Bruce Arena named his first U.S. MNT match day roster since 2006 on Friday, cutting his squad from the 32 players who participated in the team’s January camp to the 23 man group that will face Serbia, Sunday afternoon in San Diego.
The stakes won’t be quite as high for Arena and the U.S. on Sunday as they were in Germany almost 11 years ago, the Serbia match is after all a friendly unlike Arena’s final game at the U.S. MNT helm, a 2-1 loss to Ghana that ended the 2006 World Cup for the Americans.
A variety of injuries suffered by various players throughout the camp, which ran from January 10 until the 27, meant that Arena had only to deliver the bad news to five players on Friday morning.
The coach had not been looking forward to the delivering the news, telling reporters on Thursday, “they’re making the task of trimming this roster basically impossible.”
The biggest name in the quintet was Chris Wondolowski and it is not unreasonable to assume that the 34-year-old San Jose Earthquakes striker has donned the stars and stripes for the final time.
Of the other four healthy scratches, goalkeeper Brian Rowe came into camp as an injury replacement and was not expected to travel. That leaves Taylor Kemp, Keegan Rosenberry, and Wil Trapp, a trio of younger players who should see more opportunities going forward.
Arena was always going to go with the safer choices with the U.S. MNT languishing at the bottom of the Hex standings with a 0-2 record and a pair of crucial World Cup Qualifiers coming up in March.
Still, Rosenberry supporters will be disappointed that Arena chose novice fullback Graham Zusi over the young Philadelphia standout while Trapp’s omission will frustrate those who would like to see the Columbus midfielder given some playing time with the nats.
Gyasi Zardes was a late injury victim picking up a minor right knee contusion and joining Dallas duo Matt Hedges and Kellyn Acosta, goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Stefan Frei on the injured list while Kekuta Manneh headed back to Vancouver earlier in camp while awaiting final approval to play for the U.S. having recently acquired his U.S. passport.
With the U.S. facing Jamaica on February 3 in Chattanooga, Tennessee most of the 23 players on this roster figure to see the field over these two friendlies.
U.S. MNT schedule: Sunday, January 29. U.S. MNT vs Serbia at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California.
Tuesday, March 3. U.S. MNT vs Jamaica at Finley Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
World Cup Qualifiers
March 24, 2017 TBD MNT vs Honduras Home
March 28, 2017 TBD MNT vs Panama Away
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Greg Garza (Atlanta United FC), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union)
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)