U.S. Men's National Team
Omar, Jozy, and Jordan Return to U.S. Squad in Sept.
August 28, 2016
JURGEN KLINSMANN today announced the United States national team roster that will take on St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago in a pair of World Cup qualifiers. The roster contains many familiar faces from the 2016 Copa America Centenario as well as a few youngsters who have been part of the team in the past.
The United States will be heavily favored on its road game September 2 against St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as its home game in Jacksonville on September 6 against Trinidad & Tobago. That game will conclude Group C action of the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying.
The Yanks sit in second place in the group behind Trinidad & Tobago and one point ahead of Guatemala. Two wins would guarantee a spot in the 2017 Hexagonal final round of qualifying but a win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines and a Trinidad & Tobago win over Guatemala that day would see the U.S. team advance before the final game against Trinidad & Tobago. Here is the roster.
Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)
There is a heavy presence from the Copa America team on this roster, with an ailing Clint Dempsey and injured Gyasi Zardes (both were on the original roster) being the most noticeable omissions.
“We definitely think that the group that got fourth in the Copa America deserves a certain priority going on to the next World Cup qualifiers because they did tremendously well in the Copa America,” Klinsmann said. “It was an exciting tournament with great games. The whole group learned a lot, playing teams like Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina. This is a big stage, and they deserve to come back and confirm what they did in the tournament in these upcoming, very important World Cup qualifiers.
"We are preparing for these two games very seriously, with a lot of urgency because we want to finish off our group in first place if possible, and this group of players gets the chance to do that.”
It certainly is a boost for older players like Graham Zusi and Chris Wondolowski to remain on the team. While neither performed particularly well at the Copa America, Klinsmann values experience and leadership in important games and World Cup qualifiers, even against minnows, can be tricky. For fans hoping to see some new names, I would expect that these veterans could be tested or pushed in the October and November friendlies, as well as January camp.
A few Newcomers make team
The big additions of newcomers to the team are mostly young players who have spent at least a little bit of time with the team in the past.
“It also gives us a chance during a couple of days to work with a couple extra guys—younger guys—that we’ve had an eye on [for] quite a while, like Caleb Stanko or Rubio Rubin,” Klinsmann said. “They are players that are knocking at the door and are doing well in their club environment, so that’s nice to see them.”
Paul Arriola made a very strong debut in May in the win over Puerto Rico where he picked up a goal and an assist. His inclusion was coming.
Klinsmann has expressed interest in Rubin dating back to 2014 but an ankle injury for most of the 2015-16 season kept him out of the team. Now that he is back to playing for FC Utrecht, Klinsmann will want to see firsthand how Rubin still fits in with this team.
The inclusion of Stanko is interesting given that the Michigan native struggled to see the field last season for FC Freiburg. He received a U.S. callup for the Puerto Rico match in May but did not see the field. Stanko is now on loan with FC Vaduz in the Swiss Super League. He has played his first few weeks with the club although was pulled at halftime in Saturday’s loss.
Finally, Kellyn Acosta remains high on Klinsmann’s list but the FC Dallas homegrown product is listed as a defender despite featuring exclusively now as a box-to-box midfielder in U.S. training camp in January. Will that affect Klinsmann’s decision as to where to play him?
Altidore & Wood arrive in fine form
Given Dempsey's health issues, others will be asked to deliver on the goal-scoring front. Fortunately, Klinsmann has several options.
Jozy Altidore is playing his best soccer since 2013 and is healthy—for the moment. Also, Bobby Wood had a good Copa America and carried his over his success from the 2.Bundesliga to the top flight when he scored an impressive goal for Hamburg SV in its Bundesliga opener vs. Ingolstadt.
“What makes us optimistic going into these qualifiers is watching our strikers scoring goals," Klinsmann said. "Clint Dempsey has been back scoring and we wanted to have him here, but of course his health comes first. We’re thinking of Clint and hoping that he will be OK. With our other forwards, Jozy is back scoring. Jordan Morris is doing really well.
"Then we’ve had the European-based players Bobby Wood and Rubio Rubin starting their season right now. It looks good. Wondolowski is scoring as well.”
Reading’s Danny Williams, Eintracht Frankfurt’s Timothy Chandler, and Ingolstadt’s Alfredo Morales all failed to make this roster despite playing this past weekend. The three German-Americans have had rough stretches with the U.S. team in recent years but are still likely on the radar and could move back to the inside of the team should Klinsmann not be satisfied with the current group.
Among youngsters, Lynden Gooch is starting for Sunderland in the Premier League and Cameron Carter-Vickers is rising through the system at Tottenham quickly. Emerson Hyndman, now with Bournemouth, is recovering from an injury that kept him out of preseason and Premier League minutes could see his fortunes change.
Aron Johannsson could also find his way back into the team as he started Werder Bremen’s season opener. Johannsson has battled various injuries over the years and nerve problem in his hip kept him out most of the 2015-16 season. He is still returning to fitness but if he can score goals for Werder, he will likely earn another look.
What do you think of the roster? Who should have been added? Who doesn't belong here? Share your take in the Comments section below.