ISLAND HOPPING, THE HARD WAY
Playing against the island nations on their own soil presents more of a challenge than meets the eye. In addition to facing determined opponents, there are issues of travel, weather, field conditions and other idiosyncrasies that combine to make getting results a real test. In qualifying for both the 2002 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, games against Caribbean teams went down to the wire and nearly cost the United States a spot in the final round. For the MNT, the trip to St. Vincent starts with a change of planes – as in multiple. Since the runway on the island isn’t sized to accommodate jets, the MNT will land in Barbados and then switch to a series of 19-passenger puddle jumpers to complete the journey. One plane will be needed just for the team gear, most of which will stay behind in Jacksonville. The 11,000 seat Arnos Vale Stadium – better known as the Playing Fields – will host the match. Built in 1981 as a cricket venue, it is the home of the Winward Islands Cricket Team. The stadium does not have floodlights; thus, the afternoon kickoff.
HOME SUPPORT IN JACKSONVILLE
EverBank Field and the fans in Jacksonville have proved excellent hosts for the MNT, and the team has clearly responded. With great crowd support and a superb playing surface, the U.S. has posted two wins while scoring seven goals and only surrendering a pair. In 2012, a Landon Donovan hat trick and strikes from Michael Bradley andJermaine Jones paced the U.S. to a 5-1 win against Scotland. In the final sendoff before the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Altidore bagged a pair as the MNT ran out 2-1 winners against Nigeria. Overall, the USA holds an unblemished 4-0-0 in JAX dating back to 1997.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
DEFENDERS (9) : Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
MIDFIELDERS (9) : Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake),Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5) : Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)
- 19 players on the roster were part of the side that earned fourth-place at this summer’s Copa America Centenario.
- Five players could gain their first World Cup Qualifying caps: Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Ethan Horvath, Rubio Rubin, Caleb Stanko.
- The 26 players ply their trades in eight different countries: USA (11), Germany (4), England, Mexico (3 each), Canada (2), Liechtenstein, Netherlands and Norway (1 each)
- Tim Howard leads all players on the roster with 31 World Cup Qualifying caps, followed by Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley who have 29 each.
- Michael Bradley and Michael Orozco are unavailable for selection against St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Bradley will sit out the match after accumulating two yellow cards during the first four semifinal round qualifiers, while Orozco will serve a one-game suspension after receiving a red card during the Copa America Centenario Third-Place Match against Colombia.
- Seven players have scored goals for the U.S. in World Cup Qualifying: Jozy Altidore (13), Michael Bradley (5), Graham Zusi (3) Geoff Cameron (2), Fabian Johnson, Michael Orozco, Bobby Wood (1 each)
- Altidore sits tied with Landon Donovan for second all-time on the MNT’s World Cup Qualifying goals list with 13. Altidore and Donovan sit one goal behind first-place Clint Dempsey at 14.
- After a hamstring injury forced him to miss out on Copa America Centenario, Altidore returns to the MNT for the first time since March’s World Cup Qualifiers against Guatemala.
- Altidore (2 goals), Cameron, Johnson and Wood each scored in the MNT’s 6-1 World Cup Qualifying win against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Nov. 13, 2015 in St. Louis.
- Altidore and Bradley are the only players that have scored goals against Trinidad & Tobago. Bradley scored in the USA’s 3-0 win against Trinidad in semifinal round qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup on Sept. 10, 2008. The following year, became the youngest player in U.S. history to tally a hat trick in the MNT’s 3-0 victory against T&T in final round qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup on April 1, 2009.
- With his next assist, Bradley will tie Cobi Jones for second on the MNT’s all-time assist list. Landon Donovan holds the USA’s assist record with 58.
- Bobby Wood scored his first Bundesliga goal for new side Hamburg in the club 1-1 season opening draw with Ingolstadt on Saturday.
- Along with Wood, defenders John Brooks and Fabian Johnson both helped their Bundesliga clubs to season opening victories this weekend. Brooks played the full 90 minutes in Hertha Berlin’s 2-1 win against Freiburg, while Johnson was a 61st minute substitute in Borussia Moenchengladbach’s 2-1 result against Bayer Leverkusen.
- Having transferred to Middlesbrough last month, goalkeeper Brad Guzan comes into camp after earning a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
- Guzan is 7-2-0 with five clean sheets over his nine appearances for the MNT in 2016.
- After signing with Newcastle United earlier this week, DeAndre Yedlin made a cameo debut appearance in the club’s 2-0 victory against Brighton on Saturday.