said, Cropper is rightly taking this chance seriously and wants to prove he belongs in future camps.
“I just want to go into this camp focused,” Cropper said. “I want to make a good impression because it’s a huge opportunity. I’m just excited to work hard every day, to learn from Bill, Bono, and Zack Steffen, and of course Matt Reis.”
“It’s good to be back in the national team pool,” added Cropper, who played extensively for the U.S. U-20 and U-23 national teams. “There’s always an opportunity, sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
“I don’t think there’s a bigger honor than representing your country. It’s not handed to you, so I just want to go in and work hard. It would be a huge honor to earn my first cap.”
Cropper will travel directly to Bradenton, Fla. once USMNT camp concludes on Jan. 29. and link up with the Revolution for preseason.
The Revolution play their first preseason game on Jan. 31 against an opponent yet to be determined. They will also face Swedish club Malmo (Feb. 3) and USL powerhouse FC Cincinatti (Feb. 6) before briefly returning to Foxborough. The second leg of preseason moves to Tucson, Ariz. from Feb. 11 to 24.
The club will work to get in shape and come together as a group. That will be especially critical as new Revolution coach Brad Friedel gets to know his team and imparts his tactical vision.
As a former national team goalkeeper, Friedel will likely have strong feelings about the Revolution’s future at the position. It’s a clean slate for Cropper, plus back-ups Brad Knighton and Matt Turner.
“I think all three of us will learn a lot,” said Cropper of the goalkeeping situation under Friedel. “But he’s head coach and he has a lot on his plate with 25 other players to worry about besides just us three. I know we’ll also work close with [goalkeeper coach]Ruben Garcia.
“I just want to continue to play. I’m going into preseason with the hope that this team be as good as we know we can be. Our new coach wants that for us as well.”
Email Julian at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @juliancardillo