U.S. adds Jonathan Spector to roster
Calling his roster vs. Ukraine experienced and confident, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann rounded out his March 5 exhibition slate to 22 players with Sunday's addition of Birmingham City defender Jonathan Spector.
"There is a wave of players, who have made a name for themselves on the international stage. They have the experience and the confidence to play in the big leagues," Klinsmann told the German media Sunday in reference to players like Seattle forward Clint Dempsey, who recently returned to MLS, Hoffenheim’s Fabian Johnson or Besiktas’ Jermaine Jones and Everton’s Tim Howard.
Other than Dempsey, who completed a two-month loan to England's Fulham, Klinsmann did not select any MLS players whose teams open on March 8-9. The only other player not based in Europe on this squad is Tijuana defender Edgar Castillo. On Sunday, U.S. Soccer announced that midfielders Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud and defender Tim Ream would not see action on Wednesday.
The U.S. team currently is in Germany to prepare for Wednesday's friendly, which will be played on Cyprus due to the Crimea crisis in the Ukraine.
Spector hadn't been picked for the roster since September 2012 and hasn't appeared for the national team since an exhibition win at Italy in February 2012. He tweeted about the announcement on Sunday.
Looking forward to meeting up with the #USMNT and the match against Ukraine.— Jonathan Spector (@JSpector23) March 3, 2014
The Ukraine match will be the penultimate test for Klinsmann’s squad ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with the last test to be played against Mexico in Phoenix on April 2, the second day of the Champions League quarterfinal first-leg fixtures.
The U.S. team has a realistic chance to qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup, Klinsmann told German press on Sunday.
Speaking to German press in Frankfurt on Sunday, Klinsmann said that the U.S. will not bemoan the World Cup draw, which includes Germany, Portugal, and Ghana -- a group that has already been dubbed "Group of Death."
"We believe that is realistic that we are in contention for a place in the knockout stages," Klinsmann said. "Certainly, Germany are group favourites and Portugal also has a big name. But we stayed on course the past two and half years. This has given us a lot confidence, and has also shown us that we can compete with the big nations."
The U.S. Soccer Federation released a new home jersey Monday designed by Nike and resembling a golf shirt with a white polo collar. The collar and the sleeves have red trim, and the shorts and socks also are white.
The uniform will be used by the men's and women's teams, and it will be worn in a game for the first time in Wednesday's exhibition against Ukraine in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Bradley stayed with FC Toronto for what the U.S. Soccer Federation said was treatment of a minor issue ahead of its MLS opener at Seattle on March 15.
Diskerud has a right hip injury and Ream was excused after his wife gave birth.
The revised 22-man roster (x-not eligible to play):
Defenders: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin, Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke, England), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana, Mexico), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt, Germany), Oguchi Onyewu (Sheffield Wednesday, England), Will Packwood (Birmingham, England), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham, England)
Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes, France), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim, Germany), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas, Turkey), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Brek Shea (Barnsley, England), Danny Williams (Reading, England)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (Utrecht, Netherlands), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland, England), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, Austria), Clint Dempsey (Seattle), x-Julian Green (Bayern Munich, Germany), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands)
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.