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)
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.