In-form Altidore returns as USMNT looks to advance in World Cup qualifying
Jurgen Klinsmann has called in 19 of the 23 players from the United States men’s national team’s Copa America roster to help secure passage to the final round of World Cup qualifying.
The U.S. men’s national team travels to St. Vincent & The Grenadines on Sept. 2 and hosts Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 6 to wrap up the penultimate round of qualifying. Trinidad and Tobago currently leads Group C with 10 points; the U.S. sits in second on 7 points, with Guatemala one point behind.
Forward Jozy Altidore returns to the fray after missing Copa America with a hamstring injury. Altidore has five goals in his last eight games since returning for Toronto FC, including a four-game scoring streak in August.
Notably absent from the upcoming U.S. camp is veteran Clint Dempsey, who is undergoing medical evaluations for an irregular heartbeat and is currently unavailable for Seattle Sounders FC. Gyasi Zardes was also omitted from the roster due to an injury sustained with the LA Galaxy on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones is in camp with the U.S. and could play if need be. Jones hasn’t played for the Colorado Rapids since July 4 due to a knee injury.
“Our message for players coming into this camp for the two World Cup qualifiers is very clear: approach it with a lot of urgency,” Klinsmann said. “It’s not easy to go into those Caribbean countries and get the results, so it’s not going to be easy in St. Vincent on a very difficult field with heat and whatever else to get the goals as quickly as possible. We’ve got to be patient, but we have to play with urgency and determination in our approach.”
A pair of victories in the final two matches would secure passage to the final round – the “Hexagonal” – of qualifying. The top two teams from each of the three groups advance, with the top three finishers in that final round advancing to Russia 2018 and the fourth-place finisher headed to an intercontinental playoff.
The U.S. could only clinch advancement on Sept. 2 with a victory and a Trinidad & Tobago victory over Guatemala.
If the U.S. men finish atop the group, which likely will require a pair of victories, they would face Mexico at home on Nov. 11 in the first round of the Hexagonal. Mexico has already advanced to the next round by clinching Group A.
Michael Bradley (yellow-card accumulation) and Michael Orozco (red card in Copa America third-place game) are suspended for the U.S.’ road match against St. Vincent & The Grenadines and will join the team in Jacksonville, Fla., for the second match.
Paul Arriola, Caleb Stanko and Rubio Rubin are in camp to gain experience and not expected to play in either match, per a U.S. Soccer spokesman.
USMNT’s latest roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
DEFENDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)