15 MLS players named to US roster for June World Cup qualifiers

Clint Dempsey - United States - Points at Jozy Altidore

US men’s national team head coach Bruce Arena called 27 players to training camp on Sunday ahead of the USMNT’s three June matches, including the two crucial Hexagonal matches against Trinidad & Tobago on June 8 and at Mexico on June 11.

Fifteen MLS players made the squad, which began convening in Denver on Sunday. The US will warm up for their World Cup qualifiers with a friendly against Venezuela at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium on June 3. They’ll return to Colorado after that match to take on Trinidad & Tobago at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on June 8, then travel to Mexico to square off with El Tri at the famed Estadio Azteca on June 11.

Goalkeepers Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids) and Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), defenders DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), midfielders Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire) and Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), and forwards Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) and Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) were all named to the team, which will be culled to 23 players for each World Cup qualifier.

Other than Guzan, every MLS player named to the roster has been with the US for at least one camp in 2017. Guzan, who missed the March World Cup qualifying win against Honduras and draw at Panama to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, just completed the English Premier League season with Middlesbrough and will join Atlanta after MLS’ secondary transfer window opens in July.

The usual suspects were called from Europe and Mexico, with DeAndre Yedlin, Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez and John Brooks all earning roster spots.

“I think we have a good group,” Arena said in a statement released by US Soccer. “I’m still in the early goings with this team and I haven’t seen all of our players, so this camp gives me the opportunity to see six new faces we haven’t had in with the team yet, which is valuable. It’s also great that we’re able to bring back 21 players that have been with our program already in 2017. We have a roster that has good balance all over, we have good young players and hopefully it’s a team we can put together to get us points in both games.”  

FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC all led the way by putting two players each on the US roster.

Hedges is the only MLS player on the roster who wasn’t called for the March World Cup qualifiers. The 2016 MLS Defender of the Year, the FC Dallas center back had to leave the US’s January camp early after suffering an injury. This is the first time he’s ever been called up for a World Cup qualifier. He’s joined on the roster by three other players – Rimando, McCarty and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath – searching for their World Cup qualifying debuts.

Both Dempsey and Beasley are in line to reach major milestones over the next few matches. Dempsey, who recorded four goals in the matches against Honduras and Panama, needs just one goal to tie Landon Donovan for the all-time USMNT scoring lead with 57 goals. Beasley, who made his World Cup qualifying debut under Arena in November 2001, needs an appearance against Trinidad & Tobago or Mexico to become the first player in USMNT history to play in five different World Cup qualifying cycles. 

The US currently sit in fourth in Hexagonal with a 1-2-1 record. The top three teams from the 10-round Hex will automatically qualify for next summer's World Cup in Russia, while the fourth-place country will face the fifth-place team from Asia in a playoff for a spot in the tournament. 

USMNT Roster

Goalkeepers (4)
GKBrad Guzan (Atlanta United)
GKEthan Horvath (Club Brugge)
GKTim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
GKNick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (11)
DMatt Besler (Sporting KC)
DJohn Brooks (Hertha Berlin)
DDaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo)
DGeoff Cameron (Stoke City)
DTimmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt)
DOmar Gonzalez (Pachuca)
DMatt Hedges (FC Dallas)
DTim Ream (Fulham)
DJorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna)
DDeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
DGraham Zusi (Sporting KC)
Midfielders (8)
MKellyn Acosta (FC Dallas)
MPaul Arriola (Club Tijuana)
MAlejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union)
MMichael Bradley (Toronto FC)
MFabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach)
MDax McCarty (Chicago Fire)
MDarlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
MChristian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards (4)
FJozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
FClint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders)
FJordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
FBobby Wood (Hamburg)

Withdrew from camp due to injury on May 30