RB Leipzig forward Terrence Boyd has been called in to the U.S. national team for the first time in more than two years and fellow Bundesliga attacker Christian Pulisic is returning to Germany as part of a roster overhaul ahead of Tuesday’s game against New Zealand.
In all, coach Jurgen Klinsmann has dismissed nine players who traveled to Cuba for Friday afternoon’s friendly, which the U.S. won, 2-0, on goals by Chris Wondolowski and Julian Green. Wondolowski, whose San Jose Earthquakes are fighting for an MLS playoff spot, is among the players whose club commitments prompted Klinsmann to make the changes.
Boyd is among seven additions heading to Washington, D.C., for Tuesday’s friendly.
“These friendly games are about getting our group ready for Mexico and Costa Rica,” Klinsmann said Sunday regarding the changes and next month’s two World Cup qualifiers. “For the guys coming in, it’s a chance to prove their point. We sent some of our European-based guys back to make sure they stay in a rhythm for the next few weeks, and with [Jordan] Morris and Wondolowski they have a chance to extend their [MLS] seasons. When it comes to roster spots for November, the fight is on.”
Here’s a look at the new U.S. roster (Newcomers are in italics).
David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
Horvath, 21, started Friday in Havana and played well in difficult conditions. He seems to have the inside track on the No. 3 spot behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, but is returning to Norway to prepare for Molde FK’s Eliteserien game next Sunday. Molde is in fourth place and one point out of a Europa League spot with four matches remaining. Hamid, who has two senior caps, replaces Horvath and will compete with Bingham and Yarbrough for minutes against New Zealand.
Departed: Ethan Horvath
Defenders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Three quarters of Klinsmann's preferred starting back four has been sent back to Europe, meaning he'll be forced to tinker a bit at RFK Stadium. Only Yedlin remains. Gonzalez didn’t get off the bench in Havana so is a good bet to see action on Tuesday. Birnbaum remains with the national team despite taking a kick to the face that required eight stitches. Assuming he doesn't play, veteran Matt Besler is the likely choice to partner in the middle with Gonzalez. The two started together against Germany and Belgium at the 2014 World Cup. Acosta did well at left back against St. Vincent & The Grenadines last month and probably will get another look there versus New Zealand. Parker offers depth at center back.
Departed: John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson
Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Danny Williams (Reading)
Pulisic didn’t have much of an impact on the choppy field in Cuba and will head back to Borussia Dortmund. One isn’t related to the other, as third-place Dortmund has a massive game Friday against second-place Hertha Berlin. There are no additions in midfield. Klinsmann may opt to start Bradley and Kljestan together again to see what they can do on a pitch conducive to possession. Meanwhile, neither Gooch (an attacking midfielder) nor Kitchen (defensive) saw time on Friday and Williams played only 20 minutes. So there are plenty of options for Klinsmann to consider.
Departed: Christian Pulisic
Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Terrence Boyd (RB Leipzig), Julian Green (Bayern Munich)
Once considered a target forward primed to pressure Altidore, Boyd has been wracked by injuries the past two years and has been called into the national team for the first team since the pre-World Cup camp in May 2014. Boyd has played only for Leipzig’s reserve team this season but Klinsmann has decided the 25-year-old is worth a first-hand look. He’ll fly in along with Agudelo, who has six goals and five assists for the Revs.
Morris’s Sounders have an MLS game Wednesday and are in a tight playoff race, while Wondolowski won’t get a chance to repeat Friday’s heroics as he returns to San Jose. Green, who helped set up Wondolowski’s game-winner, scored the second goal and was the Americans’ most dangerous player in Havana. He’s sticking with the U.S. rather than heading back to train with Bayern.
Departed: Jordan Morris, Chris Wondolowski, Bobby Wood