Bruce Arena has options at goalkeeper for World Cup qualifiers

One of the key positions that the U.S. will need to iron out ahead of the March World Cup qualifiers is in goal.

Tim Howard is recovering from an injury. Brad Guzan is now with Middlesbrough, but not receiving consistent playing time. Nick Rimando had a great showing in the January training camp and friendlies.

“Brad Guzan is a very experienced goalkeeper, and as we saw in the case of Nick Rimando in January camp that experience means a lot,” Arena said on a conference call last week. “Because they’re not getting games on a consistent basis doesn’t mean you can rule him out. I think Brad has shown enough that he’s still a strong candidate to be our number one goalkeeper.

“In the case of Tim Howard, he’s moving along pretty well. I believe he’s 12 weeks out of surgery and the expectation for him was that his full recovery would be between 12 and 16 weeks, so he’s on schedule to hopefully start the first week of the M.L.S. season. Having said that, it could be off a couple weeks and perhaps he won’t be a candidate for March. Right now, he’s still in the picture and that’s a positive as well.”

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Bruce Arena turns his attention toward important March qualifiers

After the January camp and a pair of friendlies, U.S. Men’s National Team Bruce Arena and his coaching staff have their sights set on March and the highly critical World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama.

The U.S. will host Honduras, March 24 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. The U.S. lost both of their opening qualifiers  during the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.

“Now the goal is to merge our players abroad with our domestic players and come up with the best roster for those games against Honduras and Panama,” Arena said during a conference call Thursday. “We’re working right now with a pool of approximately 40 players, give or take a few numbers either way, and we need to break it down to somewhat near 25 for when we report to San Jose.

“We understand how we’re going to play, we have a depth chart and we’re going to sit down and have some conversations to make sure the players understand what they’re going to do before they even get here, make sure they’re bought into that and then finalize the roster.”

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U.S. Soccer releases final 23-man roster for upcoming friendlies

Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes and goalkeeper Brian Rowe were among the six players released back to their clubs from the U.S. Men’s National Team camp.

Zardes, who had missed the previous two days of training, has a “minor” right knee ussoccerlogocontusion and will not play in Sunday’s friendly against Serbia in San Diego or Jamaica, Feb. 3.

Taylor Kemp (D.C. United), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia), Will Trapp (Columbus) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose) were the other players sent back to their clubs, leaving the U.S. roster at 23.

“I have been extremely pleased with the effort and progress we have seen throughout the January Camp,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. “The entire pool of players has performed well and has made our roster decisions very difficult. We are excited to take the next step and look forward to the game against Serbia in San Diego.”

Here is the final roster:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)

DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Greg Garza (Atlanta United FC), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union)

FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)

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Anaheim’s Jorge Villafana added to USMNT camp

Santos Laguna defender Jorge Villafana has been called into the U.S. ussoccerlogoMen’s National Team camp.

Villafana, 27, played with Portland in MLS and made 26 appearances for Santos Laguna at the start of 2016.

Villafana, originally from Anaheim, is the inaugural winner of Sueno MLS, a reality show that led to a tryout with MLS. He was eventually signed to a professional contract with Chivas USA in 2007.

Villafana, then Jorge Flores, made 86 appearances for Chivas USA and then 52 with Portland before moving to Mexico.

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Brian Rowe settling into U.S. National Team camp

Brian Rowe has come a long way in one season.

He wasn’t the Galaxy starting in goal entering the 2016 MLS season, but took advantage of an opportunity and finished up appearing in 31 of 34 games. He recorded nine clean sheets and made 113 saves.

“It was my first long stretch of games played, but knowing what it takes to be a starter ussoccerlogothroughout the year and how to prepare yourself week in and week out to be healthy,” Rowe said. “I felt like I met a lot of goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year and I know there is still a lot of work to be done.”

His performance eventually translated into receiving a call into his first national team camp.

Rowe is one of four keepers in camp with the U.S as they prepare for Sunday’s friendly against Serbia. He is joined by David Bingham (San Jose), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) and Luis Robles (New York).

“It is a great honor to get called in and to be one the goalies that gets to represent his country in this camp,” Rowe said from national team training recently. “Once camp had started, I was getting ready for the Galaxy season, I was kind of planning my workouts. Then Matt Reis called me to tell me that (Seattle goalkeeper Stefan) Frei had been injured and they were bringing me in.

“First day was a little rusty, jumping right in, but I’ve been slowly getting the wheels going and I feel more comfortable and just have fun with it.”

Bruce Arena, who coached Rowe with the Galaxy knows that the future is certainly bright for Rowe.

“This will be a good experience for Brian,” Arena said. “We had some choices, but we know the player and I think he could come in right away and contribute in training. We’ll see how he progresses in the goalkeeping competition.

“With any inexperienced goalkeeper, the more games you get the better. Two hundred games from now, he’s going to be a heck of a lot better than he is now. Goalies need games. He got better as the season went on.”

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100 Percent Soccer column: Galaxy finally signs Jermaine Jones, while Bruce Arena makes play for USMNT stability after turmoil

jones Galaxy guy: Jermaine Jones, seen here avoiding the media at the USMNT camp at StubHub Center, officially signed Wednesday with LA.

Read more about Jones signing with the Galaxy and Bruce Arena taking control of the USMNT program in this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column.

Staff Writer Damian Calhoun has more on the Jones signing here.

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100 Percent Soccer column: As Bruce Arena swaps Galaxy for faltering U.S. national team what now for club and country?

The U.S. Men's soccer team practice with Coach Bruce Arena at StubHub Center in Carson.  Photos by Brad Graverson/SCNG/01-11-17

The U.S. Men’s soccer team practice with Coach Bruce Arena at StubHub Center in Carson. Photos by Brad Graverson/SCNG/01-11-17

Read Staff Writer Damian Calhoun’s take on the opening day of the USMNT camp in Carson at StubHub Center.

Read the inaugural 100 Percent Soccer column of 2017 and my take on what Arena’s move means here.

And see Staff Photographer Brad Graverson’s images of the first day on the field for the USMNT squad here.

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Gyasi Zardes and Sebastian Lletget receive call-ups for U.S. National Team camp

Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes and midfielder Sebastian Lletget were among the 32 players that received invites to the U.S. Men’s National Team camp.

The camp begins Jan. 10 at StubHub Center. The U.S. will play its first friendly under new galaxycoach Bruce Arena, Jan. 29 against Serbia in San Diego.

Also on the roster is midfielder Jermaine Jones. The Galaxy acquired the rights to Jones last month, but have yet to finalize a new contract.

The U.S. will also face Jamaica, Feb. 3 in Tennessee, players will then be released to their MLS clubs to prepare for the preseason.

Zardes is returning from a broken fifth metarasal in his right foot suffered in August and that sidelined him for the remainder of the MLS season. He has made 31 appearances for the national team.

For Lletget, this is his first national team call-up. Lletget joined the Galaxy during the 2015 season and has made 40 starts, with eight goals and 10 assists.

As expected, the list is made up of all MLS players. This is still a group that has World Cup qualifying experience. There are 15 players among the group with such experience.

“We’re real excited about the camp coming up,” Arena said. “We’re looking forward to working with that group. We want to evaluate these 32 players and try to project ahead to the qualifiers in March and see if any of these players can position themselves to help our team in qualifying.”

Here is the complete list:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (5): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)

DEFENDERS (10): DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Greg Garza (Atlanta United FC), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Taylor Kemp (D.C. United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

MIDFIELDERS (12): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (Unattached), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)

FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

 

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Bruce Arena fills out his U.S. Men’s National Team coaching staff

Bruce Arena filled out his coaching staff with the U.S. Men’s national soccer team and it has a familiar look.

arenastaffDave Sarachan, Pat Noonan, Kenny Arena and Matt Reis were all added to the staff, all four coached with Arena during his tenure with the Galaxy.

Sarachan was Arena’s assistant from 2000-2002 with the national team and at the University of Virginia (1984-88), D.C. United (1998-99) and as the Associate Head Coach with the Galaxy (2008-2016).

Noonan was an assistant with the Galaxy for the past four seasons and Kenny Arena, Bruce’s son was an assistant with the Galaxy for three seasons.

Reis (Santa Margarita HS) will serve as the goalkeeping coach. He’s held the same position for the past two seasons for the Galaxy.

It was also announced that former U.S. U-20 national team coach Thomas Rongen has joined on as the Chief Scout.

The U.S. will open their January training camp next week at the StubHub Center. They will face Serbia in a friendly, Jan. 29 in San Diego.

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