San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski and defender Steven Beitashour were among the initial 22 players named to the US Men’s National Team roster by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann yesterday. Then in the late evening, the roster was increased to 23 players with the surprise inclusion of forward Alan Gordon.
The trio of Earthquakes will represent the United States in an international friendly against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Wednesday evening as part of a tune-up match for World Cup qualifying.
Wondolowski has eight caps for the United States in his career, while both Beitashour and Gordon are making their first appearances in a US training camp. Wondolowski and Beitashour are expected to be available for selection in San Jose’s match at the Montreal Impact which is slated for this weekend.
Wondolowski has caught the eye of Klinsmann for his prodigious goal scoring in MLS — the striker’s 17 goals in 2012 far outpace his rivals in the race for the Golden Boot — but the Earthquakes captain has failed to find the back of the net at the national level. By his own admission, he is not the first choice US forward, but he has said he would be ready to perform at his best is called upon by Klinsmann, a drive for success that did not go unnoticed by the Nats’ head coach.
"Chris Wondolowski just keeps on building his case," said Klinsmann during a media teleconference yesterday afternoon. "He’s got a positive attitude and scores instinctual goals. With his dedication to his work, he’s a role model. He’s a role model for a lot of players out there and he’s a joy to work with."
Beitashour, who made headlines earlier this season for his remarks stating his desire to play in a World Cup — no matter if that is as a member of the US team or his family’s ancestral home of Iran. Beitashour has made it clear that representing the US is his first choice, so he is sure to be motivated to show his best to Klinsmann and the coaching staff during the Nats short training camp ahead of Wednesday’s friendly.
"Steven has built his case over the last couple of months," added Klinsmann, "and talking with Frank Yallop and getting his information was the most important step. We are pleased to bring him in. He will be welcomed here and he’ll see it is a very positive and comfortable environment where he can settle in with no problems. We are curious to see him in the couple training sessions that we have. It’s not much because we have two and a half days to prepare for a game, but obviously I’d love to see him over a longer period of time. It will be curious to get his first impression."
Gordon, who leads MLS in goals scored per 90 minutes of play and is the second-highest ranked American player in the Castrol USA MLS player index, was a shock pick to many when he was announced as a late addition to the roster yesterday evening. Seattle’s Eddie Johnson and DC United’s Chris Pontius seemed more likely picks — even fellow Earthquake Steven Lenhart had a case for inclusion in the roster. However, the MLS veteran is enjoying his best professional season ever, and with Gordon’s two-match suspension keeping him out of the Earthquakes trip to Montreal, he will be rested and ready to represent the US to the best of his abilities.
Kickoff for the USMNT’s first friendly against Mexico on Mexican soil since 1984 is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision.
U.S. MNT Mexico Friendly Roster by Position
Defenders (6): Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
Midfielders (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)