Monday, February 4, 2013
Seven former PDL standouts, and other alumni from the USL pyramid, were announced in the U.S. Men’s National Team squad that will face Honduras on Wednesday in the opening game of the final stage of World Cup Qualifying.
All three goalkeepers named to the squad have USL ties, with current starter Tim Howard having begun his career with the North Jersey Imperials in the USL D3 Pro League, making 16 appearances in his rookie professional season. Backup goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson are both alumni of the PDL, with Guzan having played for the Chicago Fire PDL, recording a 0.388 goals-against average and eight shutouts in 13 starts in 2004 to claim PDL All-League honors.
Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron leads the defensive group, with the former midfielder having made 33 appearances for the Rhode Island Stingrays between 2005 and 2007. Cameron had four goals and an assist in the 2006 campaign, while appearing in all 16 matches.
Cameron is joined by former Orange County Blue Star standout Brad Evans, who appeared in 14 games for the Blue Star, and Michael Parkhurst, who played 10 games for IMG Academy Bradenton in 2003. Also included in the group is Michael Besler, who previously appeared in exhibition contests for the Kansas City Brass, but not in an official PDL contest.
The midfield is highlighted by the recall of former Ventura County Fusion standout Sacha Kljestan, now starring for Anderlecht in Belgium. Kljestan had a goal and an assist in his brief spell with Orange County, playing on the same side as Evans, Robbie Rogers and Kei Kamara, who earned All-Western Conference Honors with 12 goals in 14 games that season.
Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi was also selected, with the former Central Florida Kraze standout building off a strong 2012 in MLS that saw him named to the league’s Bext XI. Zusi made 10 appearances for the Kraze in 2005, helping his side reach the PDL playoffs.
Former Seattle Sounders forward Herculez Gomez is part of a four-man attacking group, with the current standout for Santos Laguna in Mexico looking to add to his tally of two World Cup Qualifying goals in San Pedro Sula. Former Super Y-League ODP selection Jozy Altidore is also included, with the strong forward currently having an outstanding season for AZ in the Netherlands.
Wednesday afternoon’s game can be seen on BeIN Sport at 4 p.m. ET as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side looks to take a positive first step toward the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.