ARENA PICKS 25 FOR WC QUALIFIERS
United States national team head coach Bruce Arena announced his 25-man roster on Sunday for the team's final World Cup qualifying games against Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.
The US find themselves in a very difficult position coming into the qualifiers and it is crucial that they get positive results from both if they want to avoid elimination or a dreaded two-leg playoff against either Syria or Australia in November.
The team is somewhat similar to the one Arena brought in for the September qualifiers with a few exceptions. Midfielder/Wing back Fabian Johnson has been omitted as there were concerns about his fitness. He had returned from injury to play for German Bundesliga team Borussia Monchengladbach, but has most seen action from off the bench.
Benny Feilhaber, Juan Agudelo and Michael Orozco have been brought into the team. Feilhaber, 32, makes his return after being was looked over by former US coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He did participate in US camp in January and played in a pair of friendlies, but was not included in any of the World Cup qualifiers until now.
Agudelo joins the team in place of injured forward Jordan Morris.
Arena believes the group he has called in can do the job and push the team to claim the third automatic spot to qualify for Russia 2018.
"It's a roster we've selected that we believe will give us success in these next two games. We have a pretty balanced roster with experienced players," said Arena in a statment on the US Soccer website. "The players always give the commitment, that's never an issue. The issue is whether we get the results we need, and I think we're positioned to do that. I think if it comes down to where we need four or six points in our last two games, I think that's fine and we'll get it done."
The US will first play Panama at home on October 6 at Orlando City Stadium followed a trip to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva four days later to face the Soca Warriors.
Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
The roster was originally 26, but midfielder Gyasi Zardes immediately withdrew from the team after suffering a groin strain in the LA Galaxy's game against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.