Clint Dempsey Is Back

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena has called 24 players to San Jose, Calif., in advance of the critical World Cup Qualifiers against Honduras and Panama.

Players begin reporting to San Jose on March 19 ahead of USA-Honduras, presented by Volpi Foods. The match will take place on Friday, March 24, at Avaya Stadium. The first Final Round FIFA World Cup Qualifier in the Bay Area since 1997 is set for 7:30 p.m. PT, and will be broadcast live on FS1, UniMás and Univision Deportes.

“We put together a roster that we think has balance and one that gives us an option in playing a number of different ways,” Arena said. “It’s a roster where the primary rationale is to help us be successful in these two games, but we’re also looking down the road and bringing in some young players that we think have an opportunity to be an important part of the National Team program as well. Our approach to these games is simple: We want to win.”

Included on the roster is veteran forward Clint Dempsey, who is coming off a sabbatical from soccer after being sidelined with an irregular heartbeat.  Arena had said a week ago the he was unlikely to include Dempsey. But he did.

“Clint has a history that is almost second to none,” Arena said, according to U.S. Soccer. “We know there are some good days still ahead for Clint. He’s made great progress in preseason and his first two games with Seattle, and we think he’s a player that can still help us in these games -— perhaps at a reduced role -— but a player that still has a tremendous history of scoring goals and creating opportunities. To have that kind of player available I think is invaluable.”

U.S. MNT Roster by Position (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3):
 Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough/ENG; 13/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 33/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 33/6), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER; 2/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 19/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 12/0), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana/MEX; 6/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 2/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas; 0/0)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 1/0), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 6/0, Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 31/5), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 15/1), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy; 16/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 3/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 5/2)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 33/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 36/13), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 8/3)

EXPERIENCE A PLENTY
The roster features 19 players with previous World Cup Qualifying experience. A total of 10 players on the roster have 12 or more World Cup Qualifying appearances while five of those have played in more than 30 previous qualifiers: Clint Dempsey (36), Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley and Tim Howard (33 each), and Michael Bradley (31).

FIRST FULL GATHERING SINCE NOVEMBER
The camp next week marks the first gathering of the full group since last November and the losses to Mexico and Costa Rica. The annual January Camp was made up almost exclusively of M.L.S. players since the European leagues and Liga MX were in season and those clubs were not required to release their MNT members. Arena has made two trips outside the United States to meet with players and has been in constant contact. He will work with many of them on the field for the first time when they report this weekend.

TRIO RETURNS
The U.S. will be boosted by the return of three veteran players from the injury list. After being sidelined due to an irregular heartbeat, Clint Dempsey rejoins the MNT for the first time since last June’s Copa America Centenario. Tim Howard is also back after recovering from an adductor fracture during November’s 2-1 World Cup Qualifying defeat against Mexico. Having recovered from an MCL strain while playing for Stoke City, Geoff Cameron returns to the USA roster for the first since a 2-0 friendly win at Cuba on Oct. 7, 2016, in Havana.

ROSTER NOTES

  • The roster features 19 players who have previous World Cup Qualifying experience.
  • A total of 10 players on the roster have 12 or more World Cup Qualifying appearances while five of those have played in more than 30 previous qualifiers: Clint Dempsey (36), Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley and Tim Howard (33 each), and Michael Bradley (31).
  • While 12 players on the roster were part of January Camp, defenders Jorge Villafaña and Walker Zimmerman and midfielders Sebastian Lletget and Dax McCarty were the big winners, with all four looking to make their qualifying debuts.
  • Midfielder Jermaine Jones will serve a one-game suspension for the March 24 match vs. Panama.
  • Three players are carrying yellow cards into these matches: Altidore, Bradley, and Brooks. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension.
  • Eight eligible players have previous World Cup Qualifying appearances against Honduras: Howard (4), Altidore, Bradley and Dempsey (3 each), Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson (2 each), and Beasley (1).
  • Dempsey leads the team with four career goals against Honduras. The MNT’s second all-time leading scorer tallied against LosCatrachos in a 2-1 World Cup Qualifying loss on Feb. 6, 2013 in San Pedro Sula.
  • Altidore has two career strikes against Honduras, including thengame-winner in the USA’s 1-0 shutout in the Final Round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
  • Eleven players have previous World Cup Qualifying caps against Panama: Dempsey (3), Altidore and Howard (2 each), Beasley, Alejandro Bedoya, Bradley, Cameron, Gonzalez, Brad Guzan, Johnson, and Michael Orozco (1 each).
  • Three players have scored against Panama, with two in qualifying. Orozco scored the opening goal in the MNT’s 3-2 win in Panama City on Oct. 15, 2013, while Altidore also tallied the game-winner in the USA’s 2-0 win on June 11, 2013, in Seattle.
  • Dempsey scored the lone goal in the USA’s 1-0 Semifinal victory against Los Canaleros in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinal on June 22, 2011 in Houston.
  • Fresh off becoming the youngest U.S. player to score in the UEFA Champions League, Christian Pulisic is set to come into his fourth World Cup Qualifying camp. The 18-year-old has racked up five goals and eight assists in 30 competitive appearances for BVB this season.
  • With nine goals from 23 appearances across all competitions this season for Hamburg, Bobby Wood comes off scoring an 80th minute winner in HSV’s 2-1 victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday.
  • Having tallied three goals in four competitive appearances for FC Dallas this season, Kellyn Acosta will look to make his second World Cup Qualifying appearance after he made his debut on Sept. 2, 2016 at St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • After being sidelined due to an irregular heartbeat, Dempsey rejoins the MNT for the first time since last June’s Copa America Centenario.
  • Howard also returns to the MNT for the first time since suffering an adductor fracture during November’s 2-1 World Cup Qualifying defeat vs. Mexico. The veteran goalkeeper comes off a seven-save performance in Colorado Rapids’ 1-0 victory against New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
  • Having recovered from an MCL strain while playing for Stoke City, Cameron is back on the MNT roster for the first since a 2-0 friendly win at Cuba on Oct. 7. Cameron has appeared in the Potters’ past two league matches, helping the club earn a 2-0 shutout win against Middlesbrough on March 4.
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