CHICAGO (Oct. 1, 2016) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named 23 players to the roster that will train in advance of the historic meeting against Cuba. The team begins gathering Sunday in Miami.
The first friendly between the nations on Cuban soil since 1947 kicks off at 4 p.m. ET at Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and UniMas.
Four days later, the U.S. will host New Zealand at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. [TICKETS]. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN and UniMas. Fans can follow both matches on Twitter @ussoccer, @ussoccer_esp and the U.S. Soccer Facebook Page.
COMPETITION HEATS UP AHEAD OF THE HEX
With the depth chart filling up in positions all over the field, competition will be fierce for the coveted 23 spots on the roster for the huge opening game of the Hex against rivals Mexico and the away trip to the venomous confines of Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica. While there are a host of regulars in the squad, there are a number of players looking to “make their case” for inclusion in November.
“These two games are very important for us because it’s the last time we can see certain players before making the decision on the 23 going in to represent us for the Mexico and Costa Rica clashes,” said Klinsmann. “There’s a lot at stake for the players to make their case, to show where they are right now. We have the opportunity to bring some players back that haven’t been with us for a little bit, and we want to see if they can put a stamp on this camp and have a chance for being in the roster next month. The bigger picture behind this is definitely Mexico and Costa Rica, and these two games will show us a lot about individual players.”
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY IN GOAL
Klinsmann has opened up a rare window of opportunity for the next generation of goalkeepers this week, standing down veterans Brad Guzan and Tim Howard while bringing in David Bingham, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough. The trio have a combined three caps to their credit, with Horvath still in search of his first appearance with the Senior Team.
“I think the goalkeeper position is unique. Obviously we have the two experienced guys with Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. Both are in different situations right now – Tim is obviously very busy with the Colorado Rapids and Brad is not getting the opportunity to play at Middlesbrough. I think it’s a perfect time to give an open window to three younger goalkeepers with William Yarbrough, Ethan Horvath and David Bingham. That’s why we decided to leave the two older guys out and give these three youngsters a chance to prove their point. That kind of opportunity is very rare.”
HISTORIC IN HAVANA
While the teams have played each other 11 times in their history – with the U.S. holding a record of 9-1-1 against the Cubans – visits to the island are exceedingly rare. In fact, this is only the third time they have met on Cuban soil. The first also happened to be the first game in the series and represented the lone victory in the lifetime series for the hosts, a 5-2 win on July 20, 1947, in Havana. Most recently, a 40th minute goal by Clint Dempsey proved the difference as the MNT collected a 1-0 win on Sept. 6, 2008, and its third straight road victory in the Semifinal Round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
YOUR GUIDE TO THE HEX
Beginning in November, the MNT embarks on the last leg of the journey to qualify for its eighth-consecutive World Cup. The six-team, 10-game Final Round – also known as the Hex – will span 11 months and see three teams from CONCACAF automatically qualify for Russia 2018. It’s a long and winding road. If you’d like a map, click here.
- A total of 15 players on the roster were part of the World Cup qualifying wins in September, including five of the six goal scorers.
- The 23 players ply their trade in seven different countries: USA (6), Germany (6), England (4), Mexico (3) Canada (2), Norway and Scotland (1 each)
- Jozy Altidore scored three times in those wins, improving his career total to 37 goals – third best all-time behind Landon Donovan (57) and Clint Dempsey (52). With 16 strikes in World Cup Qualifying, he currently tops the all-time U.S. list.
- Michael Bradley leads all cap winners with 122 appearances, while Toronto FC teammate Altidore is just five games shy of reaching the century mark.
- Bradley and Sacha Kljestan are the only two players on the roster who played in the MNT’s last visit to Cuba, a 1-0 World Cup Qualifying win in Havana on Sept. 6, 2008.
- Geoff Cameron was the only U.S. player to start all six Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying matches.
- Bobby Wood and Altidore have combined for 10 goals in the five matches they have started up front together all-time.
- After making his first appearance in more than two years for the MNT, Sacha Kljestan racked up two goals and two assists in the World Cup qualifying wins against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago in September.
- At 17 years, 353 days, Christian Pulisic is the youngest player in MNT history to start a FIFA World Cup qualifier, beating Jozy Altidore’s previous mark of 18 years, 343 days set on Oct. 11, 2008 vs. Cuba.
- With goals against Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago, Paul Arriola became just the eighth MNT player all-time to score in each of his first two appearances. The Club Tijuana attacker is the first to do it since Eddie Johnson achieved the feat in the fall of 2004.
- With his next assist, Bradley will tie Cobi Jones for second on the MNT’s all-time assist list (21). Landon Donovan holds the record with 58.
- Danny Williams, Julian Green and Timmy Chandler have all been summoned for duty for the first time since last May.
- Perry Kitchen joined a small fraternity of U.S internationals who have worn the captain’s armband for a club in Europe when Hearts made him the skipper last month.
- Jordan Morris has tallied 12 goals, including an MLS rookie record six game-winners, in his debut season for Seattle Sounders FC.
- Chris Wondolowski has 120 career goals in the league, and with 11 this year he extended his MLS record of double-digit goal scoring campaigns to seven-consecutive seasons.
- Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch gets his first invite to the Senior Team. The 20-year-old has started four matches in the Premier League this season and come off the bench in another.