Jurgen Klinsmann calls up 23 for two crucial qualifiers

Posted by Jason Davis

Ben Hoskins/Getty ImagesWith Tim Howard injured, Brad Guzan gets his shot in goal for the United States national team.

His hands tied by a rash of injuries and dwindling club playing time, Jurgen Klinsmann did what he could to put together a roster of 23 players set to take on Costa Rica in Denver and Mexico in Mexico City in the course of four days. The roster is full of surprises, and not just the absence of longtime U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra. Several MLS players not seen before with the full national team will face the challenge of turning around the qualification campaign.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa -- 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire -- 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake -- 0/0)

Thoughts: There are no surprises here. Tim Howard is sidelined with an injury, making Brad Guzan the obvious choice to step in between the sticks. Nick Rimando is steady and experienced, and Johnson has long been Klinsmann's preferred young goalkeeper (at the expense of Bill Hamid). Though Guzan is playing well for Aston Villa in the Premier League and makes the most sense as Howard's replacement, the issues of defensive inexperience and communication between Guzan and his defense will play a large role in how many points this team will extract from two very difficult games.

DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake -- 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City -- 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City -- 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy -- 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby -- 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes -- 0/0)

Thoughts: Here's where the injuries have had the most impact on the U.S. men's national team. Gonzalez and Cameron started as center backs against Honduras, and will be expected to do so again Friday. Goodson appears in place of Bocanegra while Besler gets his second consecutive call-up. On the outside, surprise inclusions Beltran and Morrow must step in for the injured Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson. Steve Cherundolo remains out. This group is distressingly thin on experience.

MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla - 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake -- 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma -- 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana -- 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor -- 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 -- 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht -- 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City -- 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City -- 4/0)

Thoughts: Injuries are an issue in midfield as well. Out are Danny Williams and Jose Torres, necessitating the call of Corona of Tijuana and re-introduction of Beckerman. Unlike Klinsmann's previous roster, there's width in this group with the inclusion of Beasley (a return for the former national team stalwart) and Shea, newly signed with Stoke City. Whether that means Klinsmann will utilize Beasley and Shea as a means to stretch the field against either Costa Rica or Mexico remains to be seen. No surprise in the call-ups of Bradley, Jones, Edu (a regular under Klinsmann) or Zusi.

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar -- 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna -- 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur -- 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos -- 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC -- 12/10)

Fortunately for Klinsmann, his first-choice collection of forwards is healthy and available. All but Dempsey are in the midst of good runs of form. Dempsey returned to action for Spurs on Sunday after an injury absence, but should be ready to start Friday in Denver. If the Americans are going to make up for some very obvious concerns in the defensive part of the field, they'll need this group to combine for goals, and certainly in the plural.

After losing the opening qualifier of the round in Honduras, it's crucial the team have something to show from the matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. Because only once has an American team ever make the trek to Azteca and come away with a point, the home date against the Ticos Friday will garner the lion's share of the spotlight. Forced to make dramatic changes due to injuries to a number of his most trusted players, Klinsmann is banking on an infusion of width and the good form of his striker pool to start the pair of qualifiers off on the right foot.

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