The U.S. Men’s National Team opens the 2016 campaign against Iceland on Sunday, January 31 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Kickoff is set for 12:45 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network. Fans can also follow the match live on Facebook and Twitter at @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.
USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has 26 players in Carson preparing for the two-game set. The group has been conducting preseason training at the National Training Center. The squad includes five veterans from the 2014 FIFA World Cup roster and 10 players seeking their first cap.
The mixed roster of senior team players and U-23’s is preparing for a pair of key home-and-home series in March. The MNT will face Guatemala in the semifinal round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, while the U-23 MNT will play Colombia in a playoff series for the final berth in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Here are some additional story lines to follow for Sunday:
MLS ON DISPLAY - A total of 22 of the 26 players on the camp roster represent 15 different Major League Soccer teams, including three each from Columbus Crew SC and the Chicago Fire. Columbus midfielder Ethan Finlay and New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles were both named to the 2015 MLS Best XI. Robles was also named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
U-23s AUDITIONING FOR QUALIFIERS AGAINST COLOMBIA – With the critical games in March coming up, this camp has been a huge opportunity for several U-23s to get a head start on preparation and also show they deserve a roster spot. A total of nine age-eligible players remain in camp following the departure of Matt Miazga to Chelsea: Kellyn Acosta (20), Jerome Kiesewetter (22), Eric Miller (23), Jordan Morris (21), Tim Parker (22), Matt Polster (22), Kyrie Shelton (22), Wil Trapp (23) and Brandon Vincent (21).
Kiesewetter, Morris, Polster and Trapp were all members of the Under-23 Men’s National Team that recently placed third in CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying. Kiesewetter and Morris tied for the team lead with six goals each in 2015.
MAKING THE JUMP FROM JANUARY CAMP - The annual camp which puts players in front of the coaching staff for nearly a month has often proved a springboard to a future National Team career. In the four years before the World Cup in 2014, Geoff Cameron (2011), Graham Zusi (2012), Matt Besler (2013), DeAndre Yedlin (2014) all debuted in January and went on to play in Brazil. Following his debut at last year’s January camp, Zardes earned 19 appearances in 2015, tying Claudio Reyna in 1994 for most caps by a U.S. player in their debut year with the National Team.
JOZY ALTIDORE REFRESHED AND READY – At the age of 26 and with 89 caps under his belt, Altidore is already entering his 10th year with the National Team. Following an up and down 2015 – he scored his 11th and 12th goals in FIFA World Cup qualifying, which is good for a tie for third place all-time in U.S. World Cup qualifying – he came to California a week early to get a head start on fitness and form. “The World Cup year was tough for me, last year was tough for me," said Altidore. "The one common denominator was injury, so the biggest thing for me is to stay healthy, stay fit, and if I can do that, I can be back to my best. That's what I want, and that's what I need if I want to help my teams."
VS ICELAND - Sunday will mark the seventh meeting between the USA and Iceland, but first since 1994. After meeting once in 1955 and again in 1978, the teams met four times from 1990-1994. The last match was on April 14, 1994, with Iceland claiming a 2-1 win in San Diego, California.
After falling short of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in a playoff against Croatia, Iceland became the smallest nation to ever qualify for the European Championship this summer. Former UEFA Champions League winner, Eidur Gudjohnsen, is Iceland’s all-time leading scorer with 25 goals in 83 caps.
U.S. Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
DEFENDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (unattached), Perry Kitchen (unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
ICELAND ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 12-Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson (Breidablik), 1-Ögmundur Kristinsson (Hammarby, SWE)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Birkir Már Sævarsson (Hammarby, SWE), 23-Ari Freyr Skúlason (Odense Boldklub, DEN), 3-Hallgrímur Jónasson (Odense Boldklub, DEN), 5-Jón Gudni Fjóluson (IFK Norrköping, SWE), 14-Diego Jóhannesson (Real Oviedo, SPA), 4-Hjörtur Hermannsson (PSV Eindhoven, HOL)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 10-Arnór Smárason (Hammarby, SWE), 8-Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson (GIF Sundsvall, SWE), 6-Gudmundur Thórarinsson (FC Nordsjælland, DEN), 17-Kristinn Steindórsson (GIF Sundsvall, SWE), 7-Aron Sigurdarson (Fjölnir), 18-Ævar Ingi Jóhannesson (Stjarnan)
FORWARDs (4): 22-Eidur Smári Gudjohnsen (unattached), 11-Kjartan Henry Finnbogason (AC Horsens, DEN), 9-Gardar Gunnlaugsson (Í Akraness), 15-Aron Elís Thrándarson (Aalesund FK, NOR)