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Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, Omar Gonzalez headline USMNT squad for September World Cup qualifiers

With just four games remaining in the World Cup qualifying push, Bruce Arena didn’t produce any surprises ahead of a pair of vital September matches.

Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson and Bobby Wood headline the 26-man USMNT squad for the upcoming pair of World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras. The U.S. first hosts Los Ticos at Red Bull Arena on Sept. 1 before traveling to Honduras for a matchup with Los Caratchos four days later.

“I think we’re bringing in a good roster, one that has depth in every position and in which all 26 players have been with the National Team in 2017,” Arena said. “I think we have the right understanding as a group as to what needs to be done, and hopefully we can be successful in these next two games.”

The roster sees the return of a slew of European-based players following this summer’s Gold Cup. The CONCACAF tournament featured an MLS-heavy squad, one which included Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Darlington Nagbe, who return to lead the current roster.

Meanwhile, European-based players like Pulisic, Wood and Geoff Cameron return to the fold for the first time since June’s World Cup qualifying matches against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico. Johnson and Omar Gonzalez return to the team after recently overcoming injury issues while DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks miss out due to injuries of their own.

As things stand, the USMNT sits third in the Hexagonal standings, three points behind second-place Costa Rica and one point ahead of fourth-place Panama.

Here’s a closer look at the full USMNT squad for the upcoming qualifiers:

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC)

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER)


  1. I don´t understand, but Demarcus Beasley,almost 40 years ,Nick Rimando,near 40,wondo almost
    36,Dax Mac Carty, ,Villafaña always in the bench must not be in the USAMNT,there a young
    and hunger who could play,like the gooalkeaper Ethan Horvat,yesterday shine in the Brugge win,
    gyasy Zardes getting the ritm again,Justen Glad the 20 years Real South lake,Brokk Lennon
    of the same team,the new prospect of Koln in germany BRADY SCOTT, and many more,i think
    Bruce arena,is not confident in young players,they play like warriors,and i forgot Jesse
    González,and william yarbroug

  2. Formation decisions will be interesting, do they go 2 up top or 1and what about 3 in the back. I hope they keep CP on the outside cuz he his looking great for BVB so far. Wouldn’t mind seeing a 5 man midfield with CP and FJ ( if healthy) if not Arriola then and MB, Acosta and Nagbe a little bit farther up, but I would still like 2 up top with that midfield so would have to go 3 in the back. So I want Besler, Cameron and god help me Gonzalez at he back and Wood and altidore up top with Dempsey coming in in second half with the 5 midfielder I mentioned.

  3. This may be BAs toughest decision on who to start up top. Deuce has been lights out vs CR and is in form, Jozy scored again this week, and did anyone see Woods game? Not only scored a nice goal and played well.. in injury time he made a 50 yard lung busting sprint chasing a defender bringing the ball up the field that led to the turnover and subsequent counterattack that led to their 3rd goal… Dude ran like that for 98 minutes and was pressuring up high the whole game.. How do you keep him out of the lineup..

    • It’s simple, Wondolowski sucks! That’s how you keep him out of a must win game. The USMNT is playing a World Cup quarter finalist from three years ago not the LA Galaxy who are in the midst of injuries, suspensions and a coaching change. Ridiculous analysis of his play.

    • My fault, I am so blinded and shocked that damn Wondo is in this camp I can’t read. In 100% agreement that Wood should start.

    • I see at least two people wondering why Rowe was called in.

      I’m guessing the knee sprain that’s got him out 6-8 weeks has something to do with it.

      I could do without Wondo and Rimando, but neither is gonna play, and neither would anyone in place of them.

      There’s a lot to be said for roster continuity…there’s also a lot to be said for experience against CONCACAF competition which requires a bit of a different style of play than some players are used to. Lot of handwringing about TC, but he’s never adjusted well to the CONCACAF-style, IMO.

      And unfortunately we’re in a spot where a couple of regulars might have concerns about minutes. It’s hard to see FabJo going 90 in either of these games, and honestly, I’m thinking he won’t start in Honduras. I also have the sneaking suspicion he’s a candidate for fullback.

      Don’t forget about yellow card concerns. By my count the following players on this list are sitting on yellows: Bradley, Altidore, Cameron, Besler, Arriola and Bedoya.

      Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar to last window where there are significant lineup changes to guard against YCs. At least in that regard, this squad gives you both familiarity and flexibility.

      • Don’t think Fabian is a dark horse for RB, otherwise I think BA would have brought another wide mid, like Zardes for example.. Plus I don’t see him being a 90 minute player so soon after returning from injury.. then the travel & the heat..
        My guess is if there’s a plan C it would be Cam at RB.
        And yes, the 6 sitting on YCs is right.
        Which brings the question, if MB picks up a yellow vs Costa Rica, what does the lineup look like 3 days later…

  4. I think Arena called up guys he is comfortable with. Even with the various injuries, I don’t think this is the best 26 US players. Beasley and Rimando? Really? I can see that a couple of years ago, but both are way past their expiration date. The 3rd GK is highly unlikely to see the field, so he should have called in a younger player like Horvath. How do you not call in Chandler who has been outstanding last season and this in the Bundesliga? Yes, I know he has had problems in the past, but you need to at least bring him in and see him in practice. Lichaj was bad, no horrible in one of his starts in the GC and Roldan was a disappointment. One thing we have going is that with Altidore, Wood, Dempsey, and Pulisic, we have a lot of offensive strength, more than either of the 2 teams we will be playing. Maybe we can outscore them. BTW, Dempsey can go a full 90; he does it all the time with the Sounders, so do you use him vs. CR or save him for Honduras? I think the win over CR is more important, so you go with Altidore, Wood, Dempsey and Pulisic in maybe a 4-3-3 with Pulisic a CAM.

  5. Surprising roster? No! I wish he would have called in a few of the younger players but it’s understandable with qualifying coming to a close. Biggest fear is they qualify and feels obligated to keep some of these guys around to long and not give others a chance. I believe Arena said after the 06 WC that it’s a young man’s game. It does though give some up and comers time to stay with their club and become hopefully regular contributors since their seasons just started. Next few months should be interesting

  6. What we don’t know is if Chandler or Williams is even interested in playing for the national team anymore. Both have had at least allegedly turned down call ups.

    For Chandler, he does not play RB, I know RW in a 3-5-2 isn’t a drastic change, but he is required to play a very different role for Frankfurt than he would in a 4-4-2 for the US. Arena has said he wants guys playing the position they play for their club so that may factor as well.

    Williams is trying to earn consistent minutes with a new club, yes it is a break, but very few players from Huddersfield will be called away for national team duty, so training sessions will be important for a player like Williams (same could be said of Miazga and Wright). I didn’t see it but I had also heard that a position switch might also be going on for Williams so that might be a reason for him to want to stay in England this week.

    Hopefully, Bruce will address some of the reasons for players being left out. There is plenty of time to test out younger players in Europe should they earn those chances in November, March and next May.

    • The exclusion of Williams has a lot of people wanting to see him, but at least you had Jermaine getting called, and now you can play Bedoya inside, and McCarty is capable..
      But the drop off from Chandler to Zusi/Lichaj is very different than comparing Williams to other options.
      Chandler said after Bruce took over he was 100% on board etc…
      I’ve heard nothing different.
      And yes they played a 3 man backline to start this season but they played 4 in the back plenty last year also.
      At least a call up…to see for yourself..
      If Timmy made as many blunders as Lichaj did in that one game alone he’d have been permanently barred from any discussion….and blamed for every loss ever…
      Nobody has said they’re very confident about playing him, but when you look at the other options, how do you NOT play him…

      • Still plenty of time for that call up and evaluation to happen. There is a better time for that than during the two games that they can seal their plane ticket to Russia.

      • Don, I understand that sentiment, however though there may be plenty of time, there aren’t plenty of opportunities. 2 qualifiers and a limited number of Intl breaks before you’re looking at your 30 man roster.
        And let’s not forget, Zusi & Lichaj were playing in the Gold Cup vs. Concacaf B- to C+ teams at best.
        I agree with the other statements that now is not a time for experimentation with guys like McKennie, Wright, Gooch etc. Because we still have to qualify. I hope there’s a gem out there that will come out of nowhere.. like a Beasley or even a Green… Youth speed etc. that appears late in the cycle.
        But geez, we’re talking about 2 guys with questionable performances against weak concacaf competition vs a BL starter playing the best soccer of his career

      • Understood that Chandler is easily the better player between him, Zusi, and Lichaj. But this is not an exercise where you put the best 11 players down on paper and put them against the other teams best 11 on paper. This is a cut throat environment that will require two team performances. For whatever reason, Chandler has not been a part of this team recently, and integrating him at such an important time would be dicey. Given his experience building successful teams, I give the benefit of the doubt to the Bruce.

  7. I remember JK once said one of the reasons for him not taking the US job the first time before the Bob bradley era was that he wasnt given complete control of roster selection which implies US Soccer has or had a significant imfluence on who gets called up. Ultimately JK signed and US Soccer ahreed to give him that control in their second round of negotiations after the Bradley era. Perhaps we are back to the former setup with the US Soccer influence on Arena.

    No Chandler call up is diabolical. Starting Lichaj or Zusi over Chandler for either of tbese WC qualifiers in which we sit 3rd currently is neglection of duty and fireable imo.

    Roldon, Zusi, and Wondo are ridiculous callups. McCarty, Hedges, and Morris are questionable too. No Chandler, no Danny Williams.

    It feels like Don Garber is picking our national team call ups for the benefit of promoting MLS.

    You could argue Fransico Torres and dare I say Jonathon Bornstein even Orazco are more deserving of call ups give there starts in LigaMx than Roldon or Zusi. Alfredo Morales has more than 20 Bundesliga starts and over a thousand Bundesliga minutes, what gives. Sacha Klesjtan has the third most Champions League minutes after Jones and Beasley among active players but was completely wasted by three managers now.

    F–ck, Zusi is going to be our starting Rb for a WC qualifier we must win.

    • Torres hardly plays or even makes the bench for Tigres anymore, Orozco hasn’t dressed the last two weeks for either league or cup matches so that would suggest some sort of injury. Kljestan played in the Champions League three years ago and has one goal and five assists for Red Bulls this year which is not very good numbers for CAM.

      • Good catch soccerway must not have updated their assists or maybe its MLS’s counting of hockey assists.

      • I looked it up MLS is counting the hockey assist(assists for the pass that leads to the pass that scores a goal) which is how they give Sasha 12 assists, the rest of the world only gives him credit for 5. was the only site I could find that credits him with 12.

    • Was this your position on things when Klinsmann refused to call in Chandler for a lack of heart and not seemingly wanting to be apart of the US set up after he verbalized his fear of flying and dislike of playing in the heat of Honduras?? Williams could barely get games under JK as well, i remember it, i was one of those fans that ranted about it but i’ve grown to understand what these process are about, thus the more informed comments. My point is it’s not racist, not the fault of US Soccer, nor is it because they are German born, otherwise Chandler wouldn’t have gotten call ups two other times. People need to read the exerpt again where Arena states why these players are not in the team right now!

  8. Which BL teams would start Zusi or Lichaj at RB?
    Which BL teams would carry Zusi or Lichaj at backup RB?
    Wondos form has never carried over to the Nats but he gets called in-but the others at his spot are Wood Jozy Deuce and Morris.
    Chandler – the same, but Zusi or Lichaj? Especially considering Chandler is in his prime and is playing really really good…Top half of RBs in the BL, led the BL last year with 119 crosses, Frankfurt considers him a “stalwart” in their D….
    This was the perfect time to at least bring him in and take a look for yourself Bruce…locking him out from now is a stupid move. Yea Fabian can go back to RB, meaning our wide bench players are Bedoys and Arriola.
    Yea you can play Cam there…and take away our best CB.
    I like Bruce but this is a stupid move…

      • Frankfurt played 4 in the back plenty last year and it was Chandlers best season..he even moved inside a few times when they had injuries.
        So far this year they’ve played a 3 man backline exclusively.
        Either way, he’s way better than Zusi or Lichaj…

      • Yea… and Zusi isn’t even a defender, but only recently started learning the position for the US Nats. Only in fantasy land could anyone justify not bringing Chandler if one’s main concern is fielding the best possible players. I like Zusi and would be actually be ok making Chandler work for it and being a backup, but how could you not even call him in to take a look?

    • no, the priority is qualifing with a group that your accustomed to and know can get the job done, not calling plaers whom you haven’t seen up close and know if they’ll fit in with th eteam right now. There will be plenty of opportunities for Williams and Chandler to show their worth with all of the post qualifying friendlies at the end of this year and in ’18, so all is not lost!

      • Like I said, at least with Williams you have other legit options.
        Chandler was called in for the last round of qualifying and had to withdraw with a hamstring injury. What’s the difference between the previous 2 games and these 2 that would warrant a level of unfamiliarity with Chandler?
        Not to mention that against weak concacaf b or c teams Zusi was average at best and aside from the goal Lichaj was awful..

  9. This roster continues to show Bruces biggest fault….He continues to call up players who are not equal to the task strictly for the fact that they are Veterans.
    Rimando – Continues to be a joke of a selection. Any number of Young Keepers are as good/better. Horvath, Hamid, Gonzalez, Steffen….give them a chance to become part of the pool already.
    Beasley – As much as I have been a fan of DMB this is insane. I realize that he’s a veteran with loads of experience, but come on. Call up Garza or someone else.
    Hedges – had a very poor GC against weak CONCACAF opponents. I see no reason to believe that he’ll do any better against the likes of CR. Would have preferred to see Miazga get the call.
    Bedoya – was poor during the GC and has not been particularly good at the club level. Another prime chance to bring in younger options….Rowe, Gooch, etc…
    McCarty – Another player who showed poorly during the GC. Should have seen Williams given a look or maybe J. Gonzalez. Dax isn’t worthy of a roster spot.
    Roldan – Didn’t really show well in the GC, but wasn’t bad either. I’ve got less issue with his inclusion strictly from the fact he’s at least youngish and versatile. Still there are better options within the pool.
    Wondo – This is just insane. Wondo has been and will remain crap at the international level. There are any number of players who would have been better options….Dwyer, ArJo, Gooch, Wright. There is no reason to continue to call up a 35 yr old 5th string striker. NONE.

    I’m tired os seeing these types of players constantly called up by Bruce. If we never give young players a chance to train/integrate into the team we’re going to see these types of worthless players as part of the WC team next year.

    • All spot on. Not even mentioning that Zusi is horrendous, Horvath should be starting over Howard/Guzan, etc. I don’t care these old guys have “been through it before” and are veterans. It does not matter. Keep avoiding incorporating new kids who are already better and have much higher ceilings, and we will be stuck with this exact squad come WC18. Which is exactly what will happen.

      • Not the time to incorporate new faces… Get the job done in these two games, and then there should be a chance to loosen up a little bit. The task that Bruce was given always called for steady, experienced players to get the job done. It’s not his fault the program was in train wreck status when he took back over.

    • That is the most detailed nonsense postI’ve seen on soccer by Ives. I might cut some slack on the Beasley comment, but all the others are simply naive and wrong.

      • Ironic that you talked about nonsense replies yet proceeded to defend Rimando and Wondolowski. Rimando is an average MLS keeper on his absolute best days, and Wondolowski’s name is now used to describe someone who misses a 5 yard sitter.
        I seriously suggest you scale back the hyperbole.

      • ironyank – Rimando is the 3rd strong keeper. He ain’t seeing the field, or the bench for that matter. He’s there for other reasons. Wondo is a very good poacher and very intelligent with his runs in the box. He’s proven year after year that he can score goals. If he’s sees the field, it will probably be in a specific scenario where we need a goal and where we will have lots of attacking personnel on the field and will need him in the box. Get over the Belgium miss. It happens, and it wasn’t a “sitter” in the first place.

      • If Rimando won’t even see the field then blooding a younger keeper in a competitive camp would be more beneficial to the long term.
        Wondo has scored 11 goals in 35 international appearances.
        3 against Belize and Cuba
        2 against Guatemala and South Korea
        1 against Mexico
        He’s a flat track bully who has had the occasional good international appearance. In no way am I belittling his MLS scoring record; in fact I’d call it fairly prolific, but league play doesn’t always translate to the world stage. Look at England, Holland, and to some extent Belgium. They all suffer.
        I think my biggest gripe is with the tired “Once we get past this round THEN we can select ________ players.” excuse. Arena was brought in to steady the ship through the qualifying but I don’t think he is the way forward.
        Any thoughts as to any good suggestions? I’d love Gulati to poach Wagner from Huddersfield or even try to get Enrique or Tuchel, who are both out of work.

    • Klinsmann called in a lot of these same faces, and there is a reason for it. He even started wondo vs freakin Argentina in a semifinal, so please stop the insane rants, we need to qualify not worry about peoples feelings smh

  10. howard; lichaj, besler (i have choose one) , cameron, villafana; bradley, nagbe, pulisic, Johnson; wood and dempsey

    • Yes, pretty depressing. But might as well get used to it for the next year. The entire roster is old, tired, static, and just not very good.

      Don’t care Timmy C has been poor in multiple performances with USMNT. He is many times better than Zusi, who will be starting. McKennie should be here. Horvath should be starting. I know nothing about this young kid starting in Mexico, but he should be in. Danny Williams.

      But again, this is Bruce, so we just gotta bend over and take it. Just follow the kids abroad and get excited for the next cycle with a new coach. Cuz there legit nothing happening here besides the same thing that happened 4 and 8 years ago. Same players, just older and not nearly as good, with a coach determined to continue using them.

      • dude, McKinnie hasn’t even started a game at a level higher than 4th division in Germany. Let the guy settle there and prove himself. He’s played all of about 40 minutes of first division football.

      • “I know nothing about this young kid starting in Mexico, but he should be in.”

        Ok, we are all excited to see the young generation push out the old guard but lets take a moment to realize that Costa Rica and at Honduras will be very difficult opponents and a trip to World Cup is on the line!

  11. With 26 men being brought in is Bruce setting up two different line ups again? The extra men make sense given FJ and Omar’s recent returns from injury to have extra cover.

    Biggest Surprises: Wondo over Zardes, Roldan over Rowe, Rimando over Hamid (None really hugely surprising)

    Biggest Questions: Who starts at RB? Where does CP play?


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