[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN] Jurgen Klinsmanncalled in just 20 players to begin preparations for the World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Jamaica Friday in Kansas City and against Panama four days later in Panama City. Injuries will keep such established starters as Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnsonout of the games. Two players who were not called up for the September qualifiers have returned: Sacha Kljestan and Terrence Boyd.
Five players who played in the September qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico were not called up: Michael Parkhurst, Clarence Goodson and Michael Orozco, as well as Johnson and Dempsey.
Last week Klinsmann had indicated that Dempsey would be with the team, but his captain did not travel with the Seattle Sounders to Colorado for their game they lost to the Rapids, 5-1. Dempsey has made just one appearance off the bench for Seattle since the September qualifiers as he has been bothered by a hamstring injury. Klinsmann said that Dempsey has work to do.
“For Clint," he said in a Q&A with USSoccer.com, "it is really important to pick up the rhythm, to get back into shape and play games. He needs to train very intensely and get as many sessions as possible. He had injury problems, the transfer was done late and he didn’t have a proper preseason, and he’s running behind. So he has to do some catching up and he will eventually get it done.”
Klinsmann signaled that the countdown to Brazil 2014 had begun.
"The World Cup is a couple of levels higher up than World Cup Qualifying, even if it’s not an easy thing to go through," he said. "The benchmark in the World Cup is far higher, so whatever we do now already prepares us for that. Everything we do now sets the tone for summer of 2014, and therefore it’s important the players understand this is serious business. We want to see an improvement of the entire squad, and we want to see competition in every spot. You only have to say one word: Brazil. Then you automatically get fired up.”
GOALKEEPERS (3):Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
DEFENDERS (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting KC) Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders).