Arena Calls 26 Players for Critical World Cup Qualifiers vs. Costa Rica and Honduras
USA-Costa Rica, Presented by Volpi Foods, Kicks Off Matchday 7 on Sept. 1 at Red Bull Arena; MNT Faces Honduras in San Pedro Sula Four Days Later
CHICAGO (Aug. 27, 2017) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena has called 26 players into training camp in advance of the USA’s critical World Cup Qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.
“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 United States is now 2-0-2 in World Cup Qualifying since Bruce Arena took over as head coach and has climbed into third place in the six-team Final Round group, also known as the Hex. A victory at home against Costa Rica would be a huge step closer to qualifying for Russia, so the MNT is on a mission to #Get3 points at home once again. The top three teams automatically qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. [STANDINGS.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 14/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 36/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 34/6), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 11/1), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 22/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 15/0), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 0/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 0/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 5/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 3/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 18/3)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 4/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 3/1), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 9/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 35/7), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 16/1), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 7/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 9/5), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 38/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 39/18), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 10/4)
HEAVY ON EXPERIENCE
With the Final Round reaching crunch time, Arena has called upon a group loaded with experience in World Cup Qualifying. A total of 12 players on the roster have made 10 or more FIFA World Cup Qualifying appearances: Clint Dempsey (39), Jozy Altidore (38), Tim Howard (36), Michael Bradley (35), DaMarcus Beasley (34), Geoff Cameron (22), Graham Zusi (18), Fabian Johnson (16), Omar Gonzalez (15), Brad Guzan (14), Matt Besler (11). Additionally, 18 players earned themselves a medal by winning the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
SPREADING THE SCORING WEALTH
A total of 13 U.S. players have gotten on the scoresheet in 2017, and eight of them are on the roster for these qualifiers. Clint Dempsey leads all scorers with five goals, while Jordan Morris and Christian Pulisic each have four. Morris netted the championship-winning goal in this summer’s Gold Cup, while three of Pulisic’s goals have come in World Cup Qualifying including a pair in the 2-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago. Jozy Altidore scored in both the Semifinal and Final of the Gold Cup, and Michael Bradley’s wonder chip in Mexico City earned the MNT a vital point on the road.
Historically, qualifying for the World Cup through CONCACAF requires earning results at home, and once again the immediate focus for the MNT is getting three points against second-place Costa Rica. From the historic 1-0 win thanks to a Tab Ramos strike in 1997 to the last-minute goal by Jonathan Bornstein that led to a draw in 2009 in Washington, D.C., and the now famous Snowclasico of 2013, there have been numerous classic home qualifiers against the Ticos. In terms of importance for reaching the World Cup, this one ranks right up there.
COSTA RICA COMING STRONG
With a 3-1-2 record in the Hex, Costa Rica has collected 11 points through six matches. When the United States handed them a 2-0 loss in the Gold Cup, it snapped a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) in which they conceded just three goals. Costa Rica has kept clean sheets in more than half of their last 16 games in all competitions (9), and in three of the six games in the Final Round.
Players begin reporting Aug. 27 into the New York area ahead of USA-Costa Rica, presented by Volpi Foods. Kickoff at Red Bull Arena is set for 6:30 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast on ESPN, Univision and UDN.
A limited number of tickets are currently available for the game and can be purchased at ussoccer.com. On the same primary ticket order page, fans may also buy tickets for sale by other fans and see all their ticket choices via TM+, Ticketmaster’s fan-to-fan marketplace. All resale tickets bought and sold on Ticketmaster are verified and reissued with new entry codes, ensuring fans receive legitimate, Ticketmaster Verified tickets that are valid for entry.
Four days later, the U.S. will face Honduras in the cauldron of Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. The MNT travels to San Pedro Sula for the third straight qualifying cycle, which includes one historic result in 2009 when a pair of goals from Conor Casey and the game-winner from Landon Donovan booked the United States in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Coverage on Sept. 5 begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT and UNIVERSO.
- A total of 12 players on the roster have made 10 or more FIFA World Cup Qualifying appearances: Clint Dempsey (39), Jozy Altidore (38), Tim Howard (36), Michael Bradley (35), DaMarcus Beasley (34), Geoff Cameron (22), Graham Zusi (18), Fabian Johnson (16), Omar Gonzalez (15), Brad Guzan (14), Matt Besler (11).
- Eighteen players logged time during the team’s June World Cup Qualifying matches: goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Howard; defenders Beasley, Cameron, Gonzalez, Ream, Jorge Villafaña and Zusi; midfielders Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Bradley, Johnson, Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic; forwards Altidore, Dempsey and Wood.
- Eighteen players also took part in the U.S. MNT’s 2017 Gold Cup championship campaign: Acosta, Altidore, Arriola, Bedoya, Besler, Bradley, Dempsey Gonzalez, Guzan, Matt Hedges, Howard, Eric Lichaj, Dax McCarty, Jordan Morris, Nagbe, Cristian Roldan, Villafaña and Zusi.
- In addition, most of the players have had significant time in front of the coaching staff, from January camp through the Gold Cup. A total of 15 players on the roster have five or more appearances under Bruce this year. Leading appearances are Villafaña and Zusi (11), while Acosta, Bradley, Gonzalez and Nagbe have 10 each.
- Altidore, Arriola, Bedoya, Besler, Bradley and Cameron come into camp on World Cup Qualifying caution watch and will serve a one-match suspension with their next yellow card.
- Six players will look to make their World Cup Qualifying debuts: goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defenders Matt Hedges and Eric Lichaj, midfielders Dax McCarty and Cristian Roldan and forward Chris Wondolowski.
- Already tied with Landon Donovan as the USA’s all-time goal scoring leader at 57, with his next World Cup Qualifying appearance Dempsey (39) will also equal his former teammate at the top of the MNT’s all-time caps list in the competition.
- With 18, Dempsey is the U.S. MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying scoring leader, followed closely by Altidore at 16.
- Dempsey is the U.S. MNT’s all-time leading scorer against both Costa Rica and Honduras. The veteran forward has tallied four goals (two in World Cup Qualifying) vs. Los Ticos and six (four in World Cup Qualifying) against Los Catrachos.
- Bradley is the other player on the roster to tally a World Cup Qualifying goal vs. Costa Rica, finding the back of the net in a 2-2 draw on Oct. 14, 2009 in Washington, D.C.
- In the teams’ most recent meeting Altidore and Dempsey each scored in the USA’s 2-0 Gold Cup Semifinal victory vs. Costa Rica on July 22, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.
- Altidore, Bradley and Pulisic each have one World Cup Qualifying goal against Honduras with the later pair registering a goal in the USA’s 6-0 win on March 24 in San Jose.
- With five games each, Altidore and Beasley lead the list of 13 players that have previous World Cup Qualifying caps vs. Costa Rica. The others: Bradley, Dempsey and Howard (4), Gonzalez and Zusi (3), Besler, Cameron, Johnson.
- With two trips each, Altidore, Bradley and Howard lead the list of eight players that have experienced a World Cup Qualifier in Honduras. The others: Cameron, Dempsey, Gonzalez, Johnson and Zusi.
- Defender Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Fabian Johnson shook off August injury concerns to be part of the September camp. Gonzalez went the full 90 minutes in Pachuca’s 2-1 defeat to Club Tijuana on Friday, while Johnson was an 80th minute substitute in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 2-2 draw at Augsburg on Saturday.
- Bobby Wood comes in to camp fresh off his game-winning goal in Hamburg’s 3-1 win vs. Köln on Friday afternoon. The forward has tallied twice in his first three matches of the season for Die Rothosen.
- Similarly, Pulisic has gotten off to a hot start with Borussia Dortmund, tallying a goal against Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup, as well as a goal and assist in last week’s 3-0 win vs. Wolfsburg.
- Paul Arriola joins the U.S. MNT for the first time as a D.C. United player. Following the Gold Cup, the midfielder had a brief return to Club Tijuana before completing a high-profile transfer to United on Aug. 9. Since his arrival at RFK Stadium, United has had a resurgence of sorts, going 3-1-0 in four matches.
- Having contributed three assists during the Gold Cup Group Stage, Bedoya makes the short drive to New Jersey after scoring his first goal of the season in Philadelphia Union’s 2-2 draw vs. Atlanta United FC on Saturday night