Ten MLS players picked for U.S. team
last November's 1-1 draw against Jamaica. Twellman has seen the field once for the U.S. this year, getting sent off against Colombia on March 9 just eight minutes after entering the match.
A handful of MLS players who helped the U.S. win the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July have also been brought in for next week's qualifier, including two who made their international bow at the regional championship. Kansas City Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad and D.C. United midfielder Santino Quaranta each debuted in the Red, White and Blue's opening match of the tournament against Cuba on July 7. Conrad went on to make six appearances -- including five starts -- during the tournament, and Quaranta helped the U.S. to victory by converting the opening kick of the penalty shootout against Panama in the final.
Among the other Gold Cup combatants called in to face the Soca Warriors are FC Dallas defender Greg Vanney, New England Revolution midfielder Steve Ralston, Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, and Chicago Fire midfielder Chris Armas -- who made his return to the national team at the Gold Cup after nearly a year away. Two Los Angeles Galaxy players who were not part of the Gold Cup roster -- goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and defender Chris Albright -- have also been called in.
Former MLS players summoned by Arena include forward Brian McBride (Fulham FC), goalkeeper Tim Howard (Manchester United) and midfielders DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Bobby Convey (Reading FC) and Eddie Lewis (Leeds United). Goalkeeper Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach), defenders Gregg Berhalter (Energie Cottbus) and Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege), and midfielders John O'Brien (ADO Den Haag) and Claudio Reyna (Manchester City) round out the squad.
The U.S. team can all but clinch qualification to the 2006 World Cup with a victory against Leo Beenhakker's Trinidad & Tobago side. With five matches left and the U.S. needing only to finish in third place to qualify automatically, the team finds itself in second place, eight points ahead of fourth-place Guatemala. Depending on the chapines result the same night against Panama, Arena's men could move to within one point of booking a trip to Germany.
Based on past results, the U.S. can enter next week's match with confidence. The side has never lost to their Caribbean foes in nine qualifiers, including seven wins. In six of those games, the U.S. has registered a clean sheet.
The selected players will report to the Hartford area on Aug. 14 after the completion of their league matches this weekend. Because the match is schedule on a friendly date as designated on the FIFA international coordinated calendar, players need only be released by their clubs 48 hours prior to kickoff.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.