USMNT: Loss of Dempsey and Zardes complicates matters

No captain Michael Bradleyfor Friday's game -- suspended for yellow-card accumulation -- we've known that for five months.

But Jurgen Klinsmann's task of naming a roster for September's two World Cup 2018 qualifiers became complicated when it was revealed that Clint Dempsey was sidelined with an irregular heart beat and Gyasi Zardes, a national team fixture for the last 20 months, was injured in the LA Galaxy's MLS match.

Klinsmann  called in 26 players Sunday to a camp in Jacksonville, Florida, to prepare for World Cup 2018 qualifiers at St. Vincent & the Grenadines on Friday and against Trinidad & Tobago in Jacksonville four days after that.

WHO'S IN? Klinsmann was adamant about keeping together the team that finished fourth at the Copa Centenario. Nineteen of the 23 players on the June roster were called in.

"We definitely think that the group that got fourth in the Copa America deserves a certain priority going on to the next World Cup qualifiers because they did tremendously well in the Copa America," he said in announcing the roster. "It was an exciting tournament with great games. The whole group learned a lot, playing teams like Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. This is a big stage, and they deserve to come back and confirm what they did in the tournament in these upcoming, very important World Cup qualifiers.

There were a couple of surprises. Jermaine Jones was called up even though he hasn't played since July 4 with a knee injury and is still day-to-day. Chris Wondolowski returns even though he has scored his two goals in 10 starts for the slumping San Jose Earthquakes since the Copa Centenario ended.

To make up for the losses of Dempsey and Zardes, Jozy Altidore  returns after missing the Copa Centenario in June with a hamstring injury. He's slowly regained his fitness and hit his stride with goals in five of Toronto's last seven MLS games.

Omar Gonzalez, who helped Pachuca of Mexico win the Torneo Clausura in May returns after being overlooked for the Copa Centenario in June. Paul Arriola, who plays for Tijuana, first in Liga MX's Torneo Apertura, returns after debuting against Puerto Rico in May.

Also back: Kellyn Acosta and Jordan Morris, who played with the U-23s in the Olympic qualifying playoff, and Rubio Rubio, who was injured part of last season in the Netherlands.

The one field player who's never played for the senior national team is Caleb Stanko of Liechtenstein's FC Vaduz. He was called in for the Puerto Rico game in May but didn't play. Stanko, who is on loan from German club Freiburg, left Saturday's Swiss league game in the first half with what was reported to be an injury.

WHO'S OUT? The USA will be without Dempsey and Zardes while Bradley and Michael Orozco are both suspended for the SVG game.

The only other players from the Copa Centenario team not called up were Edgar Castillo (who is injured) and Perry Kitchen, though neither played in the tournament.

Klinsmann has always been reluctant to use uncapped players without first looking at them at January camp or, in the case of foreign-based players, in friendly games. MLS youngsters like Keegan Rosenberry, Tommy McNamara and Christian Roldan or Jorge Villafana, based in Mexico, or Lynden Gooch, who made his English Premier League debut, may have to wait until October for a chance. In October, the USA will play friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand, its last tests before the Hexagonal starts in November.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?  First things first, the USA will need to take care of business against St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago. It opens Friday against the Vincy Heat on the road. Four years ago, at a similar stage, the USA struggled to beat Antigua & Barbuda, 2-1, and needed a result against Guatemala to advance to the Hexagonal.

A USA win the Arnos Vale Stadium, SVG's cricket ground, and T&T home win over Guatemala on Friday would send the USA and T&T into the Hexagonal with a game to spare. A USA win over T&T in Jacksonville four days after that would clinch first place in Group C -- and a home date with Mexico on Nov. 11 in the Hex opener.

Friday, Sept. 2 -- USA at St. Vincent & the Grenadines (3:30 p.m. ET -- beIN SPORT).
Tuesday, Sept. 6 -- USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago (8 p.m. ET -- FS1, UniMas)

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough/ENG), Ethan Horvath (Molde/NOR), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids).
DEFENDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER), Michael Orozco (Tijuana/MEX -- suspended vs. SVG), *DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG).
MIDFIELDERS (9): Paul Arriola (Tijuana/MEX), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC  -- suspended vs. SVG), *Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz/LIE), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht/NED), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER).
*Carrying yellow cards.
Note: Roster consists of 13 players from MLS, 10 from teams in Europe and three from teams in Mexico.

19 comments about "USMNT: Loss of Dempsey and Zardes complicates matters".
  1. David Mont, August 29, 2016 at 10:09 a.m.

    It's kind of hard to seriously talk about matters being complicated when we're playing against St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago at home.

  2. Rusty Welch, August 29, 2016 at 11:18 a.m.

    Beckerman again? And Fabian again out of position as a defender? How about we leave Beckerman where he belongs (in MLS), get Fabian into midfield (especially w/Bradley out), and maybe include a player like Julian Green? Also, Wondo has been great in MLS, never much success in international competition.... just saying.

  3. David Mont, August 29, 2016 at 12:39 p.m.

    And why would you want to include Julian Green? What has he done?

  4. Rusty Welch replied, August 30, 2016 at 12:54 p.m.

    David -
    Can you name another U.S. player other than Green that has earned the right to be in the 1st 25 at Bayern Munich? I can't. He deserves a shot at playing - it takes a lot more to do what he's done than to occupy a roster spot in MLS. When you have guys on the top teams IN THE WORLD then they probably have earned a chance at playing - that's the future, not Wondo, and I'd bet you that training with one of the best teams on the planet is much more beneficial than playing in the kick-it-long, no shape turnover-plagued MLS.

  5. Wooden Ships, August 29, 2016 at 12:49 p.m.

    Deserves the call up? At what expense? JK is an enigma. Beckerman, Wondo, great guys but this isn't suppose to be about cronyism. Deserve? How about Fabian playing where he's best, he's deserved it. How about switching the Captains band, that's deserved. How about our players playing friendlies versus better than Cuba, New Zealand, Peurto Rico, they deserve it. Sorry New Zealand. What will we learn from the October friendlies? The roster spots are finite, each should be filled by candidates leading into the Hex, fingers crossed, and Russia. The young guns don't need senior mentor ship. IMO.

  6. Allan Lindh, August 29, 2016 at 1:13 p.m.

    We have a back line. We have midfielders, but no proper #10, or #6 either. (Move Cameron to holding mid, Brooks and Besler/Birnbaum at Center BAck). And no proper forwards. This team is getting weaker, and yet Klinsmann isn't held to account.

  7. Wooden Ships replied, August 29, 2016 at 2:06 p.m.

    It might be interesting with Wood and Morris up top, yeah we rarely use two forwards anymore. But their pressure and Pulisic, Bedoya, Nagbe, with possibly Cameron or another holding mid providing service and making runs could be entertaining. I prefer, and so would he, Fabian in the mid. All these guys, Morris is learning, know how to move off the ball and open up spaces, as well as being crisp with their passing.

  8. Rick Taylor, August 29, 2016 at 4:18 p.m.

    I'm not a NYRB fan, but must admit that Sacha Kljestan should get another look to replace Bradley. He has torn it up as of late feeding balls forward to BWP. Imagine what Morris and Woods could do with that kind of service. Love Wondo, but it is time for him to hang it up internationally and make room for somebody younger. What ever happened to Aron Johannsson anyway?

  9. Wooden Ships replied, August 29, 2016 at 4:22 p.m.

    He's in camp, suppose to be and you're right he should be up there with Wood. He doesn't have the engine the others do but he is the more traditional combination forward.

  10. Wooden Ships replied, August 29, 2016 at 4:30 p.m.

    I guess not Rick, I thought I heard he was called in. I guess Jozy is new and improved.

  11. Wooden Ships replied, August 29, 2016 at 5:56 p.m.

    Again I'm confused. We want our players playing abroad (JK's position and mostly mine) and Aaron is in the Bundesliga, playing. How does Wondo trump that?

  12. R2 Dad, August 29, 2016 at 7:54 p.m.

    This is not football manager. For almost all of these players, their main goal is to get a cap and avoid injury. We don't need our best 11, we need good MLS journeymen. This is exactly the opposition I want Wondo and Beckermann to be playing against.

  13. Wooden Ships replied, August 29, 2016 at 9:17 p.m.

    R2, I have no idea what Football manager is. If its software or some fantasy construct, I'm sure I predate it. I understand your view, but disagree. When do you propose to play our best in a meaningful test? Mexico, if we win the next two. Cuba and New Zealand is when you would start?Get the players ready, together, that will be making the run up to Russia, not to forget the hex first. Assuming we win these two with journeymen, aside from advancing, how is that helping the roster moving forward?

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, August 30, 2016 at 2:46 a.m.

    Wooden Ships, I see the same problems you do. As the USSF-anointed change bringer, Klinsmann has been a disappointment so far. Will the team build on this summer's success or regress to last year's mediocrity? I wish both coach and team success.

  15. R2 Dad replied, August 30, 2016 at 8:54 a.m.
    I think you're forgetting that JK doesn't care about CONCACAF--the difference in opponent playing style, the fields, the environment--they're all much worse than European standards. Do you calibrate your team to dominate CONCACAF and survive UEFA or visa versa?

  16. trebor gt, August 30, 2016 at 9:14 a.m.

    Bob, I agree with you and Ships. I was dismayed to see the "old guard" on the roster again. Beckerman whom I like, should move on - too old and too slow to compete. He was atrociously outplayed in the Copa. Bradley has been at a minimum inconsistent, at a maximum awful for some time now. Wondo is only worth his salt in the box and that's a 80/20 chance against a goal resulting. This is the right opportunity and right competition to play the young players. JK is making decisions based on fear of blowing qualifiers so he falls back on what he knows. I have concerns about Altidore as well. Though he seems to be fit again and playing well enough in Toronto, I think it is more about who is around him than it is about him. He'll suffice in these games but longer term I'd be looking elsewhere. Why isn't Gooch getting a look?

  17. Wooden Ships replied, August 30, 2016 at 3:11 p.m.

    Trebor, is not Gooch eligible for another country or two besides the US, or I'm thinking of someone else? He might have deferred for the moment, trying to decide who to cap with. I'm with you on Jozy, his abilities-instincts were realized a few years back, there isn't anymore upside expected. Unfortunately for him he also is a chronic injury player, that won't change. I don't mean this in a mean spirited way, but after his next pull or strain or similar, JK needs to let go. We are trying to take those next steps in moving forward and JK seems to have a drag deployed to slow it down. MB too has peaked and has been in decline for awhile now, nor is he the Captain needed. There are several players, clearly, more effective today.

  18. trebor gt, August 30, 2016 at 6:05 p.m.

    Ships, good question I should probably know this but is a USMNT U-20 capped for the other age groups? Gooch was a U-20 for the US. Irish mom, English Dad, American born and raised (what a combo!).

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, August 30, 2016 at 11:42 p.m.

    Players can apply to change countries if they have only competed at the youth level. A cap with the senior team is final.

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