United States calls up Matt Miazga, Darlington Nagbe for first time
United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called up New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga and Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe for the first time as he announced the squad for the Americans' first qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
Clint Dempsey was a notable absence to the squad as the U.S. begins its road to Russia in St. Louis against St. Vincent and the Grenadines next Friday, followed by a trip to Trinidad and Tobago four days later.
Miazga has played for both U.S. and Poland youth national teams, and he expressed interested from playing for Poland as recently this week.
But he played for the U.S. at the Under-20 World Cup this summer and also featured for the Americans' under-23 side in Olympic qualifying in October. Appearing in a World Cup qualifier this month would permanently tie him to the United States.
"Matt is a youngster coming through our system," Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer's website. "He played for the under-20s and he played for the Olympic team.
Nagbe was born in Liberia but moved to the U.S. at an early age. He is eligible to suit up for the Americans after becoming a citizen in September.
"In Darlington Nagbe we have a player who we've been following for quite a while and he finally became eligible for the United States," Klinsmann said.
"We are looking forward to having them with us. They will get their first taste of the senior national team. I'm pretty sure they will be excited and want to do well. It's good to see that we have players coming through and give us more of an option."
Miazga and Nagbe, along with reserve goalkeeper Bill Hamid, were the only players called up from MLS teams who are still active in the playoffs.
Dempsey's Seattle Sounders are playing in the Western Conference semifinals, but Klinsmann didn't cite MLS as the reason he left Dempsey off the team.
"At this point in time, I want to give the younger strikers a chance to prove themselves and this is a good stage to do it," Klinsmann said. "I communicated with Clint about it and it's all fine."
Those young strikers are Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes, all of whom have previous national team experience but have not played in a World Cup qualifier.
Klinsmann said quite a few veteran players were not available because of injuries.
"Unfortunately we do not have Alejandro Bedoya on the roster because he's still not back in place right now after he was sick around the Mexico game," Kinsmann said. "Nick Rimando is not available and Brad Evans, who pulled his hamstring with the Seattle Sounders, is not available either.
"We have players in place who are ready to come in and make their marks. We'll make the best out of it. We hope for them to get back on the field as quickly as possible."
Borussia Monchengladbach's Fabian Johnson was called to the squad despite a spat last month with Klinsmann, who was angered the defender asked to come off in the 111th minute of the Oct. 10 playoff against Mexico for a Confederations Cup berth. The U.S. lost 3-2, and Klinsmann sent Johnson back to Germany before a friendly against Costa Rica on Oct. 13, saying "he can rethink his approach about his team."
The full U.S. squad:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton)
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Michael Orozco (Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Brek Shea (Orlando City)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Leon)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Alan Gordon (LA Galaxy), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)