U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena will have 25 players in training camp in advance of the USA’s decisive World Cup Qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.
With two games remaining in the Final Round of Qualifying, the U.S. holds its destiny in its own hands and has positioned itself to advance for its eighth consecutive World Cup. Wins at home against Panama and away to last-place Trinidad & Tobago would virtually guarantee a spot in Russia 2018. First up is a meeting with Panama in Orlando, Fla., Oct 6. The final game is on the road, Oct. 10 in Trinidad & Tobago.
The USMNT is currently fourth in the six-team Hexagonal standings. The top three finishers earn the region’s automatic berths in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The fourth team can advance by winning a playin game against either Australia or an Asian team.
“It’s a roster we’ve selected that we believe will give us success in these next two games. We have a pretty balanced roster with experienced players,” Arena said. “The players always give the commitment, that’s never an issue. The issue is whether we get the results we need, and I think we’re positioned to do that. I think if it comes down to where we need four or six points in our last two games, I think that’s fine and we’ll get it done.
The original call-up list was 26, but Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes had to withdraw with a groin injury. The USA defense should be bolstered with the return of DeAndre Yedlin, who is coming back from an injury. Centerback Geoff Cameron has recently been nursing an injury.
USA-Panama, presented by Volpi Foods, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 6 from Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Fla. [ESPN2, Univision, UDN). Four days later, the U.S. can secure a berth to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the final match of the Hex against Trinidad & Tobago. Coverage on Oct. 10 from Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad begins at 8 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT and UNIVERSO.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals):G
OALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 15/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 37/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 35/6), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 12/1), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 24/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 16/0), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana/MEX; 6/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 6/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 4/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; (8/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 20/3)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 5/0),Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 0/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 5/1), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 9/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 38/7), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City; 6/0), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 9/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 11/5),
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 39/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 41/18), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 12/4)
IN POSITION TO QUALIFY
The top three teams in CONCACAF earn an automatic bid for the World Cup, and the United States is poised to collect one of those spots. On Matchday 9, the U.S. hosts Panama which sits one point ahead in the table. The USA is 11-1-6 all-time against Los Canaleros and has never lost to them in World Cup Qualifying, going 5-0-2 in seven matches. Four days later, they visit last-place Trinidad & Tobago.
“We know from experience that qualifying is a long and difficult road. We’ve put ourselves in position to qualify, and that’s all you want,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “We knew from the outset it was going to come down to the wire. We are confident and determined to get the job done.”
Panama and Honduras are the USA’s closest competitors for the remaining spots, and each face a difficult road. Following its meeting against the United States, the Panamanians host second-place Costa Rica. Meantime, on Matchday 9 the Hondurans are away to Costa Rica, who still need a point to guarantee a ticket to Russia. Los Catrachos close out against group leaders Mexico.
STRONG IN ’17
The MNT has been formidable this year, winning the confederation championship and taking points in all three road World Cup Qualifiers, including the 1-1 draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. The 2017 Gold Cup champions have lost only once in 16 matches, tallying 28 goals and recording seven shutouts. Seven players have put their names on the scoresheet multiple times, with Clint Dempsey leading all U.S. scorers with five goals, while Christian Pulisic has tallied four goals and three assists.
- A total of 12 players on the roster have made 11 or more FIFA World Cup Qualifying appearances: Clint Dempsey (41), Jozy Altidore (39), Michael Bradley (38), Tim Howard (37), DaMarcus Beasley (35), Geoff Cameron (24), Graham Zusi (20), Omar Gonzalez (16), Brad Guzan (15), Matt Besler, Bobby Wood (12 each) and Christian Pulisic (11).
- Seventeen players logged time during the team’s September World Cup Qualifying matches: goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Howard; defenders Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Gonzalez, Ream, Jorge Villafaña and Zusi; midfielders Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Bradley, Darlington Nagbe and Pulisic; forwards Altidore, Dempsey and Wood.
- Because the MNT has nine players on caution watch entering this match, Arena has once again elected to call a larger 26-player roster. Acosta, Arriola, Beasley, Bedoya, Besler, Bradley, Cameron, Dempsey and Yedlin will serve a one-match suspension with their next yellow card.
- Eighteen of the 26 players hail from Major League Soccer clubs, while three each come from clubs in England and Mexico and two from Germany.
- Four players will look to make their World Cup Qualifying debuts: goalkeeper Nick Rimando, midfielders Juan Agudelo and Dax McCarty, and forward Chris Wondolowski.
- Already tied with Landon Donovan as the USA’s all-time goal scoring leader at 57, Dempsey is the MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying caps (41) and goal scoring (18) leader.
- Four players on the roster have previously scored against Panama: Dempsey (4), Zusi (2), Altidore and Bradley (1 each)
- Dempsey, Zusi and Altidore have all tallied goals against Panama in World Cup Qualifying. Dempsey found the back of the net in a 1-1 draw at Panama City (March 28, 2017), Altidore recorded a goal during a 2-0 win in Seattle (June 18, 2013), while Zusi memorably headed home the equalizer in the USA’s eventual 3-2 win to knock Panama out of World Cup contention (Oct. 15, 2013 in Panama City).
- Five players have recorded World Cup Qualifying goals against Trinidad & Tobago: Altidore (5), Pulisic, (2), Arriola, Bradley and Dempsey (1 each).
- Then 19 years old, Altidore memorably tallied a hat trick in a 3-0 qualifying victory against the Soca Warriors on April 1, 2009 in Nashville. He tallied two more in the USA’s 4-0 win vs. T&T during the Semifinal Round on Sept. 6, 2016 in Jacksonville, Fla.
- That Semifinal Round match saw the young attacker score the fourth goal in his World Cup Qualifying debut for the U.S.
- Most recently, Pulisic scored both goals in the USA’s 2-0 World Cup Qualifying win on June 8, 2017 in Commerce City, Colo.
- In one way or another, Pulisic has been involved in nine of the 12 goals scored by the U.S. during the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
- Forward Bobby Wood returns to camp after tallying a crucial 85 th minute equalizer in the USA’s 1-1 draw at Honduras last month. Four of Wood’s nine international goals have come in the 85 th minute or later.
- After being sidelined the past few weeks with a hamstring injury, center back Geoff Cameron returned for Stoke City on Saturday, going 90 minutes in the club’s 2-1 home win against Southampton.
- Two players on the roster grew up in the Orlando area. Midfielder Dax McCarty hails from Winter Park, while Zusi is from nearby Longwood.
- The October camp marks returns for three MNT players. Defender DeAndre Yedlin missed September’s qualifiers due to a hamstring injury, but has returned to play in both of Newcastle United’s league matches prior to Sunday’s announcement.
- Defender Michael Orozco takes part in his first camp since the March qualifiers earlier this year.
- Benny Feilhaber is back with the MNT for the first time since assisting on the game-winning goal in the USA’s 1-0 friendly win vs. Jamaica on Feb. 5, 2017. The Sporting KC midfielder also enters his first World Cup Qualifying camp since October 2009.
- Besler, Feilhaber and Zusi all come into camp on the heels of Sporting KC’s 2-1 victory against New York Red Bulls in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Sept. 20. The trio each went 90 minutes to help the club to a fourth Open Cup title.
- In his first season with the Chicago Fire, McCarty just made his 300 th M.L.S. Regular Season appearance during the club’s 4-1 victory at San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 27
- Goalkeeper Brad Guzan is in great form with Atlanta United FC. Since joining the expansion side in July, the veteran has backstopped the club to a 6-1-4 record, earning six clean sheets along the way.
- Defender DaMarcus Beasley received his first World Cup Qualifying cap in a 0-0 draw at Trinidad & Tobago on Nov. 11, 2001 in Port of Spain. Like this year’s contest, it was also the last matchday of the Final Round of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. That appearance helped ensure Beasley became the first U.S. MNT player to take part in five different World Cup Qualifying cycles (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018).
- Having secured a transfer to D.C. United in August, Paul Arriola has helped the capital club to a 4-3-1 record in the eight matches since his arrival.
- Eight players on the U.S. roster were not yet born when Paul Caligiuri scored his “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in the USA’s 1-0 defeat of Trinidad & Tobago to qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 19, 1989: Acosta, Agudelo, Arriola, Nagbe, Pulisic, Wood, Yedlin and Zardes.
- Altidore and Villafaña were both less than a month old when the iconic moment in U.S. Soccer history occurred.