CHICAGO (Aug. 14, 2008) — U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named an initial 17-player roster that will travel to face Guatemala on Aug. 20 in the USA’s first match of the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Kickoff at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City is set for 8 p.m. MT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
All 17 players were part of the roster that handed Barbados an 8-0 defeat in the first leg of Second Round qualifying on June 15 at The Home Depot Center. Additionally, all six of the USA’s goalscorers in the Barbados series – Michael Bradley, Brian Ching (2), Clint Dempsey (2), Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Eddie Lewis - will be on hand. The team will gather in Miami beginning on Sunday, Aug. 17, and will depart for Guatemala City the following day. Bradley will add an 18th player to the roster prior to the team gathering in Miami.
“We are excited to begin the next phase of qualifying,” Bradley said. “There are no easy games, and we know that Guatemala is a very difficult team to play against at home. It’s important that we start off the semifinal round in a positive way, and we are confident the work from the last 18 months has prepared us for the task.”
Donovan, who became the fourth youngest male player in history to reach 100 caps when he went 90 minutes on June 8 against Argentina, leads the roster with 21 all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. His eight career goals in World Cup qualifying are also a team best, tied with Johnson. Lewis is the second-leading capwinner in qualifying on the roster (19), while Frankie Hejduk is taking part in his fourth qualifying campaign. U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra makes his first appearance for the U.S. since switching clubs this summer, having signed with French side Rennes following his month-long tour on national team duty.
Tim Howard returns to the U.S. fold after missing out on both World Cup qualifiers against Barbados due to a back injury. The Everton-based goalkeeper boasts 18 career wins and 11 shutouts in 31 appearances at the full international level. Newly transferred Aston Villa ‘keeper Brad Guzan performed admirably in his stead, earning two straight shutouts against Barbados. Guzan is coming off an outstanding performance at the 2008 Olympic Games, earning Sierra Mist Man of the Match in the gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to Nigeria that eliminated the squad from the tournament.
Three other players from the Olympic roster link up with the full team. Sacha Kljestan recorded goals in China, while Maurice Edu served admirably in central defense. Since the summer of 2007, midfielder Michael Bradley has appeared in four international tournaments at both the youth and full national team levels.
Bob Bradley deploys a backline with growing experience as a unit, the collection of Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu and Heath Pearce having started together against Poland, England, Spain and Barbados in 2008. Onyewu is in the midst of third round qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, having dueled English Premier League stalwarts Liverpool to a 0-0 draw on Aug. 13 in Liege. Last season, Onyewu helped marshal Standard de Liege to their first Belgian League title in 25 years.
The U.S. is 10-4-5 lifetime against Guatemala and is currently riding a six-match shutout streak against the Chapines. The teams have met eight times overall in World Cup qualifying play, with the U.S. holding an unbeaten 4-0-4 mark in the series. During the final round hexagonal in 2005, the U.S. won the home meeting 2-0 in Birmingham, Ala., on goals by Steve Ralston and Eddie Johnson. The teams’ played to a 0-0 draw in Guatemala City on Sept. 7, 2005, four days after the U.S. had clinched their place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 win against Mexico. In their most recent meeting, a Clint Dempsey goal sparked the U.S. to a 1-0 victory in their opening match of the 2007 Gold Cup, paving the way for the United States to successfully defend their Gold Cup crown.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 2/2 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 3/2 SO)
DEFENDERS (6): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 13/1), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96: 15/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC: 1/0), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 11/1), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 8/0), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 2/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen: 2/1), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC: 1/0), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 1/0), Eddie Lewis (Derby County: 19/3), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids: 10/0)
FORWARDS (4): Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 7/4), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 21/8), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC: 8/2), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC: 8/8)
*numbers indicate all-time World Cup Qualifying caps/goals