USMNT Releases Roster for Next Round of World Cup Qualifiers

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From Last Word on Soccer, by Joe Hojnacki

Bruce arena has released the names of the 24 players that will fight for the USA’s first win in the final round of World Cup Qualifying. Arena’s first competitive roster features a lot of familiar names, including Tim Howard making his return to the squad. Foreign based regulars like Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, and Christian Pulisic will make their first appearances for the new boss. Players long forgotten by the National Team show up there too. Omar Gonzalez, DaMarcus Beasley, and Tim Ream all return.

USMNT Releases Roster for Next Round of World Cup Qualifiers

Here is the full roster broken down by position.

Goalkeepers

Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Tim Howard has been out of the side since he was injured in the Mexico game. He makes his return after quickly getting up to speed with the Colorado Rapids. He should start at least one, if not both, of next weekend’s matches. Brad Guzan has been riding the bench at Boro and won’t see significant playing time until he moves stateside with Atlanta United.

Defenders

John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)

DaMarcus Beasley was thought to be retired from the national team before he made his return during January Camp. He now gets another shot competitively as an option at left back. The younger Jorge Villafana is there as well and I, personally, would rather see him finally get a shot at a competitive match. He is yet to be cap tied the national team and could be a solid long term option in that spot that Jurgen Klinsmann consistently neglected.

Also returning to the fold is Tim Ream, who was a semi-regular after the 2014 World Cup. He hasn’t played with the national team in nearly a year. Omar Gonzalez is also back. He was a defensive stalwart in the early and middle portion of the Klinsmann era, but had been cast aside since moving to Santos Laguna from LA Galaxy.

The starting center backs will more than likely be John Brooks and Geoff Cameron, who have been the best pairing for the USA in recent months and years. Gonzalez could factor in at least one of the matches, however.

Midfielders

Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union). Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

There are some surprises here. Arena has long been a fan of Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan and neither of them are on this team. Instead, we see a more defensive option in Dax McCarty. He hasn’t played a competitive match for the USMNT since 2011, before the Klinsmann era began. Sebastian Lletget is also making his first appearance on a competitive team after impressing in January.

The regular cast highlights the rest of the midfield. Michael Bradley will serve as captain. Fabian Johnson will finally be allowed to play his natural position thanks to a proper left back or two in the team. Christian Pulisic will get he chance to carry his red hot Bundesliga form into the USMNT. Familiar names Alejandro Bedoya and Jermaine Jones are also there.

Forwards

Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders, Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)

Clint Dempsey making his national team return will take all the headlines. He hasn’t been seen in the squad since Copa America last summer after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. His MLS form shows he is clearly match fit now. Dempsey has played the full 90 minutes in both of Seattle’s regular season matches this season with one goal scored.

The rest of the forward cast is the usual suspects with Altidore, Morris, and Wood all playing well at club level.

The USA’s next World Cup Qualifiers begin Friday, March 24 when they take on Honduras at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. They will then travel to Panama for the second match on March 28.

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