U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann has turned to his European-based players for next Wednesday's friendly against Ukraine. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press/AP)
As expected, U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has released a roster that is heavy on European-based players for next Wednesday's friendly against Ukraine.
The match, which will be played at Antonis Papadopoulous Stadium in Larnaca, Cyprus at 2 p.m. (ET) on March 5, will be televised live on ESPN2, according to U.S. Soccer. The game was originally slated to be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on the same day and at the same time, but violent unrest in the country forced the rearrangement.
EPL-based regulars Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan; Eredivisie-based forwards Aron Johannsson and Juan Agudelo; defenders Fabian Johnson, Oguchi Onyewu and John Anthony Brooks (who has yet to be cap-tied and would not be even if he plays in Wednesday's game); and midfielders Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan and Alejandro Bedoya are among the call-ups. Considering Wednesday is the final FIFA international fixture date prior to the World Cup roster selection, the match (in addition to the brief pre-match training camp) is being billed as a last-chance audition of sorts for the European-based U.S. contingent.
Of MLS-based players, only U.S. captain and Seattle's Clint Dempsey (who is currently in London on loan with Fulham) and Toronto FC's Michael Bradley -- two locks for Brazil -- were called in. Edgar Castillo is the only call-up based in Mexico.
"This is a huge game. We play Ukraine, which barley missed out on going to Brazil," Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer's official website. "They had a playoff against France, one of the best teams in the world. So you want to have a very strong team against Ukraine, and as I often mention our team is defined in its spine. The core group of the team is Tim Howard and then Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones in midfield, Clint Dempsey in front of them and then Jozy Altidore up front. These five players build our spine.
“Having Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in for Ukraine is very important to us. Clint has played these two months at Fulham and Michael is coming off preseason camp with Toronto, so for us it’s very important to see both back in the team and putting their stamp on the game.”
As had been previously confirmed by U.S. Soccer, Bayern Munich's 18-year-old German-American forward Julian Green will be joining the U.S. for pre-match training in Frankfurt, Germany. He is ineligible to play for the USA until he files for a one-time FIFA switch, as he has represented Germany's U-19s in an official competition (much like Aron Johannsson had done for Iceland's youth system before locking himself into the U.S. team), but he does maintain dual Germany-U.S. senior eligibility.
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SI's Grant Wahl reported on Fox Sports 1's UEFA Europa League pregame show Thursday that Green is not the only young dual-national that Klinsmann is eyeing, with Arsenal's Gedion Zelalem and Mainz's Shawn Parker also in his crosshairs. Neither player will accompany the U.S. this coming week, though.
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Here is the U.S. roster in full:
GOALKEEPERS: Cody Cropper (Southampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Oguchi Onyewu (Sheffield Wednesday), Will Packwood (Birmingham City), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers)
MIDFIELDERS: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Barnsley), Danny Williams (Reading)
: Juan Agudelo (Utrecht), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar)