World Cup Qualifying
Bruce Arena Announces Roster for March Qualifiers
March 15, 2017
BRUCE ARENA today named his 24-man roster for the two critical World Cup qualifiers in March. The biggest surprise on the list is also one of the biggest stars in U.S. Soccer history: Clint Dempsey.
The Seattle Sounders forward suffered from an irregular heartbeat late last summer and missed the end of the 2016 Major League Soccer season, all of the MLS playoffs, and multiple matches with the national team. The 34-year-old striker was cleared to play in January, however, and started both of Seattle's first two games this season.
Arena decided that was enough to include Dempsey in his squad for the March 24 match against Honduras (10:30pm ET; FS1, UniMas, UDN) and the Panama contest four days later (10pm ET; beINSPORTS, Telemundo, Universo).
“Clint has a history that is almost second to none,” Arena said about the U.S. men's national team's second all-time leading goal scorer. “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.”
Players will report to San Jose on March 19. Here is the full roster.
Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafanna (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monnchengladbach), Sebastian Lletget (Los Angeles Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
The situation at right back is complicated. DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Lichaj would have made the roster had they been available, but both are injured. Timothy Chandler was not called in for these matches, and Arena addressed his decision regarding the Eintracht Frankfurt fullback.
“Obviously being suspended for the first game, I didn’t think it was worth having Timmy travel from Europe,” Arena said. “Jones is a different situation. He’s a domestic player, so I think that makes a little more sense.”
Of the eight defenders who did make the roster, none specialize at the right back position. Graham Zusi trialed at that spot during January camp but Arena decided not to call him in for these qualifiers.
In fact, SKC will have zero representation in these two matches: Zusi, Matt Besler, and Benny Feilhaber—who saw Arena's return to the national team as a chance to renew his international career—did not make the cut. Neither did Sacha Kljestan, a player Arena had singled out for praise prior to January camp.
Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard, who are both recovering from injuries, were both expected to make the roster, and did.
“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," he added. "We want to win.”
What do you think of this squad? Are there any names you were hoping to see who did not make the cut? Please share your take in the Comments section below.