U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced his roster for the next two qualifying matches and Sporting KC's Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were both on it. "It's always an honor," Matt Besler stated. "I never take it for granted, I'm excited to represent my country. We're about business this trip, trying to get points from both of these games."
The U.S. resumes 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying against Costa Rica on Sept. 6 in San Jose followed up by hosting Mexico in Columbus on Sept 10th. Costa Rica had planned on playing the match at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, nicknamed ‘The Monster's Cave' because of its hard artificial surface and steep stands towering over the field as revenge for the snow game in Colorado. The ‘Ticos' were unable to get the stadium up to FIFA minimums so the match will be played at the more modern Estadio Nacional.
"Costa Rica is a tough place to play, it's a good thing we aren't playing on that turf field, it's certainly going to help us play the style that we would like to play," Graham Zusi stated after practice. "Mexico at home is Mexico at home. It's a game you that you love to be part of, it's a massive rivalry. The momentum we have had in the past few games hopefully we will be able to carry that into these two games and get some results."
The U.S. is in first place in the final round of qualifying, with 13 points from the first six matches. Along with Jamaica, the U.S. is joined by Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama competing in the 10-game round-robin Final Round. The top three teams in the Hexagonal automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place finisher will contest a two-game playoff against Oceania region winner New Zealand.
Besler and Zusi will leave on Sunday to join the U.S. camp and will miss Sporting KC's match versus the Crew at Sporting park on Sept 7th.
The U.S. is feeling confident
Klinsmann's squad is riding a record-setting 12-match winning streak that began June 2 with a 4-3 victory against then second-ranked Germany in the Centennial Celebration Match and includes three wins in World Cup Qualifying and six straight victories en route to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship. "We are certainly on a great run here," Zusi admitted. "Twelve games against some pretty formidable opponents as well. I think we are playing with a great deal of confidence, we are a tough team to beat right now."
Besler agreed the team is filled with confidence but doesn't worry about the streak. "We are certainly aware of the winning streak but we aren't worried about it at all, we are just going to take it one game at a time and hopefully take care of business."
Zusi feeling healthy
Sporting Kansas City fans worst fears were realized when Zusi left the MLS All Star game early with an injured quad and then proceeded to miss several games before finally returning the lineup last weekend in Chicago. Zusi also played in SKC's win against Olimpia in Honduras on Tuesday.
Having to miss several matches and training time did not worry Zusi about his chances for call up. "I was going to take it as it came," explained Zusi. "If I wasn't fit I'm sure there would have been a question but I am back to 100% now so they thought it was safe enough to call me in."
"Getting three games under my belt in a short week will definitely help to get me back to full match fitness and playing in a hostile environment like Honduras will only help," Zusi continued.
For Zusi, getting experience with the both the U.S. and Sporting Kansas City just continues to feed success for both club and country. "Those kinds of games it will really help you, just the experience alone, it helps you to know what those kinds of games bring. When you have success in those areas, you can really use that to continue to have success. Whether it's a type of game plan or just what to expect from opposing teams, crowds or referees, that kind of experience is invaluable when it comes to going down there again," described Zusi.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3):Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)