Bruce Arena Blends Experience, Youth In USMNT World Cup Qualifying Squad
USMNT manager Bruce Arena has announced his 24-man squad for vital World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama at the end of March. This represented the first opportunity for Arena to include European-based talent, but it’s clear that he’s also given a fair shake to the MLS players that impressed during January camp.
The three inclusions at the goalkeeper position will surprise no one, with Tim Howard returning to fitness and starting for Colorado at the weekend. Arena says they will monitor him throughout the buildup to the March 24 match against Honduras, and he’d likely get the nod if he looks ready.
In defense, the return of Geoff Cameron after a spell on the sideline through injury, which resulted in him missing the first two games of the Hex, is nothing short of a godsend for a defense that struggled heavily in defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica.
The full back positions remain a concern for the USA, and DeAndre Yedlin’s thigh injury only compounds the problem. Walker Zimmerman, who was superb in the team’s victory over Jamaica in Tennessee, is the beneficiary of a strong camp.
The midfield is highlighted by young talents Christian Pulisic and Kellyn Acosta, named alongside the ever-present likes of Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya.
MLS players Darlington Nagbe and Dax McCarty, who many felt Jurgen Klinsmann unfairly ignored, have also been named to the 24. Sporting Kansas City's Benny Feilhaber misses out.
In attack, the inclusion of Clint Dempsey is the biggest news with the forward just returning to action after six months on the sideline. Bobby Wood’s form for Hamburg means that he’ll be a strong candidate to lead the line.
The USMNT plays Honduras in San Jose, California on March 24 and Panama in Panama City on March 28. A loss in either match would almost eliminate any margin for error throughout the rest of qualifying.
USMNT Roster for March World Cup Qualifying
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna)
Midfielders: Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire)
Forwards: Bobby Wood (Hamburg), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)