U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named 26 players to the roster that will train in advance of the opening matches of Final Round Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Final Round, also known as the “Hex”, begins with USA-Mexico, presented by AT&T, on Nov. 11 in Columbus, Ohio.
For the third time in five World Cup Qualifying cycles dating back to 2001, the MNT begins the Final Round with a home match against Mexico. The biggest game on U.S. soil every four years requires the team’s best, and Klinsmann has responded by bringing the strongest squad available. There are 15 players on the roster with World Cup experience, and a total of 17 who have seen action against Mexico, including 11 who have previously faced El Tri in World Cup Qualifying.
Columbus has served as the spiritual home of U.S. Soccer and the host of USA-Mexico for the past four cycles. In each, the United States has collected 2-0 shutout victories, establishing the rally cry of “Dos a Cero” among U.S. supporters. On two occasions – in 2005 and 2013 – the victories secured the USA’s advancement to the World Cup.
Imagine if Ohio State and Michigan were the size of countries. Now you can start to appreciate the rivalry that is USA-Mexico. In the world of global soccer, there are the storied matchups like Barcelona-Real Madrid in Spain, Rangers-Celtic in Scotland and Boca Juniors-River Plate in Argentina. What they all have in common are decades of history, classic moments, and off-the-field differences that combined make up a rivalry bigger than sport. In this contest between North American neighbors, the tides turned for good in the biggest meeting of their 82-year history on June 17, 2002, when the United States defeated Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. “Today is a funeral,” remarked one Mexican fan. “We used to have soccer over them. Now we have nothing.”
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough; 11/0), Ethan Horvath (Molde; 0/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 32/0), William Yarbrough (Club Leon; 0/0)
FORWARDS (4):Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC; 31/16), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen; 3/1), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg; 6/2)
- A total of 15 players have been part of a U.S. World Cup roster, while 20 have previous World Cup Qualifying experience.
- The 26 players ply their trade in seven different countries: USA (8), Germany (7), England (4), Mexico (3), Canada (2), Norway (1), Liechtenstein (1).
- Michael Bradley leads all cap-winners on the roster with 124 all-time appearances. The captain’s four World Cup Qualifying appearances against Mexico also leads the list of 11 USA players that have previously faced El Tri in qualifying.
- Tim Howard leads the roster with 32 World Cup Qualifying appearances and sits fourth on the MNT’s all-time list. With his next WCQ appearance, he will tie former teammate DaMarcus Beasley for third all-time.
- Bradley and Howard also lead the team with 10 all-time international appearances against Mexico.
- Tallying three times during the MNT’s two World Cup Qualifying matches in September, Jozy Altidore is the USA’s all-time leader in WCQ goals with 16. Altidore also sits third on the MNT’s all-time goal scoring list with 37 total.
- Nine players have previously played in a World Cup Qualifying match against Mexico in Columbus: Altidore, Bradley, Howard, Alejandro Bedoya, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan and Graham Zusi.
- Five players on the U.S. roster have scored goals against Mexico: Bradley (3), Altidore, Jordan Morris, Michael Orozco and Bobby Wood (1 each).
- While John Brooks and Julian Green both scored in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, each is looking for his first World Cup Qualifying appearance. Four others are also hoping to debut: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Lynden Gooch, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough
- Altidore and Wood have combined for 10 goals in the six matches they have started up front together.
- Four players hail from Champions League clubs on two different continents. Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) and Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach) are carrying the flag in the UEFA Champions League, while Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls) and Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca) have their clubs in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
- Green returns to MNT camp after tallying both September friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand. Green made his international debut in a 2-2 draw against Mexico on April 2, 2014.
- Forward Aron Johannsson makes his first MNT camp appearance since coming off the bench in the USA’s 4-1 defeat to Brazil on Sept. 8, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass.
- Carter-Vickers receives his first call-up to the senior MNT. The 18-year-old Tottenham Hotspur defender was part of the U.S. squad at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
- 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.