Jurgen Klinsmann will stick with the group that got him and the US national this far on the road to Brazil.
The USMNT head coach on Sunday announced the 20 players he’s called in for the team’s final two World Cup qualifying matches later this month, and the group looks strikingly similar to the one that has put the US on top of the CONCACAF Hexagonal through eight games.
Klinsmann called 11 players from the European ranks, seven from Major League Soccer and two from Mexico to the group, which began gathering on Sunday in Kansas City for a match there on Oct. 11 against Jamaica. The USMNT will close out the 10-game Hexagonal on the road against Panama in Panama City on Oct. 15.
The US – who lead the CONCACAF standings with 16 points – secured their passage to the World Cup last month with a 2-0 win over Mexico, their fifth win in eight games of the Hexagonal. Costa Rica – who trail the Americans by one point and still have a road match in Honduras and another at home against Mexico to close out the round – are the only other team that has clinched a berth in Brazil.
All told, 17 of the 20 players called on Sunday were part of the last camp that saw the United States qualify for the World Cup for the seventh-consecutive time.
"For the rosters against Jamaica and Panama, the thought process was the same as all the previous qualifiers," Klinsmann said in a interview with U.S. Soccer. "We want to win these games. We want to finish off the year on a high note, but we also want to make the game against Jamaica a special one. It’s our last home game of 2013, and we have had tremendous support from all the fans throughout the country wherever we have played.
"We want to recognize that and give the fans a real good game and three points," he added. "These games already count toward the World Cup in 2014 in terms of the internal competition and the mentality we are trying to build.”
LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan highlights an MLS contingent that also includes teammate and defender Omar Gonzalez, who appears poised to become the only US player to start all 10 of the team’s games in the Hexagonal.
The Sporting Kansas City duo of midfielder Graham Zusi and defender Matt Besler are also back in tow for Klinsmann’s group, and Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson returns after another solid outing during the team’s win over Mexico.
Sunderland stiker Jozy Altidore leads the European group after missing the win over Mexico because of yellow card accumulation. USMNT regulars Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard are also on board, as is young striker Aron Johannsson, playmaking midfielder Mix Diskerud and veteran Sacha Kljestan.
Veteran DaMarcus Beasley and fellow defender Edgar Castillo make up Klinsmann’s pairing called from Mexico, with Beasley leading all players on the US roster with 13 starts this year.
The two most noticeable absences to the latest group are midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Clint Dempsey, both left off the roster due to injuries that have sidelined both players in recent weeks.
Bradley suffered a severely sprained ankle during pregame warm-ups before the US’ 3-1 loss in Costa Rica on Sept. 6 and has not played since, while Dempsey suffered a hamstring injury while training with the Sounders more than two weeks ago. He has missed Seattle’s past three games.
“For Clint, it is really important to pick up the rhythm, to get back into shape and play games," Klinsmann said. "He needs to train very intensely and get as many sessions as possible. He had injury problems, the transfer was done late and he didn’t have a proper preseason, and he’s running behind. So he has to do some catching up and he will eventually get it done.”
Midfielder/defender Fabian Johnson was also left off the list after suffering an ankle injury during a match with Hoffenheim on Sept. 28. Defender John Anthony Brooks - who was called into the last camp but did not appear vs. Costa Rica and returned to Europe before the match against Mexico - suffered elbow and forearm injuries during a match with Hertha Berlin late last month.
Jamaica have picked up just four points thus far and are the only team in the Hexagonal yet to win a game, while Panama are tied with Mexico on eight points heading into a huge matchup between the two teams in Mexico City on Oct. 11.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/France), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/Norway), Jermaine Jones (Schalke/Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/England), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)