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USA World Cup qualifying roster: Nagbe, Johnson in; Dempsey out

Darlington Nagbe has received his first U.S. men's national team call-up, getting tabbed by Jurgen Klinsmann for the USA's first 2018 World Cup qualifying matches. Brian Straus breaks down the roster.

Clint Dempsey, who started the year as U.S. national team captain, is off. New citizen Darlington Nagbe and emerging defensive stalwart Matt Miazga suddenly are on the threshold of their international debuts. Fabian Johnson is back after a short stay in the coach’s doghouse. And Jurgen Klinsmann has found a balance between continuity and overhaul on his first World Cup qualifying roster of this new cycle.

Less than a month after reaching the nadir of his four-plus year tenure as U.S. coach, the embattled manager has named a 23-man team for the upcoming qualifiers against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis (Nov. 13) and Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain, Trinidad (Nov. 17).

Thirteen of the 23 players have World Cup qualifying experience and 14 were on the team that fell to Mexico in last month’s Confederations Cup playoff, which capped a miserable summer anchored by a fourth-place finish in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Klinsmann said Friday that he’s eager to turn the page.

“We’re all excited about starting World Cup qualifying toward Russia 2018. Every time you say the words ‘World Cup’ it means so much to everyone involved that it gets you pumped up and energetic,” he told U.S. Soccer. “The players realize it’s going to be a long marathon toward Russia 2018, but we have to start it on the right foot.”

The U.S. will start practicing this weekend in Miami before moving to St. Louis on Nov. 12. The following day, it’ll kick off its quest for an eighth straight World Cup appearance when it hosts Saint Vincent at Busch Stadium. The Americans then will travel to Trinidad.

Klinsmann and Co. enter CONCACAF’s qualifying competition at the semifinal stage, which comprises three groups of four teams. Guatemala rounds out the Americans' quartet, which is the easiest of the groups on paper. The four teams will play a home-and-home round robin (six games each) over the next 10 months and the top two will advance to the Hexagonal, which kicks off in November 2016.

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USWNT vs. France, February 8
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