[USA]Only half of the 24-player squad will be available Tuesday when the U.S. national team gathers in Miami to prepare for its fourth and fifth games of the Concacaf Hexagonal, to be played in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Chicago next week.
Seven will play for their MLS teams before heading to Miami to join the squad, which departs for Costa Rica Monday. Five foreign-based players are committed to matches with their clubs as well.
Instead of playing on the regular FIFA dates of June 6 and 10, the U.S. will play Costa Rica on June 3 (to accommodate its participation in the Confederations Cup as 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup champion) before hosting Honduras at Soldier Field three days later. It leaves for South Africa June 8 with a 23-man squad for games against Brazil, Italy and Egypt.
That leaves head coach Bob Bradley just two or three training sessions with his entire group prior to a tough match against Costa Rica on the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium artificial turf, assuming none of the players in action next weekend suffer an injury, which could require emergency callups.
"That's why we keep emphasizing -- some people would say harping on -- certain things every time we're together in camp," said Bradley earlier this year. "We want everybody aware of what we expect from them so they can be ready to step in."
The U.S. leads the Hexagonal with a 2-0-1 record. Costa Rica (2-1-0) is a point behind in second, with Honduras (1-1-1) another two points back. Mexico (1-2-0, 3 points) is fourth. The top three automatically qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the fourth-placed team goes into a playoff against the fifth-place finisher in the South American group.
"We are certainly aware of the challenges of playing in Costa Rica, and Honduras has produced some great results, including two wins against Mexico," said Bradley in announcing his roster. "We are excited for the start of a very competitive summer for our team."
On hand, sooner or later, will be several players fresh off notable accomplishments. Midfielders Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasleycelebrated a Scottish Premier League title last weekend with Rangers, and can add the Scottish Cup by beating Falkirk.
Oguchi Onyewu won his second straight Belgian League title with Standard Liege, and goalkeeper Tim Howard plays for Everton against Chelsea in the English FA Cup final Saturday.
Midfielder Jose Francisco Torres will join the team following completion of the Mexican League playoffs with Pachuca, which faces UNAM in the two-leg finals Thursday and Sunday.
The attackers are led by Clint Dempsey, who finished his Premier League season as Fulham's co-top scorer with seven goals, and Jozy Altidore, who in the last qualifier scored all three goals in a 3-0 defeat of Trinidad & Tobago. Landon Donovan, the leading cap-winner on the roster with 108 appearances, assisted on all of Altidore's goals and is one of four players currently leading MLS with six league goals.
Joining the team in training are two uncapped players, Aston Villa defender Eric Lichaj and Kaiserslautern goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 5/3 SO)
Tim Howard (Everton: 9/7 SO)
Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 19/2)
Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA: 1/0)
Danny Califf (Midtjylland: 4/0)
Jay DeMerit (Watford: 1/0)
Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 17/2)
Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 14/1)
Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 9/0)
Jonathan Spector (West Ham United: 2/1)
Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC: 0/0)
Freddy Adu (Monaco: 5/1)
DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers: 24/6)
Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach: 9/4)
Maurice Edu (Rangers: 4/0)
Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus: 0/0)
Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 9/0)
Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids: 13/0)
Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 4/0)
Jozy Altidore (Xerez: 6/5)
Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 15/6)
Charlie Davies (Hammarby: 1/1)
Clint Dempsey (Fulham: 15/4)
Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 28/9)
*numbers indicate all-time World Cup qualifying caps/goals.