LA Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle and a revitalized Geoff Cameron highlight the MLS contingent of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s US roster for a huge international friendly against Italy next week.
The trio is also joined by Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando for the match on Feb. 29 in Genoa, perhaps the toughest test yet under Klinsmann’s tenure as World Cup qualifying looms this summer. The 21-man roster was announced by US Soccer on Thursday.
The group has its fair share of World Cup regulars, including captain Carlos Bocanegra, goalkeeper Tim Howard, defender Steve Cherundolo, midfielder Michael Bradley and forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey.
But there are also a number of players still fighting for a roster spot ahead of this summer’s qualifiers, such as resilient center back Michael Parkhurst, playmaker Jose Francisco Torres, promising German Timmy Chandler and veteran midfielder Jermaine Jones, who was the anchor of a young US group brought into the January camp last month.
Borussia Dortmund youngster Terrence Boyd is the only player on the roster who received his first call-up.
Perhaps the most intriguing MLS storyline is the steady rise of Cameron, who anchored the Houston Dynamo’s back line last season after a switch from central midfield. He continued that transition during the January camp, starting both games in the center of defense and playing well against Venezuela and Panama before receiving a red card in the match against Panama for a last-man tackle on FC Dallas striker Blas Pérez.
Denmark-based center back Clarence Goodson is most likely the toughest competition for Cameron to pair with Bocanegra in the back, but former New England Revolution standout Parkhurst also impressed during the January camp.
Buddle appeared in four games for the US in 2011, but was not part of the January camp. He returns to Klinsmann’s group just weeks after rejoining the LA Galaxy from German side Ingolstadt.
Rimando was a bright spot in the 1-0 win over Panama last month and will likely compete with Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan for the backup spot in net behind veteran incumbent Howard.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)