- A member of the U.S. squad that reached the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final
- One of seven players to start all five games during the USA’s run to the final of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, his 11 appearances in 2009 nearly doubled his career total
- Vastly experienced at the youth level, he represented the USA during the U-17 World Cup in 2003, the U-20 World Cup in 2005 and Olympic qualifying in 2008
- Became the youngest American to play for Manchester United’s first team after being signed in September 2003 at the age of 17
CHICAGO (March 2, 2014) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called Birmingham City defender Jonathan Spector into training camp in advance of the USA’s friendly against Ukraine on March 5 in Cyprus. The roster now includes 22 players, who will train Monday in Frankfurt, Germany, before departing the following day.
The versatile veteran can play a variety of positions on the back line. He has a chance to make his first appearance for the MNT since the historic 1-0 victory against Italy on Feb. 29, 2012, in Genoa.
The USA-Ukraine match was previously set to be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine, but the location was changed due to current conditions in the country. Kickoff at Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca is set for 2 p.m. ET (9 p.m. local), and the match will be broadcast on ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas and ESPN Deportes Radio. Fans can also follow the match live on Twitter @ussoccer.
The match falls on the only FIFA international fixture date before May, making this the one opportunity for European-based players to play for the National Team prior to the start of the World Cup preparation camp. The team began gathering in Frankfurt on Sunday, March 2, for two days of training before traveling to play for the first time in Cyprus.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Southampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (7): John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Oguchi Onyewu (Sheffield Wednesday), Will Packwood (Birmingham City), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Barnsley), Danny Williams (Reading)
FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (Utrecht), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar)
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector is putting together his busiest season to date since playing in England. Before Spector joined Birmingham City, it was relegated to The Championship following the 2010-11 Premier League campaign. But Spector and the Blues are very much in the hunt to return to the top flight for 2012-13.
U.S. Men’s National Team defender Jonathan Spector is currently playing the most important role of his professional tenure in England. After several seasons of off-and-on playing time within the Premier League, Spector is a key component for a Birmingham City team that is enjoying a rousing run that has the team in prime position to return to England’s top flight.
Before Spector arrived to the Blues in August of last year, Birmingham had been relegated to The Championship. The team has been on a roll over the past two months, not losing a match since its 1-0 road loss on Dec. 19, 2011, to Crystal Palace. During the unbeaten stretch, the Blues have been 6-3-0 in league play and 8-4-0 overall to move into third place.
“We’ve been on a great run as of late,” Spector said. “We knew it was going to take a while to work our way up the table because we had a few games in hand because of the Europa League. We knew that we weren’t going to be in the hunt initially. Now we’re up to third, and I think we’re two points off automatic promotion, and six points off first place, which is a great spot to be in. But we also know there are teams behind us who are fighting to work their way up the table, as well.”
The 26-year-old Arlington Heights, Ill., native is seeing more playing time with Birmingham than he has during any other previous season at West Ham United or Manchester United. Spector has played in 25 league matches and 37 in all, earning the starting nod in every match. Before Saturday’s contest against Barnsley, the Blues still have 17 league games on the docket through April.
While Spector cannot predict where he could potentially fit in within the U.S. Men’s National Team under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann down the road, the consistent playing time bodes well for him.
“It’s just been beneficial for me individually in a sense that I’m playing week in and week out and having this run of games,” Spector said. “You’re bound to improve and sharpen up on certain things, which I’ve been able to do. In past seasons, whether it’s through injuries or just being in and out of the team, it certainly makes it more difficult. Fitness isn’t an issue for me with the number of games we’ve played. Within the team I’ve started more games than anyone else, and I feel great.”
Spector has enjoyed this sense of regular stability and his heightened role at Birmingham. Spector had some stretches over the previous five seasons at West Ham when he was a frequent contributor, but there were times within the Premier League when he had hoped to contribute much more.
“I’ve been in the Premier League for so many years but was not always playing consistently,” Spector said. “Injuries were a big part of that for a couple seasons when I was at West Ham and I had two surgeries that kept me out for lengthy periods of time unfortunately. With all the changes in management and things like that, there wasn’t a lot of stability. So I just felt it was time for me to move somewhere where I would play consistently. I’m certainly getting that this year.”
Spector is not used to being on this side of the promotion/relegation dynamic, but as long as Birmingham continues its torrid pace, his Championship tenure could be a brief one.
“It’s exciting being where we’re at,” Spector said. “We’re right on the coattails of promotion and first place in the league, and we’d love to be right up there at the end of the season. If we can win the automatic promotion, that would be great. At the very least, we expect a playoff spot.
“After playing in the Premier League for a number of years, the goal has always been to get back to that.”
Spector is well known for his versatility on the pitch. He started the season in the midfield, but as of late Spector has dropped to Birmingham’s back line, which has allowed only six goals in 15 regular-season home matches.
“I started off playing the season at center midfield, which I was really enjoying,” Spector said. “But Stephen Carr got injured for a lengthy period of time, so obviously I knew I’d be playing as a fullback. I have enjoyed playing there as of late. It’s a bit of a change from what my role was at the beginning of the season, but I have enjoyed playing as a fullback. It’s on the right side, as opposed to left back, where I played for an entire season a couple years ago with West Ham.”
There have been moments during Spector’s professional time in England where he has been more of a fallback option. But with Birmingham manager Chris Hughton’s side, Spector has been a go-to factor in the starting roster because of the adaptability he brings to the table.
“It’s not as if I’m changing [positions] week in and week out,” Spector said. “But I also think after playing in a position for a few games you grow into it and you get more accustomed to it initially. Your mindset has to change in terms of what your role is within the team. I just think I’m naturally suited for both roles, whether in the midfield or as a defender.”
Spector said that Blues supporters are certainly latching onto the promotion sentiment now that Birmingham is six points behind first-place West Ham and only two points behind second-place Southampton.
“At the start of the season, the fans didn’t have the same expectations as the players in the sense that the players all felt that we could achieve promotion in this first season,” Spector said. “The fans were slightly more cynical, and probably rightfully so with the number of changes at the club. But I think now the fans feel, after seeing our performance and the run we’ve been on, I think they feel that’s certainly something we can achieve as a club.”
CHICAGO (Sept. 29, 2011) â€” U.S. Menâ€™s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named a squad of 22 players to prepare for the upcoming friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador. The U.S. first hosts Honduras on Oct. 8 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer and Univision. Three days later, the U.S. makes its first appearance at Red Bull Arena when they welcome Ecuador to Harrison, N.J. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision. Fans can follow both matches live on ussoccer.comâ€™s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION -Â Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Timmy Chandler (NÃ¼rnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96),Â Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
â€œWe would like to continue seeing our players develop through these initial couple of months,â€ said Klinsmann. â€œOne important thing is to see continuity in the build-up of our national team and also in the way we work as coaches. We'd like to see new faces as well, but we also don't want to shake up the core structure of the team too much. The two results with Costa Rica and Belgium didn't work in our favor but we saw clearly that the team started to understand what we demand from them in terms of pace, playing style and how to play. We are definitely on the right path, and what we now need to focus on in this get together is the eagerness to finish things off up front.â€
All but three of the players on the roster have been in camp since Klinsmann took the helm in August. Two-time World Cup defender Oguchi Onyewu returns to the fold, along with Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, while Danny Williams get his first introduction into a U.S. camp. Born in Germany, the 21-year-old will be eligible to play for the United States after certifying his U.S. citizenship with the U.S. Consulate in Germany.
Tickets for USA-Honduras starting at $18Â are on sale through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout South Florida (including most Walmart stores), and the Sun Life Stadium ticket office (open Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
The U.S. and Honduras have met 17 times in the series dating back to 1965, with the U.S. collecting a 11-3-3 advantage. The teams have played several memorable matches, including the USAâ€™s stunning 3-2 victory on Oct. 10, 2009, in San Pedro Sula that sealed their place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Four days later, the United States earned a dramatic 2-2 draw against Costa Rica that delivered Honduras a spot in South Africa.
Personal – Lists his parents (Art and Rose) as his two biggest role models … Won the Kellogg’s Bowl and the Nike Cup Nationals with U.S. Soccer Development Academy club Sockers FC … Old Trafford in Manchester is his favorite stadium … Played trumpet in high school.
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