Having just spent his monthlong winter camp working with domestic players, U.S. national team Coach Juergen Klinsmann called up a team of primarily foreign-based players for next week’s friendly against the Ukraine in Cyprus.
The game, to be played on the last FIFA match day before preliminary World Cup rosters are due in May, is widely seen as a final audition for several players on the fringes of the U.S. team for Brazil.
“You want to give them a chance to show where they are at and what’s going on in their specific situation,” Klinsmann said. “It’s a huge opportunity for all those guys to prove to us that they are eager and hungry to jump on the train to the World Cup.”
Among those needing to make a strong case for inclusion are defenders Oguchi Onyewu, a two-time World Cup veteran who has been slowed by a calf injury, and Tim Ream, who was called up for the first time since August.
Up front, former Chivas USA forward Juan Agudelo is getting another chance after playing only 55 minutes for the national team since 2011.
Klinsmann did call up two Major Soccer League players in midfielders Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, but Dempsey has been playing on loan from Fulham of the English Premier League and Bradley has yet to appear in a regular-season game for Toronto after leaving Rome of Italy's Serie A.
They will be joined by other national team mainstays in goalie Tim Howard of EPL club Everton, midfielder Jermaine Jones of Turkey's Besiktas and forward Jozy Altidore of EPL club Sunderland.
"Having Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in for Ukraine is very important to us," Klinsmann said. "It's very important to see both back in the team and putting their stamp on the game."
Also called into training was 18-year-old Julian Green, a German-American forward who plays for Klinsmann's former team, Bayern Munich. Klinsmann is hoping to persuade Green, who has citizenship in both countries, to play internationally for the U.S. According to reports out of Germany, Green has already decided to cast his lot with Klinsmann and the American team.
Wednesday's match was originally scheduled for Kharkiv, Ukraine, but was moved to Cyprus, earlier this week because of the uncertain and dangerous political situation in Ukraine.
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)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (Utrecht), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar)
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