U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named 23 players to the roster that will train in advance of the historic meeting against Cuba. The first friendly between the nations on Cuban soil since 1947 kicks off Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. ET at Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and UniMas.
With the depth chart filling up in positions all over the field, competition will be fierce for the coveted 23 spots on the roster for the huge opening game of the Hex against rivals Mexico and the away trip to the venomous confines of Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica. While there are a host of regulars in the squad, there are a number of players looking to “make their case” for inclusion in November.
Klinsmann has opened up a rare window of opportunity for the next generation of goalkeepers this week, standing down veterans Brad Guzan and Tim Howard while bringing in David Bingham, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough. The trio have a combined three caps to their credit, with Horvath still in search of his first appearance with the Senior Team.
While the teams have played each other 11 times in their history – with the U.S. holding a record of 9-1-1 against the Cubans – visits to the island are exceedingly rare. In fact, this is only the third time they have met on Cuban soil. The first also happened to be the first game in the series and represented the lone victory in the lifetime series for the hosts, a 5-2 win on July 20, 1947, in Havana. Most recently, a 40th minute goal by Clint Dempsey proved the difference as the MNT collected a 1-0 win on Sept. 6, 2008 , and its third straight road victory in the Semifinal Round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Beginning in November, the MNT embarks on the last leg of the journey to qualify for its eighth-consecutive World Cup. The six-team, 10-game Final Round – also known as the Hex – will span 11 months and see three teams from CONCACAF automatically qualify for Russia 2018. It’s a long and winding road. If you’d like a map.
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (7): Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Danny Williams (Reading)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)
- A total of 15 players on the roster were part of the World Cup qualifying wins in September, including five of the six goal scorers.
- The 23 players ply their trade in seven different countries: USA and Germany (6 each), England (4), Mexico (3) Canada (2), Norway and Scotland (1 each)
- Jozy Altidore scored three times in those wins, improving his career total to 37 goals – third best all-time behind Landon Donovan (57) and Clint Dempsey (52). With 16 strikes in World Cup Qualifying, he currently tops the all-time U.S. list.
- Michael Bradley leads all cap winners with 122 appearances, while Toronto FC teammate Altidore is just five games shy of reaching the century mark.
- Bradley and Sacha Kljestan are the only two players on the roster who played in the MNT’s last visit to Cuba, a 1-0 World Cup Qualifying win in Havana on Sept. 6, 2008.
- Geoff Cameron was the only U.S. player to start all six Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying matches.
- Bobby Wood and Altidore have combined for 10 goals in the five matches they have started up front together all-time.
- After making his first appearance in more than two years for the MNT, Sacha Kljestan racked up two goals and two assists in the World Cup qualifying wins against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago in September.
- At 17 years, 353 days, Christian Pulisic is the youngest player in MNT history to start a FIFA World Cup qualifier, beating Jozy Altidore’s previous mark of 18 years, 343 days set on Oct. 11, 2008 vs. Cuba.
- With goals against Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago, Paul Arriola became just the eighth MNT player all-time to score in each of his first two appearances. The Club Tijuana attacker is the first to do it since Eddie Johnson achieved the feat in the fall of 2004.
- With his next assist, Bradley will tie Cobi Jones for second on the MNT’s all-time assist list (21). Landon Donovan holds the record with 58.
- Danny Williams, Timmy Chandler and Julian Green have all been summoned for duty for the first time since last May.
- Perry Kitchen joined a small fraternity of U.S internationals who have worn the captain’s armband for a club in Europe when Hearts made him the skipper last month.
- Jordan Morris has tallied 12 goals, including an MLS rookie record six game-winners, in his debut season for Seattle Sounders FC.
- Chris Wondolowski has 120 career goals in the league, and with 11 this year he extended his MLS record of double-digit goal scoring campaigns to seven-consecutive seasons.
- Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch gets his first invite to the Senior Team. The 20-year-old has started four matches in the Premier League this season and come off the bench in another.