March 18, U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called up 23 players to prepare for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. Nine of those players currently play in MLS.
The U.S. will face Costa Rica at sold-out Dick's Sporting Goods Park on March 22 at 10 p.m. ET, broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN and UniMas. As part of the event, U.S. Soccer is hosting a Pep Rally on March 21 at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Denver. After losing to Honduras on Feb. 6, Costa Rica is a must-win.
Four days later, the USA battles rival Mexico at Estadio Azteca, where the U.S. won an historic victory last August. The Mexico game kicks off at 10 p.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN, WatchESPN and Univision beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Young players need to step up
Although many injuries are affecting the U.S. squad and all-time leading goalscorer Landon Donovan is on sabbatical, the team cannot be written off. Clint Dempsey, who played in all seven qualifying matches, has six goals in World Cup qualifying in this cycle and 11 overall, second place on the USA's all-time list. Eddie Johnson has 10 career goals in qualifying to his credit, tied for third all-time with Brian McBride.
Jozy Altidore tallied 18 goals in league play and 25 in all competitions for AZ Alkmaar this season. Herculez Gomez is also tearing it up for Santos, with nine goals in all competitions and he scored a pair during the Semifinal Round.
Time Howard's back-up goalkeeper Brad Guzan has three shutouts in five qualifying matches in his career and has been playing well at Aston Villa.
"Obviously there are many players out with injuries, and that means the next person in line has a chance to step up," said Klinsmann.
Injured USMNT players include Edgar Castillo (facial fractures), Timmy Chandler (hamstring), Steve Cherundolo (knee), Tim Howard (back), Fabian Johnson (hip), Jonathan Spector (ankle), Jose Torres (hamstring) and Danny Williams (illness).
Four players are carrying yellow cards: Michael Bradley, Dempsey, Maurice Edu and Graham Zusi.
U.S. ROSTER (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa - 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire - 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake - 0/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake - 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City - 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City - 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy - 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby - 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes - 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla - 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake - 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma - 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana - 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor - 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 - 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht - 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City - 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City - 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar - 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna - 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur - 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos - 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC - 12/10)