U.S. roster set for World Cup qualifiers

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Confronted with injuries and players out of top form, Juergen Klinsmann had to scramble Monday to set his 23-man roster, particularly the backline, for the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica on Friday at DSG Park outside of Denver and a week from Tuesday against Mexico at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire).

Defenders: Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City).

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma, Italy), Joe Corona (Tijuana, Mexico), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor, Turkey), Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Brek Shea (Stoke City, England), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna, Mexico), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, Austria).

Notable absences: GK Tim Howard (back injury), MF-F Landon Donovan (hasn’t resumed training with the Galaxy since winter sabbatical), CB Carlos Bocanegra (not playing regularly for Racing Santander), LB Fabian Johnson (hip injury), RB Steve Cherundolo (knee injury), LB Edgar Castillo (facial injury), RB-CB Michael Parkhurst (not playing regularly for Augsburg), MF Jose Torres (hamstring injury), RB Timothy Chandler (hamstring injury), MF Daniel Williams (illness), D-MF Jonathan Spector (ankle injury), CB Oguchi Onyewu (not playing regularly for Malaga).

Goodson (34 U.S. games) is the only defender with more than a dozen international appearances, although Klinsmann could turn to midfielder Maurice Edu (43 caps) to reinforce the backline. Beltran, Besler and Morrow have one cap apiece. Gonzalez has four. Cameron has 12 and has appeared in six of seven qualifiers this cycle.

“Obviously there are many players out with injuries, and that means the next person in line has a chance to step up,” Klinsmann said.

Why does Klinsmann choose to announce his roster so close to the match instead of at least a week in advance, like most national team coaches? Here’s the explanation he offered to me last month:

“You always expect a problem here, a problem there, it always happens. That is why we have said we will give the roster out once they are here [in camp]. Otherwise, we have to change everything again and it doesn’t make it look nice. So we wait until we confirm by the players it’s all good, everyone is healthy, everyone got through the weekend [of league] matches okay.”

If you’re still interested, I addressed the roster issue at length last month.

Costa Rica’s roster is available here.

Mexico’s roster is available here.

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