U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann (still getting used to that) called in 24 players for upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica (Sept 2, 11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2) and Belgium (Sept 6, 2:30 p.m., ESPN).
He made five changes from the team that tied Mexico on Aug 10, leaving out Germany-based players Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Edson Buddle, and Ricardo Clark, along with new Philadelphia Union midfielder Freddy Adu.
In their places Klinsmann called in Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, former German youth international Fabian Johnson (top right), Fulham attacker Clint Dempsey, in-form striker Jozy Altidore of AZ Alkmaar, and Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury.
German-American Timothy Chandler, who was invited for the Mexico friendly but withdrew because of a minor injury, is also in the current group. He plays his club ball for FC Nuremberg, lining up in defense or midfield.
Of the absent Bradley, Jones, and Clark, Klinsmann told the USSF website, “All three of these players are trying to sort out their club situations, and the deadline for transfers is a week away. They have also not been playing matches, so for these reasons we decided to select different players for this roster.”
But the name on most observers’ lips when the roster was released yesterday afternoon was that of Johnson, a 21-year-old defender-midfielder who plays his club ball for Hoffenheim.
Like Chandler, Johnson was born in Germany to an American serviceman father and German mother. He has played for 1860 Munich and Wolfsburg, and was a starter, alongside Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, on the German U-21 team that thrashed England 4-0 for the 2009 UEFA Under-21 Championship.
Johnson will have to file an allegiance switch with FIFA if he is to play in any official competitions with the U.S. (a move that would then tie him permanently to the U.S. senior team).
For Hoffenheim, Johnson plays right midfield (and has drawn two penalties and produced one assist in three league games this season), but he can also play on the backline or as a holding midfielder.
The Costa Rica game will be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and the Belgium match is scheduled for King Badouin Stadium in Brussels.
Here is the complete U.S. roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nuremberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
What do you think of the roster? Surprised to see Castillo get another nod? (We are.) Happy to see Johnson and Chandler in the team? Any other complaints, surprises? Let us know in the comments.