Jobs are up for grabs. That was the message Jurgen Klinsmann sent on Sunday after announcing the US national team roster that will take on Peru and Brazil.
Six MLS players were among the 23 players called in to camp, a group that's mixes World Cup standouts such as the returning Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler and young up-and-comers John Brooks, Ventura Alvarado, Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes. Forward Andrew Wooten, who has scored five goals in five games with SV Sandhausen to start the 2.Bundesliga season, is the lone player in his first USMNT camp.
As expected, Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley and Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey will stay with their MLS clubs through Peru on Sept. 4 before joining their US teammates ahead of the Brazil clash four days later at Gillette Stadium. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough will return to Club Leon following the Peru match and will be replaced by Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire).
While the two friendlies against CONMEBOL competition were originally meant to ready the US for the Copa Centenario next summer, Klinsmann said the more pressing objective now is to narrow the group's focus ahead of the Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico on Oct. 10.
“The bigger picture is to get some answers for how we put things together for Mexico game a month from now," he told USsoccer.com in a wide-ranging interview. "Obviously we want to continue to have a good flow of guys from the Gold Cup, but also to bring back guys who are in position to compete for a spot on the roster for Oct. 10. Our message to these guys is simple: prove a point that you want to be at the Rose Bowl."
Jones and Besler return to the fold for the first time since February, while Howard is back from his year-long hiatus following a heroic performance in a Round of 16 game against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup. Cameron is also back after being left off the Gold Cup roster.
According to Klinsmann, the return of so many influential veterans signals the end of a "transitional phase" which saw a number of new faces vie for starting jobs following the World Cup.
There'll be no more coddling going forward, however. Roster and starting spots against Mexico as well as through the rest of the cycle will go to those to earn them.
“In the last year we gave the younger generation a lot of confidence and a lot of support and a lot of help, which is our job from a coaching standpoint," Klinsmann told USsoccer.com. "Now the moment comes and they have to prove it. They have to go face-to-face with the established guys and try to steal their spot. This is what it’s about now. We will find out if they are ready for it."
ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Andrew Wooten (SV Sandhausen), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)