No Tim Howard, no Carlos Bocanegra, and nowhere near as much German-American influence. The US national team is about to look a whole lot different for the latest round of World Cup qualifiers.
Jurgen Klinsmann revealed his 23-man roster on Monday for two crucial upcoming matches in Denver and Mexico City, and there’s a stark difference between the new group and the one that wilted in a 2-1 loss in the Hexagonal opener last month in Honduras.
The US host Costa Rica on Friday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (10 pm ET, ESPN), before taking on Mexico in Mexico City on March 26 (10:30 pm ET, ESPN).
The group is made up 11 European-based players, three from Mexico and nine from Major League Soccer, but it’s notable for the players not invited to camp just as much as for the ones who’ll begin workouts in Colorado on Monday.
After breaking two bones in his back during a match with Everton earlier this month, Howard has been replaced by Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, while Real Salt Lake veteran Nick Rimando and Chicago Fire youngster Sean Johnson will serve as backups.
Bocanegra is also out but apparently not for injury, and the backline is in disarray after recent injuries cut down Hoffenhein’s Fabian Johnson (hip) and Tijuana’s Edgar Castillo (facial fractures). The only natural outside backs called in on Monday were Tony Beltran from Real Salt Lake and Justin Morrow of the San Jose Earthquakes, both relative newcomers to the international level who have never competed in a World Cup qualifying match.
The only defenders on the roster with more than five WCQ caps are Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron and Brondy’s Clarence Goodson. MLSers Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) and LA’s Omar Gonzalez round out the group.
Also left out were the bulk of Klinsmann’s prized German-based players, with the exception of holding midfielder Jermaine Jones and Rapid Wien striker Terrence Boyd. FC Nürnberg defender Timmy Chandler (hamstring), Hoffenheim midfielder Danny Williams (illness) join the injured Johnson as ones left out of the mix.
Longtime defender and Hannover captain Steve Cherundolo is also still battling a knee injury, while Tigres UANL midfielder Jose Torres has been hobbled recently by a bad hamstring. As expected, LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan was left off the roster as he returns from his winter hiatus later this month.
Klinsmann will lean on a midfield featuring regulars Jones, AS Roma’s Michael Bradley, Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi and a collection of others from five different leagues: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Maurice Edu (Bursapor), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Joe Corona (Tijuana) and ageless midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla).
The forward crew is made up of the youngster Boyd and the incumbents Clint Dempsey (Tottenham), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar) and Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna), along with Seattle Sounders star Eddie Johnson.
US ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England - 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire - 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake - 0/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake - 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City - 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England - 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy - 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark - 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes - 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico - 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake - 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy - 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico - 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor/Turkey - 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany - 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium - 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City/England - 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City - 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands - 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria - 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England - 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico - 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC - 12/10)