Just two days after news broke that star U.S. MNT and Seattle Sounders striker Clint Dempsey will be out of action for an indeterminate period while he is evaluated for an irregular heartbeat, Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 26 man roster for a pair of September World Cup Qualifiers.
The Americans face off against CONCACAF minnows St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2 on the road (3:30 p.m. ET – beIN SPORT) before hosting Trinidad and Tobago four days later in Jacksonville, Florida for the team’s final Group C semifinal match against Trinidad & Tobago. (8 p.m. ET – FS1, UniMas)
A win over St Vincent and the Grenadines and a Trinidad and Tobago victory at home versus Guatemala would see the U.S. advance to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualification (The Hexagonal). If that scenario doesn’t play out then the Hex qualifiers will be decided during the September 6 WCQ fixtures.
With much at stake Klinsmann has essentially kept faith with the squad that brought the U.S to the semifinals of the Copa America, selecting 19 of the 23 players that represented the U.S. MNT in last summer’s tournament. The coach expressed confidence in the group saying in a U.S. Soccer statement, “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.”
The Americans depth will be tested at the forward position with Dempsey joined on the injured list by Los Angeles Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes. A revitalized Jozy Altidore and Bundesliga newcomer Bobby Wood, who scored in his Saturday debut for Hamburg, are good options up front for the U.S.
MLS veteran Chris Wondolowski and rookie Jordan Morris round out the forward group with Rubio Rubin, who plays in the Eredivisie for Utrecht.
Klinsmann has called in Jermaine Jones, although the Colorado Rapids midfielder has been out injured.
As always with any selection, there are a few surprises on this roster. Pachuca center back Omar Gonzalez is back after being passed over for the Copa, although fullbacks Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna) and Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest) continue to be passed over in the defense, this time for FC Dallas midfielder/defender Kellyn Acosta who has always appeared far more comfortable and effective in a midfield role.
Midfield surprises include Tijuana man Paul Arriola and Caleb Stanko, playing in Austria for FC Vaduz on loan from Bundesliga side SC Freiburg, while Perry Kitchen (Hearts of Midlothian) would have been a more likely choice.
Expect Klinsmann to go with something close to his Copa America lineup, although in truth any 11 he sends out versus St Vincent and the Grenadines should be expected to win and win and win handily. The Yanks topped St. V&G 6-1 in St. Louis last November and something similar should be expected from the favorites on Friday.
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC),Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
DEFENDERS (9) : Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City),Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City),Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
MIDFIELDERS (9) : 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)
FORWARDS (5) : Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)