Jurgen Klinsmann has named his 23-man squad as the U.S. national team being 2018 World Cup qualifying next week.
Darlington Nagbe received his first call-up for the U.S. national team for these qualifiers, as the Portland Timbers attacker was born in Liberia but is now eligible to play for the U.S. after becoming a citizen in September. Nagbe, 25, scored five goals and added five assists during the 2015 Major League Soccer regular season to help lead the Timbers to the playoffs.
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Young central defender Matt Miazga, a product of the new York Red Bulls who has impressed in his debut MLS season and with the U.S. U-23 side, is just 20-years-old and this is also his first call-up to the full national team.
“Those are two players that have been on our radar for a long time,” Klinsmann revealed. “Matt is a youngster coming through our system. He played for the Under-20’ and he played for the Olympic team. In Darlington Nagbe we have a player who we’ve been following for quite a while and he finally became eligible for the United States. We are looking forward to having them with us. They will get their first taste of the senior national team. I’m pretty sure they will be excited and want to do well. It’s good to see that we have players coming through and give us more of an option.”
A star name to not be called up was Clint Dempsey, as Klinsmann has taken the chance to have a look at the younger forwards in his pool of players. John Brooks has also been left out as the German-American center back has played just four times for Hertha Berlin this season so far. Other players missing through injury include Nick Rimando, Brad Evans and Alejandro Bedoya.
“At this point in time, I want to give the younger strikers a chance to prove themselves and this is a good stage to do it,” Klinsmann said of his decision to omit Dempsey. “I communicated with Clint about it and it’s all fine.”
Premier League quartet Geoff Cameron, Brad Guzan, Tim Howard and DeAndre Yedlin were all included, as was LA Galaxy veteran Alan Gordon. Fabian Johnson was included in the squad as an issue between him and Klinsmann seems to have been cleared up. The Borussia Monchengladbach winger was sent home halfway through the last international break after Klinsmann publicly accused him of not battling through in an injury during the final stages of the CONCACAF Cup defeat to Mexico.
“We’re all excited about starting World Cup qualifying toward Russia 2018. Every time you say the words ‘World Cup’ it means so much to everyone involved that it gets you pumped up and energetic,” Klinsmann said. “The players realize it is going to be a long marathon towards Russia 2018 but we have to start it on the right foot. With St. Vincent and the Grenadines and obviously Trinidad and Tobago are good teams, especially Trinidad and Tobago who proved it at the last Gold Cup.”
The U.S. face St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis on Friday Nov. 13 and then travel to Trinidad and Tobago to face the Soca Warriors on Nov. 17.
Below is the squad in full for the two World Cup qualifiers as the Road to Russia 2018 officially begins.
USMNT squad in full
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid, Tim Howard
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Matt Miazga, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Brek Shea
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Darlington Nagbe, DeAndre Yedlin, Miguel Ibarra
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Alan Gordon, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes