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Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez called up for World Cup qualifiers

August 29, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Landon Donovan. shown in action with the L.A. Galaxy, will play for the U.S. in World Cup qualifiers next month.
Landon Donovan. shown in action with the L.A. Galaxy, will play for the U.S.… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)

The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez were both called up to the U.S. national team Thursday for key World Cup qualifiers next month in Costa Rica and against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio.

For Donovan, next Friday’s match in Costa Rica will mark his first appearance in a World Cup qualifier in more than a year. Donovan did not play in the final four matches of the third round of qualifying last fall because of injury and was left off the roster for the first six games this year after taking a three-month break from soccer last winter.

"I'm excited. I'm happy to be a part of the group but we have real work to do,” said Donovan, who forced his way back onto the roster by leading a U.S. “B” team to a Gold Cup title last month, scoring seven goals and recording seven assists in seven July games.

“We have the potential in the next couple of weeks to be qualified for the World Cup and that's always the goal and I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen," Donovan said.

Gonzalez, who started all six of this year’s qualifiers, has become a force at central defense for Coach Juergen Klinsmann.

"It's just an exciting time. These games are huge and I'm just happy that I'm getting the opportunity to be a part of it," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, who is expected to play alongside Donovan in the Galaxy’s Major League Soccer match with San Jose on Saturday at the StubHub Center before joining the national team, was also happy his MLS teammate will be rejoining him.

“I'm very excited to have him there,” Gonzalez said of Donovan. “Just to have him there, just to bounce some things off of him because he has so much experience with the national team is going to be great."

Aside from Donovan’s selection, there was one other surprise in the roster Klinsmann announced Thursday with Aron Johannsson, a dual U.S.-Iceland citizen, joining the team as a forward alongside the Seattle Sounders’ Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson and Jozy Altidore, who plays with Sunderland of the English Premier League. Altidore had a hat trick in a 4-3 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this month to extend his personal scoring streak to a U.S.-record five consecutive games.

Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones will once again anchor the midfield, Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler will be among those joining Gonzalez on the back line and Tim Howard will be back in goal.

The U.S., riding a record 12-match winning streak, leads the six-team hexagonal round of regional World Cup qualifying with four matches left. The top three teams automatically earn berths in next year’s tournament in Brazil, something the U.S. can assure itself of with victories in Costa Rica and again Sept. 10 against Mexico.

The full roster, with players' current teams:

Goalkeepers -- Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders --  DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla)

Midfielders -- Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forward -- Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)


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Times staff writer James Peltz contributed to this report.

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