American men face St. Vincent hoping to clinch advancement to CONCACAF final qualifying round.
By Robert Wagman
(Thursday, September 1, 2016) -- United States men’s coach Jürgen Klinsmann called up 26 players for the two World Cup qualifiers that will determine who will advance to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Tomorrow, the U.S. visits winless St. Vincent and the Grenadines at 3:30 p.m. (ET), a match that will be televised by beIN Sports.
On Tuesday, The Americans will host Trinidad and Tobago at 8 p.m. at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. It will be broadcast by Fox Sports 1 and Spanish-language Univision.
Trinidad leads Group 3 at 3-0-1 with 10 points, followed by the U.S. at 2-1-1 with seven points. Guatemala is next at 2-2-0 with six points, trailed by St. Vincent at 0-4-0 with no points. The top two teams from each of the three semifinal groups advance to the six-nation, 10-game final round.
Should the U.S. and Trinidad, which hosts Guatemala, win tomorrow, they would clinch the two spots from Group 3.
Most of the names on Klinsmann’s roster are familiar to Americans from this summer’s Copa America Centenario. There are seven players selected to the 26-man squad who did not participate in the Copa America. Included in the seven are several new faces, basically young players that Klinsmann wants to get some experience.
There are, however, a number of players who are missing from the 26 because of injury. Two key players who are missing are striker Clint Dempsey, who is being evaluated for an irregular heartbeat and winger Gyasi Zardes, who reportedly suffered a broken foot in the Los Angeles Galaxy’s last Major League Soccer game.
Central defender John Brooks, who was originally summoned, has developed a back problem. He has been replaced by veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who has not played for the national team since before the 2014 World Cup.
Also rejoining the U.S. roster is forward Jozy Altidore, who missed June’s Copa America with a hamstring strain and central defender Omar Gonzalez.
Among the younger players Klinsmann has included on the squad are 21-year-old defender Kellyn Acosta and 20-year-old striker Rubio Rubin, along with striker Jordan Morris, 21, and midfielder Christian Pulisic, 17.
Some newer names are defensive midfielder Caleb Stanko and winger Paul Arriola.
Even though there are many familiar names on the roster, Klinsmann is going to face some interesting problems naming a starting 11. To start, captain and midfielder Michael Bradley is suspended for the Friday match against St. Vincent, as is Michael Orozco for yellow-card accumulation.
Midfielder and defender Jermaine Jones is also on the team, but he has not played a match since injuring a knee on July 4. Klinsmann says Jones was included so the national staff could evaluate his fitness.
“We have a lot of attacking options for these two games," Klinsmann said in a Facebook Q&A on Monday.
There seems to be more than enough manpower for the game against St. Vincent, a team the U.S. dominated in a 6-1 victory in St. Louis in November, but unlikely player combinations might be used.
This game will be played at Arnos Vale Stadium, which provides unique challenges. The cricket oval seats 18,000 and, because the venue does not have lights, the match will be played in the mid-afternoon heat and humidity.
“Our message for players coming into this camp for the two World Cup qualifiers is very clear: approach it with a lot of urgency,” Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer’s web site. “It’s not easy to go into those Caribbean countries and get the results, so it’s not going to be easy in St. Vincent on a very difficult field with heat and whatever else to get the goals as quickly as possible. We’ve got to be patient, but we have to play with urgency and determination in our approach. That’s how we are going to go and prepare for that game.”
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough, England), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC, Norway), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids, Major League Soccer).
Defenders (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas, MLS), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United, MLS), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana, Mexico), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, England).
Midfielders (10): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana, Mexico), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake, MLS), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union, NLS), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC. MLS), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids, MLS), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls, MLS), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers, MLS), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz, Switzerland), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City, MLS).
Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC, MLS), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders, MLS), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht, Germany), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV, MLS).
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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