Bruce Arena has confirmed that he will call up DaMarcus Beasley, who previously retired from international football and has not played for USA in 17 months, for his training camp in January. Matt Hedges, Kekuta Manneh and Dax McCarty, none of whom played for the Stars and Stripes in 2016, will also earn recalls, while Chris Pontius, Keegan Rosenberry and Walker Zimmerman will be summoned for the first time.
"Players who haven't been around in a bit will be back in camp,” said Arena. “We're excited about looking at some of these MLS players and see if they're going to be in position to help us in 2017.
"Probably two-thirds of the pool is comprised of players from Major League Soccer, so this camp is going to be very important. We are going to depend on a lot of players from MLS. The January camp is going to help answer some questions we have."
USA will face Serbia in San Diego on 29 January 2017 in a friendly aimed at preparing them for March’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifiers at home to Honduras and away to Panama. The US are bottom of the Hexagonal standings in CONCACAF, having lost 2-1 to Mexico and 4-0 to Costa Rica last month – results which prompted Jurgen Klinsmann to be dismissed and replaced by Arena.
Beasley, the only American to play in four World Cups, has 123 caps to his name – only Cobi Jones (164), Landon Donovan (157), Jeff Agoos (134), Clint Dempsey (130), Marcelo Balboa (128) and Michael Bradley (126) have more. The 34-year-old Houston Dynamo No7 retired from international duty in December 2014, but reversed his decision to participate in the following year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. However, Beasley made just one appearance in the tournament – he missed USA’s final penalty in the shoot-out, as they lost to Panama in the battle for bronze – and has not played for his country since.
Juan Agudelo, who scored on his USA debut against South Africa, six days after his 18th birthday in 2010, is another man back in the fold. The Colombia-born New England Revolution forward came on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with New Zealand in October – it was just his sixth cap in four years – but was omitted from Klinsmann’s last squad.
USA are bidding to qualify for an eighth straight World Cup. They beat Portugal and Poland to a place in the knockout phase at Korea/Japan 2002 before beating arch-rivals Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16, courtesy of goals from Donovan and Brian McBride. The US then gave an admirable account of themselves in the quarter-finals, but a fine performance from Oliver Kahn and an unanswered Michael Ballack header sent Germany through.