U.S. national team head coach Bruce Arena on Monday announced his 18-man roster for the USA's upcoming World Cup qualifying match against Costa Rica on Saturday. That match is scheduled to kickoff at 9 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on a one-hour tape-delay (10 p.m. ET) on ESPN2.
The U.S. currently sits atop the CONCACAF qualifying table, having already secured a spot in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany with a 6-1-1 record. With nothing for the Red, White and Blue to lose, Arena can use the remaining qualifying matches to evaluate players before solidifying the roster that will head to Europe next summer.
Not surprisingly, the San Jose Earthquakes have contributed the largest contingent of any Major League Soccer team to Arena's roster. Having already locked up the top seed in the Western Conference, the Quakes also have nothing to lose, allowing Arena to select four men from the league's top side. Defenders Wade Barrett and Danny Califf join striker Brian Ching as returnees, while midfielder Ricardo Clark accepts his invitation as the only uncapped player on the roster.
New England Revolution striker and MLS top scorer Taylor Twellman is back in the international picture and is looking to score his first goal for the U.S. team. The St. Louis native has found the net 16 times this season in league play. Closing out the ranks up top is D.C. United's Santino Quaranta, who has also seen time for the U.S. team on the right side of midfield.
The midfield will likely be anchored by U.S. team and Colorado Rapids veteran Pablo Mastroeni. With 42 international appearances, he is the second most experienced MLS player on the roster, second only to Real Salt Lake defender Eddie Pope (72). Columbus Crew midfielder Kyle Martino makes his return to the U.S. team as well.
Los Angeles Galaxy defender Chris Albright will look to take his fine league form to the national team level. Joining him will be his club teammate, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Hartman will likely serve as the backup to former MetroStars shot-stopper Tim Howard (now with Manchester United), who returns to the U.S. team for the first time in 2005.
Other European players summoned include former Chicago Fire stars DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Holland) and Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC, England), former D.C. United player Bobby Convey (Reading, England) and ex-San Jose winger Eddie Lewis. Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege, Belgium) and Jonathan Spector (Manchester United) bring the roster to its 18-man capacity.
Arena's side is looking to do something no other U.S. team has ever done in Costa Rica - win a World Cup qualifier. The USA is 0-5-1 in six qualifying games in the Central American nation. The ticos will be tough competition, though, as they currently sit in third place in the hexagonal and they can clinch a berth in the 2006 World Cup with a win against the U.S. on Saturday.
Arena's squad is currently training in Miami in preparation for the Costa Rica contest. Following their meeting with Costa Rica, the roster for the Oct. 12 matchup against Panama will be finalized and the U.S. team will rejoin in the Boston area in advance of that match. That game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. ET kickoff and can be seen live on ESPN2.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.