USA national football team calls Dempsey, Howard for WC2018 qualifying

Doyle BarkerMar 17, 2017

The US host Honduras at San Jose, California, on March 24 (March 25 AEDT) and are away at Panama four days later.

Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi, a right-wing-turned-right-back with World Cup experience in midfield, was not included in the defensive or midfield corps.

Dempsey leads a strong core of veterans called in for qualifiers the USA can't afford to lose after suffering defeats in its first two matches of the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying, against Mexico and Costa Rica in November.

"Clint has a history that is nearly second to none", Arena said in a statement issued by U.S. Soccer.

The top three nations in the North and Central American and Caribbean hexagonal qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, and the No. 4 team meets Asia's fifth-place finisher in a playoff for another berth.

"If you put pencil to paper here, we go nowhere unless we come out of these games with points, and by that I mean three points or more", Arena said Wednesday during a Facebook Live chat.

The former Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty, who was traded to Chicago during Major League Soccer's off-season, was named to the roster, as were Jermaine Jones, Tim Ream (another former Red Bulls player) and Kellyn Acosta. However, Defeating Honduras and Panama would lift the USA into firm contention for a spot in the World Cup with six games remaining. In addition to Kljestan, Arena decided not to choose defender Timothy Chandler, who would have missed the Honduras match on a suspension; Kansas City veterans Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Benny Feilhaber; defender Steve Birnbaum; Julian Green; and DeAndre Yedlin, who is injured, as was Eric Lichaj, who was hurt last weekend playing for Nottingham Forest. He has four goals for his club this season and has down well in attack. Arena said he won't decide on his starting goalkeeper until after training camp opens Monday in San Jose. It looks likely that Geoff Cameron or Michael Orozco Fiscal - usually central defenders - will slide over. The 24-man squad includes several mainstays of recent years, like DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.

"That's certainly an option, depending on how we line up", Arena said.

The full back positions remain a concern for the United States of America, and DeAndre Yedlin's thigh injury only compounds the problem.

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