What MLSers learned in Europe 

January, 24, 2012

For more than a few MLS players at the U.S. January camp, Wednesday's match in Panama marks the end of an offseason that had very little down time.

In addition to three weeks of conditioning and auditioning for Jurgen Klinsmann this month, six players trained in Europe in November and/or December: attackers Juan Agudelo (Stuttgart, Liverpool) and Brek Shea (Arsenal); midfielders Kyle Beckerman (FC Kaiserslautern) and Jeff Larentowicz (Bolton); and young goalkeepers Bill Hamid (West Bromwich Albion) and Sean Johnson (Everton, Manchester United).

We've told you about Agudelo and Shea in earlier posts. But they weren't alone in taking away positives from their working vacations.

Johnson and Hamid, who earned his first cap and posted a clean sheet in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Venezuela, used the offseason trip not just as a seminar to help improve in MLS but as a gateway to future job openings, both at clubs abroad and on the national team.

"It was something I had planned from early in the season last year," Johnson says. "I planned to have a busy offseason whether it be the 23s and now the national team, and it's good to stay active."

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.