Chris Schuler won't be making his national team debut this January. Actually, maybe it's time to start wondering if the 27-year-old will ever make his national team debut.
After undergoing a surgery that saw him miss the January camp in 2014 — but did see him play more first-team minutes than he ever had for Real Salt Lake, largely because he managed to stay fit most of the season until he had his face broken by Nat Borchers' beard — Schuler's chances at a national team place have seemingly diminished.
That he was scheduled for a look in then spoke well of Schuler's national team outlook, but maybe turning down that call-up then while looking after his long-term career concerns did nothing for his relationship with US Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. That's speculation, obviously, but we're grasping at straws here.
Perhaps part of the reason Schuler missed out was because Klinsmann is clearly valuing an Olympic roster here. But while that might be true, the U-23 nature of the Olympic team doesn't explain everything about this roster.
Regardless, the January camp — which has historically been used to reward MLS players who don't typically get a look in to the United States roster — being transformed into an under-23 roster doesn't do much to ease our concerns.
Christian Dean, a 21-year-old center back for Vancouver Whitecaps who has played 123 minutes of first-team play, made the roster before Chris Schuler. Oscar Sorto, a 20-year-old right back who has played 15 minutes for LA Galaxy as a homegrown player, made the roster before Chris Schuler.
Perry Kitchen — universally regarded as a defensive midfielder, and a pretty good one — made the roster. We don't have qualms about that. But he's listed as a defender. Jermaine Jones, another defensive midfielder for everybody except the United States in the last six months, comes in as a defender — a center back.
Chris Schuler, a center back by trade, misses out.
I guess I can understand why prospects for the 2016 Olympics are being prepped for play. But if we're going to turn the January camp into a year-long run-up to win the Olympics, I'd contend we'll lose something more valuable in the long run. Maybe it's because we still have to qualify that we're taking this approach.
And yeah, maybe it's that Schuler requested to stay in Salt Lake City as he prepares for a new season with a new roster, or maybe it's because there's an injury concern we don't know about, or maybe he stepped on Klinsmann's small, "organic" and "free range" dog, or maybe the coach just thought his mask was a little frightening. If any of those things is the case, then we'll retract our rage. But we're ready for Chris Schuler to get a look.