Jozy Altidore, celebrating Toronto FC’s Supporters Shield Saturday night, was called into the U.S. national team for WCQ. (Kevin Sousa/USA TODAY Sports)
CHICAGO — Tim Howard. Geoff Cameron. Michael Bradley. Christian Pulsiic. Jozy Altidore. And Clint Dempsey.
In other words, there were very few surprises as head coach Bruce Arena Sunday called in familiar names and a veteran roster for the U.S.’s final two World Cup qualifiers for the CONCACAF hexagonal. Arena summoned 26 players into camp.
The only newcomers to the WCQ camp was New England Revolution midfielder Juan Agudelo, a former Red Bull who has has played internationally but never participated in a qualifier, and Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber. Midfielder Fabian Johnson was left out of the squad.
With two games remaining in the final round, the U.S. holds its destiny in its own hands and has positioned itself to advance for its eighth consecutive World Cup. Wins at home against Panama and away to last-place Trinidad & Tobago would virtually guarantee a spot in Russia 2018.
“It’s a roster we’ve selected that we believe will give us success in these next two games. We have a pretty balanced roster with experienced players,” Arena said in a statement. “The players always give the commitment, that’s never an issue. The issue is whether we get the results we need, and I think we’re positioned to do that. I think if it comes down to where we need four or six points in our last two games, I think that’s fine and we’ll get it done.”
The USA-Panama games kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET from Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Friday [ESPN2, Univision, UDN).
Four days later, the U.S. can secure a berth in the World Cup in the final match of the Hex against Trinidad & Tobago. Coverage on Oct. 10 from Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET (beIN SPORT, UNIVERSO).
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 15/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 37/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 35/6), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 12/1), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 24/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 16/0), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana/MEX; 6/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 6/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 4/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; (8/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 20/3)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 5/0),Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 0/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 5/1), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 9/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 38/7), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City; 6/0), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 9/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 11/5), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 4/1)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 39/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 41/18), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 12/4)