Holden called up for USA qualifier

MIAMI - Houston midfielder Stuart Holden has been rewarded for his excellent performances in the Gold Cup with a place in the United States squad for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier away to Mexico.

Holden has not previously featured in a World Cup qualifier and unlike the vast majority of the 20-man squad selected by head coach Bob Bradley did not play in the team that reached the Confederations Cup final in June.

The blond-haired Holden, who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland and was a youth player with English club Sunderland, has been in outstanding form in Major League Soccer this season and could be in contention to start at the Azteca Stadium.

Over 100,000 fans are expected to attend the game as Mexico, fourth in the CONCACAF qualifying group for North and Central America and the Caribbean, look to defend their unbeaten record at the Azteca against the U.S.

"We are excited about the challenge and the opportunity," said Bradley.

"Mexico are a very good team, and we are all aware of their great success playing in Mexico City. Every game in qualifying is important, and this is a chance to gain further ground in the group.

"Our team continually tries to raise the bar, and certainly the chance to win for the first time in Mexico is a welcome opportunity."

The top three in the six-team group qualify automatically for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with the side that finishes fourth playing off against the fifth-placed South American team for another berth at the finals.

Costa Rica lead the group on 12 points followed by the U.S. with 10 and Honduras on seven, a point ahead of Mexico.

Mexico beat the U.S 5-0 in last month's Gold Cup final but the Americans played a second-string side in that tournament although the Mexicans were also without several key players.

Bradley has left Benfica attacking midfielder Freddy Adu out of the squad to face Mexico and has opted for Jose Francisco Torres in that role.

Texas-born Torres, a joint U.S-Mexican citizen, plays in the Mexican league for Pachuca.


Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton).

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Stade Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hanover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United).

Midfielders: Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca).

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Charlie Davies (Sochaux), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy).