As we wait for Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster call-ups for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala, the USMNT boss has given us a few names — albeit mostly obvious ones — in an interview on USSoccer.com.
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Klinsmann says injured striker Jozy Altidore is coming with the team, while implying that usual obvious choices Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson and John Brooks will join red-hot Bobby Wood on the squad.
He also mentions players we haven’t seen in a while — or at all — as on his radar despite long-term injuries.
“We have players that are injured a bit longer than we thought. We feel for them, but we are also waiting for them, players like Terrence Boyd, like Joe Gyau, like Josh Gatt, or even Aron Johannsson out for a couple months. These players are not forgotten. They play a wider role in building our group, our core, for 2018 in Russia. So hopefully they get back on track as quickly as possible. But in the short run, like a hamstring with Jozy, we will manage it, we will make the best out of it, but it has an effect on the roster. There’s no doubt about it.”
To be fair to Klinsmann, that’s a good portion of an entire generation of potentially-impactful U.S. attackers there. Molde winger Gatt is back running after a third knee surgery in September, while the promising Gyau hasn’t played for the U.S. since tearing a meniscus against Ecuador in October 2014. Boyd had a small setback in his recovery when he had a cyst removed from his knee last month.
Wins in both matches will assure the States a spot in the Hex, which begins in November and will include six CONCACAF sides battling for three automatic berths in the 2018 World Cup (plus one inter-continental playoff berth versus Asia’s fifth-place side).
The U.S. is level on points with Trinidad and Tobago but leading on goal differential after a win against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and a draw with T&T. Those latter two will play twice in the same window, and T&T will be expected to win both.
The States beat and drew Guatemala in the third round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, but needed to sweat out the round after entering the final match day with advancement in question. Klinsmann knows the challenge ahead in Guatemala City (March 25) before the home leg in Columbus four days later.