USMNT roster for Brazil includes a number of MLS stars
The youthful U.S. men’s national team roster pulled together for Friday’s match against Brazil includes a number of Major League Soccer standouts.
The Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew each have three players on interim coach Dave Sarachan’s roster heading into the game in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The list includes Gyasi Zardes, the most capped among the MLS players with 38 national team appearances. Meanwhile, Red Bulls defender Aaron Long is looking for his first cap. In all, 12 of the domestic league’s players got a call-up.
MLS takes a break for international play with just a few games scheduled over the next week, including Orlando City at Sporting Kansas City and Portland’s game against the visiting Colorado Rapids, both set for Saturday. It’s the first such break since the World Cup this summer in Russia.
Nearly 60 total MLS players have been tapped for international duty.
“It is what it is,” Sporting coach Peter Vermes said. “That’s the way the league is, but it’s a good contest for us coming back home. We’re going to have to be good on the ball. We’ll miss a few guys, but we’ll be able to put some other guys in to play.”
The Crew, who are in playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, don’t play again until next week, but the notable absences and the push for the playoffs make this a hectic time of year, said coach Greg Berhalter.
“This is a vital stretch of the season, and you want to get guys in top form as you move towards the end of the season,” he said.
VET ZARDES: The forward is 26 and among the older players on a U.S. roster where the average age is 23 years, 241 days. He leads the Crew with 15 goals this season, ranked behind only Josef Martinez (28), the Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips (16) and the Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (16) in the league. He’s one goal shy of his career high. Zardes has been in MLS since 2013, but is in his first season with the Crew.
RED BULL DEFENDERS: Long was the USL’s Defender of the Year in 2016 and the next year made 30 starts for the Red Bulls. Originally drafted by the Timbers in 2014 out of UC Riverside, Long played for several lower-tier teams before his debut last season. Long is joined on the US roster by fellow defender Tim Parker, who played in a pair of matches for the USMNT in June. The Red Bulls, who have already clinched a playoff spot, have allowed just 29 goals this season, second best in the league.
KEEPERS: With Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan already a known commodity, Sarachan left him off the roster, instead including MLS goalkeeper Alex Bono from Toronto FC and Zack Steffen of the Crew, as well as Ethan Horvath from Belgium’s Club Brugge. Steffen, who has three caps with the national team, has started in 22 games for the Crew this season with eight shutouts. Bono, originally from Syracuse, New York, has 20 starts in league games this year.
LLETGET RETURNS TO ROSTER: Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget hasn’t played for the U.S. since the team’s 6-0 victory over Honduras in a World Cup qualifying match in March 2017. He scored the team’s first goal in the game, but then left with a serious foot injury that required surgery. He’s unlikely to play against Brazil on Friday because of an injury that’s kept him out of practice with the team.
WORLDWIDE: Among the international players called up for duty was Josef Martinez, who recently set the league’s single-season record for goals with 28. He is joined on Venezuela’s roster by Real Salt Lake’s Jefferson Savarino, D.C. United midfielder Junior Moreno, and the Galaxy’s Rolf Feltscher. Costa Rica also has four MLS players, while Panama has five for its upcoming friendlies.