At least for now, Landon Donovan will be part of the US national team’s two crucial upcoming World Cup qualifying matches.
MLS leading scorer and MVP frontrunner Chris Wondolowski, however, isn’t going anywhere.
Donovan was one of seven MLS players named to head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s 24-man camp ahead of the team’s final two matches of the group stage, beginning with a road match at Antigua and Barbuda on Friday (7 pm ET, beIN Sport). They’ll host Guatemala at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on Oct. 16 (7 pm ET, ESPN2).
The US are currently even with Guatemala at the top of Group A with seven points and matching totals in both goal differential and goals scored. Jamaica, who beat the US for the first time in nation’s history on Sept. 7 in Kingston, boast seven points but sit in third place due to a lower goal differential.
With the three nations tied on points and jockeying for the top two spots, no team will be able to secure a place in the Final Round until the last group matches are played on Oct. 16.
“The mentality we are bringing into these two games is to get six points,” Klinsmann said in a statement. “It’s important that the players arriving into Miami prepare themselves for two ‘finals.’ We must have urgency within the group and a clear understanding that we need to deliver, which means each player has to bring a 100 percent effort.
“All our focus and energy for the next few days will be on getting the right preparation for the team so we can win the next two games.”
The US team trying to win those two crucial two games will include Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman, FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Zusi, Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson and San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon. Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando is also on the list as a likely third goalkeeper.
But Wondolowski, who scored three goals in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday to push his league-leading total to 25 goals in 32 games this season, was excluded from the list for the second straight round of call-ups. Gordon, Johnson and Santos Laguna striker Herculez Gomez earned the calls at forward, along with freshly minted Tottenham signing Clint Dempsey.
Klinsmann also opted to exclude AZ striker Jozy Altidore (right) and Rapid Vienna youngster Terrence Boyd from the group, despite both being called in for the qualifiers against Jamaica last month.
It’s unclear if Donovan, meanwhile, will in fact be able to participate in either match after he suffered a left knee injury during the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night, which forced him out of the game. He reportedly skipped a scheduled MRI exam on Monday in Los Angeles because his status had improved so dramatically since suffering the injury Saturday, and he was set to travel to Florida on Monday.
The rest of the US team consists largely of Klinsmann’s best options from both Europe and Mexico, including Roma midfielder Michael Bradley, who missed the US team’s two qualifiers against Jamaica with a hamstring injury.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard and captain Carlos Bocanegra are back to anchor the US’ backline, along with regulars Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim) and Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland).
Former Houston Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron, who earlier this year bolted MLS for a new career with Stoke City, is also back in the mix, along with teammate Maurice Edu.
Former MLSer and current Anderlecht mainstay Sacha Kljestan is the only real surprise in the midfield, which also includes regulars Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim) and Joe Corona (Club Tijuana).
The US team begins reporting to Miami on Monday and will depart for Antigua three days later.
US ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander/Spain), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/Germany), Maurice Edu (Stoke City/England), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland/Denmark)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/Germany), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)