U.S. squad's new guys: What you need to know about Ramirez, Glad, Canouse
The United States men's national team kicks off its 2018 campaign with a match against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday (9:30 p.m. ET). Interim head coach Dave Sarachan brought a young, inexperienced group into January camp, including 10 players who are getting their first senior team call.
To help you get to know this new crew, we gathered notes about who they are and talked to a few experts and former professionals about where these players might fit into the American player pool.
Danny Acosta, DF, Real Salt Lake
Who he is: The Real Salt Lake homegrown player moved to the U.S. from his native Honduras when he was 12, eventually joining Justen Glad, Sebastian Saucedo and Brooks Lennon in the club's academy. He made 17 appearances for RSL in 2017, locking down the left-back role and standing up to Clint Dempsey in the process.
An expert's take: "The thing that has everyone talking about Danny right now is his moment talking trash to Dempsey. It always feels like in big games, the U.S. team clams up a bit, so it's nice to see a kid with some swag who clearly isn't scared of anyone. His soccer ability? Who knows at this point? But left-back is still a weakness in the player pool, and Acosta will get a chance to play 30 games this year, which puts anyone in contention."
Russell Canouse, MF, D.C. United
Who he is: The holding midfielder left the U.S. for Germany in 2011, joining Hoffenheim's youth program. He made a single appearance in the Bundesliga before returning to the States in August and joining D.C. United, with which he was an immediate and effective starter. Canouse has leadership ability, captaining the American team at the 2015 CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica before missing the age-group World Cup due to injury.
An expert's take: "The U.S. player pool has few really good, dedicated No. 6 defensive midfielders, especially with the defection of Jonathan Gonzalez. Canouse had some strong games in 2017 and also some weak games. He needs a good 2018."
Marky Delgado, MF, Toronto FC
Who he is: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez are bigger names, but Delgado -- a former Chivas USA Youth Academy product who was taken with the 14th pick in the 2014 MLS Dispersal Draft -- makes Toronto FC tick in the midfield. He's a tenacious tackler and an intuitive passer who has made 48 starts the past two seasons. He started all five matches when the U.S. U-20s reached the quarterfinals at the 2015 World Cup.
An expert's take: "Delgado is a player who makes the plays you need to win games. He's been surrounded by special talent at Toronto, which has helped him thrive, and will need to show that he's exceptional in a few areas to climb up the box-to-box midfielder rankings."
Justen Glad, DF, Real Salt Lake
Who he is: RSL's solid center-back made 27 starts in 2016, earning the team's Defensive Player of the Year honors, and 18 last season after an early season knee injury robbed him of three months. He's mature beyond his years, though he needs to continue improving if he is to capitalize on his immense promise.
An expert's take: "One of the most promising newcomers, if not the most promising, on the January roster. He is a mature player for his age and has a very nice upside as a central defender. If Glad plays well and outshines others in this camp like [Walker] Zimmerman and [Tim] Parker, he could see himself high up the depth chart."
Marlon Hairston, DF/MF, Colorado Rapids
Who he is: The lightning-quick man from Mississippi finally found a home at right-back, playing more than 2,600 minutes for the Colorado Rapids in 2017 as a wing-back and wide midfielder. He has been on the fringes of the U.S. system, making a single appearance for the U-23 squad in 2014.
An expert's take: "An athletic, energetic attacker who never looked good enough on the ball to make an impact as a forward or winger, it looks like he will get his chance to play wing-back this year in Colorado. With the exception of DeAndre Yedlin, both outside-back spots look up for grabs, so while Hairston has a ton of ground to make up, it's not impossible."
Ian Harkes, MF, D.C. United
Who he is: The son of U.S. legend John Harkes, the No. 8 went from winning the Hermann Trophy with Wake Forest to starting in D.C. United's midfield in a single year. He was the team's most accurate passer and completed nearly one key pass per game, both indications that he has the vision and ability to succeed in international competition.
An expert's take: "Had an up-and-down rookie year with D.C. Along with Canouse, Harkes will have to show his worth at the club level before we really know what he is at the international level."
Brooks Lennon, FW, Real Salt Lake
Who he is: Lennon left RSL's academy in 2015 to join Liverpool but didn't make any appearances for the English club before returning Stateside, first on loan and then permanently in December. The pacey attacker scored three goals and posted four assists in 1,525 MLS minutes in 2017, looking lively and nearly leading the Claret and Cobalt to an unlikely postseason trip.
An expert's take: "He's a one-on-one guy, which we don't have many of in the player pool right now. He's happy to get the ball wide and run at the outside-back. He also has the acceleration to beat most defenders. He doesn't have the games to say whether he's fully good enough yet, but anyone with his kind of acceleration has a chance."
Nick Lima, DF, San Jose Earthquakes
Who he is: The Homegrown San Jose Earthquake started at right-back for an injured Marvell Wynne in Week One, earning MLS Team of the Week honors, and he didn't look out of place in his rookie year. An injury derailed his campaign, as he started a single match after Aug. 12, but Lima showed more than enough to prove that he belongs.
An expert's take: "Looked solid in limited minutes with San Jose. He has the athleticism and technical ability you want, but his defensive instincts leave a lot to be desired."
Ike Opara, DF, Sporting Kansas City
Who he is: Were it not for a series of unfortunate injuries, the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year would have been called into a camp well before his 29th year. The No. 3 overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft finally stayed healthy, starting 30 games at center-back for Sporting Kansas City and playing 90 minutes in every one.
An expert's take: "Ike's a somewhat dying breed of a pure defender. He's an incredible athlete, able to run and jump with anyone, but he also thinks of the game in a defend-first manner, which in itself is a differentiating factor for defenders these days. He might not have the passing ability or comfort on the ball for the international stage, but that depends on the coach's preferences."
Christian Ramirez, FW, Minnesota United
Who he is: The former NASL star stayed with Minnesota United when the team joined MLS, tallying 14 goals in 30 games. He's an elegant finisher who has found the net at a clip well above a goal every two games during his professional career.
An expert's take: "Most of his game is based on poaching in the box, and there's always a place on a roster for a guy who can finish chances. Goal scoring is generally form-based, so it's tough to say what the future holds, but he has the ability to score goals, which means he can always be in the conversation."
Noah Davis is a Brooklyn-based correspondent for ESPN FC and deputy editor at American Soccer Now. Twitter: @Noahedavis.