(Reuters) - United States coach Juergen Klinsmann has freshened up his central defensive options by calling up Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras.
The final stage of qualifying from the CONCACAF region, covering North and Central America and the Caribbean, kicks off with a tough road trip for the United States and the former Germany coach has moved to shore up his back line which has struggled at times in the previous phase of qualifying.
Besler and Gonzalez play in Major League Soccer, for Sporting Kansas City and L.A. Galaxy respectively, and while they have featured in friendly games they have yet to play in World Cup quaRNAlifiers.
Six teams feature in the final qualifying stage with Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Panama also vying for the three automatic slots for next year’s finals in Brazil.
The fourth placed team in the group will play off, over two legs, with the winner of the Oceania region for another spot in the finals.
Honduras qualified for the last World Cup, in South Africa in 2010, and will be tough opponents on their home turf in San Pedro Sula.
“We want to have a sense of urgency right from the start of the final round,” said Klinsmann.
“We have a lot of respect for Honduras, but our message to the team is that we are going there to get three points. One thing we learned from the semi-final round is that you have to bring the right mentality to play in the tough games on the road, and I’m confident we are ready to do that,” he added.
AS Roma’s Michael Bradley will be at the heart of the U.S. midfield while Tottenham Hotspur forward Clint Dempsey is expected to start in attack alongside Jozy Altidore or Herculez Gomez.
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
Defenders: Tim Chandler (Nuremburg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (L.A. Galaxy), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg).
Midfielders: Michael Bradley (AS Roma), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Jose Torres (Tigres), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht).
Forwards: Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Herculez Gomez (Santos)
Reporting By Simon Evans