Jurgen Klinsmann's national team roster for World Cup qualifying matches against Costa Rica and Mexico is almost split evenly between European and domestic talent. The US (0-1-0, 0 points) plays Costa Rica (0-0-1, 1 point) Friday in Denver and Mexico (0-0-1, 1 point) on March 26 in Mexico City.
MLS has more of a presence in defense, while European-based players mostly dominate the offense.
Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) and Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) have been two of MLS's top performers in defense and are increasingly getting calls to the national team. Justin Morrow (San Jose) and Tony Beltran (Salt Lake), who earned surprise calls, showed promise during the Canada friendly in January, but looked as if they needed more development.
The starting lineup in midfield for both qualifiers will likely be dominated by European-based players. Michael Bradley (AS Roma) has had one of the highest passing completion rates of any midfielder in Italy, and Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04) has the hot foot, scoring in his club's latest Champions League game. Graham Zusi may be the only MLS-based player to earn a start in midfield, having performed well in his recent international games.
Clint Dempsey (Tottenham) can play in midfield, though after establishing himself as a legitimate scorer in the English Premier League and having scored in the US's last qualifer against Honduras, Klinsmann may opt to start him at forward. Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), who is currently fourth in Dutch league scoring with 18 goals, could be a potent partner for Dempsey.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard is out for at least one month with two broken vertebrae. Klinsmann has publicly announced that Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) will start the first qualifying match.
US Roster for qualifers vs Costa Rica and Mexico:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England - 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire - 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake - 0/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor/Turkey), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium), Brek Shea (Stoke City/England), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
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