Jurgen Klinsmann named 24 players for the roster that will take on Honduras Wednesday afternoon in Honduras. Jose Torres is back, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez both make the roster, and Timmy Chandler seems fully committed to the U.S. If he appears for the U.S. in a competitive match, he will be unable to play for Germany, which will probably figure with Steve Cherundolo unavailable.
With sunny Miami, Florida serving as a suitable stand-in for Honduras, the select 24 gathered at Florida International University, for their lone practice before taking off for Central America this evening. With players jetting in from all over Europe, Mexico and the United States, the practice had the air of a re-union, before settling into a fairly spirited training session.
All but three of the roster were on the FIU pitch, although striker Herculez Gomez worked out on his own, as he recovered from yesterday’s game with Santos. The missing three were all European based and their absence was not unexpected. Clint Dempsey, Sacha Kljestan and Timmy Chandler were the late arrivals. All are expected to be available, although there are still some U.S. supporters who will need to see Chandler on the field, in a U.S. jersey, before they believe it.
Wednesday’s game will be played at 4:00 o’clock Eastern time, or 3:00 local time. With forecasts calling for temperatures in the mid 80’s and humidity an issue, the afternoon start could be a problem for both teams.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is not underrating his opponents, describing Honduras as “a very technical team, and also physical.” Klinsmann feels that Honduras, “grew over the last couple of years.” “They have a lot more confidence,” Klinsmann says. “Going to a World Cup gives you confidence, it’s definitely a team you have to respect.”
Although the U.S. attack was unimpressive at times in the semifinal qualifying round, striker Herculez Gomez believes the talent is there. “I think if you look, individually, on paper, at every one of our attackers you’ve got a wealth of riches.” Gomez feels that the group is, “still jelling.”
Michael Bradley responded to a question about playing without Landon Donovan by saying, “it’s not that strange.” The longtime face of U.S. soccer has been out of the national team picture for most of Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure and while Bradley sounded supportive, he was also practical. “Life goes on here, we’re excited about the guys that are here, we’re confident in the group we have and,” Bradley summed up, “that’s life, that’s soccer.”
In Honduras, the two; life and soccer; are intertwined to the point that Wednesday has been declared a defacto national holiday. The U.S. players are aware of the importance of the matches and the environment that they are headed into. Bradley, the young veteran who has seen just about everything in his career is under no illusions going into the Hex. “These 10 games,” Bradley says, “are the games that are going to push you to the limit.” Bradley explains further, “you have to the mentality that you are going to step on the field 10 different times and do your best to put your 10 best games out there.”
If the United States can reach that standard, Brazil 2014 should be their reward. Starting Wednesday in San Pedro Sula, they get their chance.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa – 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton – 22/9 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire – 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9) : Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander – 31/5), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City – 5/0), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana – 0/0), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg – 0/0), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders – 0/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 0/0), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim – 3/0), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg – 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Michael Bradley (Roma – 19/5), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo – 0/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor – 9/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 – 5/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht – 12/0), Jose Torres (Tigres – 9/0), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim – 4/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City – 3/0)
FORWARDS (4 ): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar – 17/6), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur – 26/10), Herculez Gomez (Santos – 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders – 11/10)