Jurgen Klinsmann released his final roster for this summer’s Copa America Centenario over the weekend. The 23 players who made the cut from the initial 40-man call-up represent an intriguing mix of familiar standbys, new faces, and old favorites who’ve been welcomed back into the fold.
Tim Howard returns for another stint in goal for the U.S. However, the former Everton man, now of the Colorado Rapids, is no longer the first-choice keeper for the Yanks. That honor will instead fall to Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan. 20-year-old Ethan Horvath, of Norwegian side Molde FK rounds out the goalkeeping roster.
In defense, the area where the U.S. arguably has the greatest depth, Klinsmann has been able to call on the experience of a number of players who ply their trades in Europe’s top leagues. As we’ve come to expect from Klinsmann’s teams, there’s a heavy Bundesliga contingent with John Brooks of Hertha Berlin, Timmy Chandler of Eintracht Frankfurt and Fabian Johnson of Borussia Monchengladbach all making the squad.
The three German-Americans are joined by the U.S.’s two standout players in the English Premier League currently: Geoff Cameron of Stoke City and DeAndre Yedlin of Tottenham Hotspur. Matt Besler of Sporting KC, Steve Birnbaum of D.C. United and Club Tijuana’s Michael Orozco are the only defenders not based in Europe to make the squad.
In the midfield we find familiar names like Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Graham Zusi and Alejandro Bedoya. Darlington Nagbe, the standout player in Portland Timbers’ run to its first MLS Cup championship last season has been included. Perry Kitchen, a defensive midfielder who moved from D.C. United to Scottish side Hearts also made the cut. But perhaps the most exciting new addition is Christian Pulisic, the 17-year-old attacking sensation who’s scored two Bundesliga goals for Borussia Dortmund since being handed his first-team debut earlier this year.
With regular first-choice striker Jozy Altidore unavailable due to a hamstring injury, Klinsmann has had to make some adjustments in the attack. Clint Dempsey is back, perhaps more for the leadership and experience he brings to the team than for his present form with his club side Seattle Sounders. San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski, currently the top American scorer in MLS, also makes his return to the side, as does LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes.
Most intriguingly, he’s called up Bobby Wood, a 23-year-old whose 17 goals for Union Berlin in the German second division have just earned him a transfer to Bundesliga side Hamburger SV.
Surprise omissions from the squad include experienced defender Omar Gonzalez, formerly of LA Galaxy, now with Pachuca, and Jordan Morris, the 21-year-old striker who spurned an offer to join Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga to sign a deal with Seattle Sounders.
With Klinsmann’s position perhaps more tenuous than at any other time during his five years in charge of the USMNT, the German tactician will be hoping he made the right decisions in terms of his selection.
The U.S.A. faces Ecuador in the second of three warm-up matches before the tournament kicks off. Watch the match on Wednesday, May 25 at 8pm ET on ESPN2.