US men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann released the names of the 24 players invited to camp ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in Honduras on Monday morning, with seven players from Major League Soccer making the cut for the Americans’ opening Hexagonal matchup in San Pedro Sula.
There were few surprises after a January camp that ended last week with a scoreless draw against Canada, but a handful of MLSers are further along on the road to a World Cup spot than they’ve ever been. That group includes reigning MLS Defender of the Year Matt Besler from Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo winger Brad Davis, Seattle Sounders handyman defender Brad Evans and LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, the MVP of the MLS Cup in December.
Other MLSers on the roster include Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, Sporting Kansas City midfield Graham Zusi and Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson. In all, 18 of the 24 players have MLS experience.
Notable players left off the list this time around include Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber and San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski, who tied a single-season scoring record in 2012 with 27 goals.
As expected, Landon Donovan was not called up as he takes time off from the game following the LA Galaxy's MLS Cup victory.
The rest of Klinsmann’s group is largely as expected for a match with such large expectations, including Tottenham forward Clint Dempsey, AZ Alkmaar forward Jozy Altidore, Roma midfielder Michael Bradley and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Nürnberg defender Timmy Chandler has been called into camp with eyes on becoming cap-tied with an appearance in the Honduras match, while Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan and Tigres UANL midfielder Jose Torres are also on the list after on-again, off-again appearances under Klinsmann since 2011.
The US team was expected to train in Miami on Monday before departing for Honduras later in the day.
"We want to have a sense of urgency right from the start of the final round," Klinsmann said in a statement. "We have a lot of respect for Honduras, but our message to the team is that we are going there to get three points. One thing we learned from the semifinal round is that you have to bring the right mentality to play in the tough games on the road, and I'm confident we are ready to do that."
The US and Honduras are part of the six-team Hexagonal along with Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama. The 10-game, round-robin format will be contested from Feb. 6 until Oct.10. The top three teams will automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place team will compete in a two-leg playoff against the champion from the Oceania Confederation.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa - 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton - 22/9 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire - 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9) : Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City - 0/0), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander - 31/5), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City - 5/0), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana - 0/0), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg - 0/0), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders - 0/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy - 0/0), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim - 3/0), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg - 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Michael Bradley (Roma - 19/5), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo - 0/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor - 9/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 - 5/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht - 12/0), Jose Torres (Tigres UANL - 9/0), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim - 4/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City - 3/0)
FORWARDS (4 ): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar - 17/6), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur - 26/10), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna - 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders - 11/10)