ARENA CALLS UP 26 FOR WC QUALIFIERS
EXTRA TIME
KENYA BROWN - Tuesday, August 29, 2017
US national team head coach Bruce Arena has called up 26 players ahead of their September World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.

It is a rather experienced group, with 18 players having played under Arena during their successful CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign over the summer.

Two players missing from the group are in the back line as John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin have been forced to sit out through injuries - the former is nursing a thigh injury that will keep him out of action for three months while the latter has a hamstring injury.

Arena should have good cover at right back as he has recalled Eric Lichaj from Nottingham Forest and Graham Zusi. A lot of attention will be centered on who he places at center back as he can choose from either Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream or Matt Hedges.

Michael Bradley and Christian Pulisic lead the names who are in the midfield. Pulisic has started the season off quite well in the Bundesliga as he scored a goal in Borussia Dortmund's opening game. After recovering from a recent injury, Fabian Johnson returns to the fold to hopefully make a contribution.

Up top, Arena will hope he can get goals from either Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood or Jordan Morris. Clint Dempsey will likely be called into service from off the bench should the US need an offensive spark.

As training began on Monday, Arean feels he has brought in the right group of players to get the job done.

"I think we're bringing in a good roster, one that has depth in every position and in which all 26 players have been with the National Team in 2017. I think we have the right understanding as a group as to what needs to be done, and hopefully we can be successful in these next two games," said the coach in a statement on the US Soccer website.

Since returning to helm as US national team boss, Arena has guided them to a 2-2-2 record, putting them in third place in the CONCACAF standings with eight points. If they can earn maximum points from the two upcoming games, they will put themselves in excellent position to automatically qualify for Russia 2018.

The US will first play Costa Rica on Friday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, before traveling to Honduras for their September 5 encounter.

Roster

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Moenchengladbach), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
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