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Fabian Johnson left off of U.S. squad; Feilhaber and Agudelo included

Max Bretos and Herculez Gomez use their weekly podcast to discuss Alexi Lalas' polarizing rant about the USMNT's struggles.
The guys celebrate Herc becoming a father, evaluate the best teams in MLS and dissect critical comments about the USMNT.

With the United States in a precarious position in 2018 World Cup qualifying, manager Bruce Arena has named a 26-man squad with familiar faces for the final two games against Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Americans are fourth in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, level with Honduras on nine points and just a point behind Panama.

They face the Canaleros in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 6 and travel to meet the Soca Warriors at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva four days later.

"It's a roster we've selected that we believe will give us success in these next two games," Arena said.

"We have a pretty balanced roster with experienced players. The players always give the commitment, that's never an issue. The issue is whether we get the results we need, and I think we're positioned to do that.

"I think if it comes down to where we need four or six points in our last two games, I think that's fine and we'll get it done."

The number of players called up reflects the fact that some, such as Geoff Cameron and DeAndre Yedlin, have just returned from injury.

The U.S. also has nine players who are on caution watch entering the match -- Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, DaMarcus Beasley, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Cameron and Yedlin will serve a one-match suspension with their next yellow card. 


That said, Arena's selections did contain a few surprises. There was no room for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Fabian Johnson, who, given his ability to play in either midfield or defense, was expected to be included.

But Johnson has logged just 181 minutes at club level since the start of the campaign.That lack of playing time likely factored into his omission.

One surprise inclusion is Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who scarcely featured during Jurgen Klinsmann's time in charge.

When Arena took over and called up the midfielder for the team's January training camp, it looked as though Feilhaber might get more looks.

But after appearing in a pair of friendlies earlier this year -- he assisted on the loan U.S. tally in a 1-0 win over Jamaica -- Feilhaber was not called up again until now, hinting that Arena wanted an additional creative spark.

New England Revolution attacker Juan Agudelo and Club Tijuana defender Michael Orozco were also surprise inclusions, though the absence of injured Jordan Morris played a factor in Agudelo's recall.

Otherwise, the roster comprises familiar names, with 17 of the 26 players having seen time during the past two World Cup qualifiers in early September.

The presence of Gyasi Zardes, who has endured a difficult season with the LA Galaxy, was also unexpected, although he was forced to withdraw from the team later on Sunday with a groin strain after hobbling off in Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake, leaving the squad with 25 players.

The full squad:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)


Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)

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