USMNT roster announced for World Cup Qualifying and Clint Dempsey returns

Dempsey, Howard, Cameron are back on US roster for qualifiers

United States men's national team head coach Bruce Arena announced his 24-man roster for the third and fourth rounds of the Hexagonal in CONCACAF 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying on Wednesday. Geoff Cameron will also return from injury (MCL sprain) and make his first appearance for the USA since their 2-0 win over Cuba in October 2016.

Those decisions, as well as several surprises, highlighted Arena's 24-man squad for matches against Honduras on March 24 at San Jose's Avaya Stadium and Panama on the road March 28.

The top three nations from CONCACF qualify for the World Cup in Russian Federation next year, and the No.4 team meets Asia's fifth-place finisher in a playoff for another berth. Arena could also use Fabian Johnson or Acosta in that spot, but USMNT fans will be happy to see that he seemingly intends on using them in the midfield.

The Americans face must-win situations in the coming two games starting next Friday against Honduras and then four days later in Panama. "We know there are some good days still ahead for Clint". The annual January Camp was made up nearly exclusively of M.L.S. players since the European leagues and Liga MX were in season and those clubs were not required to release their MNT members.

The 34-year-old former Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur standout was benched for the last four months of the 2016 Major League Soccer campaign.

But there was no room in the squad for Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan, a finalist in last year's MLS MVP race.

The roster features 19 players with previous World Cup Qualifying experience. Cameron, who is primarily a central figure, is also an option on the right side.

Johnson is going to play in the midfield, which Arena called his natural position.

Stuttgart's Julian Green, Sporting Kansas City's Benny Feilhaber and Tijuana's Paul Arriola were passed over in favor of the Los Angeles Galaxy's Sebastian Lletget and Portland Timbers' Darlington Nagbe. Arena also didn't call up Bundesliga fullback Timothy Chandler because of a one-game suspension for yellow cards. Arena recently said he would be "very cautious" with Dempsey, who has started in each of the Sounders' first two 2017 regular-season matches. "He's a domestic player, so I think that makes a little more sense".

His first competitive roster includes numerous names you'd expect on any full-strength USMNT squad list such as Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, and Fabian Johnson. "We put together a roster that we think has balance and gives us an option in playing a number of different ways. To have that kind of player available I think is invaluable".

The United States is getting its most prolific goal-scorer back for a key round of World Cup qualifiers.

Tim Howard is back.

Training camp will open Monday in the San Jose area.

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