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U.S. calls up young squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers

March 18, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez was called up to the U.S. national team on Monday.
Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez was called up to the U.S. national team on… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez and Club Tijuana midfielder Joe Corona were among 23 players called up to the U.S. national soccer team Monday ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers with Costa Rica on Friday in Denver and March 26 against Mexico in Mexico City. One game into the final round of qualifying for Brazil 2014, the U.S. is the only country in its six-team regional pool without a point.

The U.S. team has been hit hard by injuries that have left eight regulars, including keeper and captain Tim Howard, unavailable. And forward Clint Dempsey missed Tottenham’s previous five games with a calf injury before playing one half last weekend to earn his call-up.

As a result, Coach Juergen Klinsmann's roster is heavy with both youth and international inexperience.

Dempsey, for example, is the only player to appear in all seven matches in this qualifying cycle while 10 others have appeared in three or fewer World Cup qualifiers in their career. And the last two players to wear the captain's arm won't be in uniform.

"It is what is it," said Klinsmann, who declined to talk about the U.S. team's opening loss to Honduras last month. "We're not complaining about the situation. We're comfortable with this roster."

The U.S. is especially thin on the back line where former captain Carlos Bocanegra of Spain's Racing Santander, Tijuana's Edgar Castillo, Numenberg's Timmy Chandler, Hannover's Steve Cherundolo, Hoffenheim's Fabian Johnson and Birmingham City's Jonathan Spector are all unavailable.

Klinsmann isn't using that as an excuse, however.

"It's a must-win here Friday night against Costa Rica," he said. "We want to go forward and create chances and get the crowd behind us."

The U.S. hasn't beaten Costa Rica, a 2006 World Cup qualifier, since June 2005, a span of five matches.

U.S. national soccer team roster for World Cup qualifiers with Costa Rica (Friday) and Mexico (March 26):

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

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

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

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

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