Christian Pulisic is back with the U.S. national team. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
In what is the strongest national team in more than year for the U.S., head coach Gregg Berhalter called in several experienced hands and familiar names for two international friendlies this month.
The 24-month roster released Tuesday included center back Omar Gonzalez, midfielders Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley and forward Jordan Morris, who was called in the first time since injuries kept him sidelined for the past year.
The only weak spot is forward, where the players have combined for 15 international goals.
There are plenty of familiar names on the roster.
There are are two current New York City FC players — goalkeeper Sean Johnson and forward Jonathan Lewis — and Red Bulls center back Aaron Long.
Besides Bradley, there also were three former Red Bulls (MetroStars) players on the squad — defender Tim Ream and Matt Miazga and midfielder Tyler Adams.
Missing from the roster were two promising young players who have made their names in Europe — forwards Tim Weah, formerly of B.W. Gottschee, who is playing in Scotland, and Josh Sargent, who is performing in Germany.
The team will gather in Orlando Sunday with games against Ecuador March 21 at Orlando City Stadium, then vs. defending South American champion Chile at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston March 26. Both matches will be shown live at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, UniMas and UDN.
“Our goal is to keep making progress. Building on the themes of last camp, building on the style of play of last camp, but also now evaluating a new group of players,” Berhalter said. “We made progress in the first camp and it’s now asking if we can take it to another level. When we are done with this camp, it’s important that we have a good idea of our strongest group of players heading into the Gold Cup.”
Fourteen players on the roster were part of the month-long January Camp, steeping themselves in the team culture and style of play. With a shorter window and two challenging opponents, familiarity equals opportunity when it comes to building on the foundation established against Panama and Costa Rica.
“We thought it was important to tie some of the themes of last camp into this next camp and to have some consistency in the personnel made a lot of sense,” Berhalter said. “Again, we still think we’re able to evaluate a new group of players and we think that is going to be valuable as we move into the Gold Cup.”
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge, BEL; 3/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 6/0), Zac Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 8/0)
DEFENDERS (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg, GER; 36/3), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas, MEX; 48/3), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 4/0), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 2/0), Matt Miazga (Reading, ENG; 11/1), Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG; 26/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, ENG; 57/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, GER; 9/1), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, CAN; 143/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 7/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke, GER; 7/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, GER; 23/9), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 7/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 13/0)
FORWARDS (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 19/3), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 2/0), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 2/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 25/5), Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 42/6)