USMNT set to face New Zealand tonight in Washington, D.C.
(Via U.S. Soccer) – The U.S. Men’s National Team plays its last match before the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup when they take on New Zealand on Tuesday at iconic RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. Kicking off at 8 p.m. ET, the match can be seen live on ESPN and UniMas.
Coming off a 2-0 win against Cuba in Havana on Friday, the MNT faces New Zealand for the third time and first since a 2-1 victory on June 8, 2003 in nearby Richmond, Va. The two sides first met in the opening match of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, also a 2-1 win which pushed the U.S. on to a third-place finish at the tournament in Mexico.
Just as the U.S. will use the game as its last test before opening “the Hex” next month against Mexico (Nov. 11) and at Costa Rica (Nov. 15), New Zealand will also utilize Tuesday’s contest as its final warm-up before embarking on the third round of Oceanic Football Confederation qualifying, which opens next month against New Caledonia.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Danny Williams (Reading)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Terrence Boyd (RB Leipzig), Julian Green (Bayern Munich)
COMPETITION HEATS UP AHEAD OF THE HEX
With the depth chart filling up in positions all over the field, competition will be fierce for the coveted 23 spots on the roster for the huge opening game of the Hex against rivals Mexico and the away trip to the venomous confines of Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica. While there are a host of regulars in the squad, there are a number of players looking to “make their case” for inclusion in November.
Coming off a two-and-a-half year absence from the National Team, Sacha Kljestan rose to the occasion upon his recall last month, tallying two goals and two assists in World Cup Qualifying matches vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said this week he hoped some of the players recalled for this camp would follow Kljestan’s example over the next two matches, while the veteran U.S. midfielder admitted he’s hoping to use games against Cuba and New Zealand as an audition for a starting XI spot when the Hex opens next month.
ROSTER CHANGES ANNOUNCED
Following the MNT’s 2-0 win in Havana, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced a number of roster changes, allowing players based both in MLS and abroad the opportunity to return to their clubs early to prepare for upcoming matches. The nine departures opened the door for seven players to join the team, with Kellyn Acosta, Juan Agudelo, Matt Besler, Terrence Boyd, Bill Hamid, Michael Orozco and Tim Parker arriving to take part in Tuesday’s friendly against New Zealand.
After last appearing in MNT camp more than two years ago, Boyd returns to the team after overcoming a long comeback from an ACL injury suffered at the end of 2014. Besler also returns to the side after scoring on the same day his first-born daughter Parker was born back in the MNT’s 6-0 World Cup Qualifying win at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 3 in Kingstown. Both players spoke about their returns upon rejoining the team earlier this week.
JULIAN GREEN MAKES STRONG RETURN
A last-minute addition to the U.S. roster for Friday’s match at Cuba, 21-year-old attacker Julian Green earned his second career start and repaid Jurgen Klinsmann for the opportunity when he helped set up Chris Wondolowski’s 62nd minute goal before finishing himself nine minutes later to cap the 2-0 win. With seven appearances to his credit, the Bayern Munich forward hopes to continue his form against New Zealand in an effort to replicate the output from Sacha Kljestan in his National Team return last month.
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY IN GOAL
Klinsmann has opened up a rare window of opportunity for the next generation of goalkeepers this week. Standing down veterans Brad Guzan and Tim Howard, the MNT head coach brought in David Bingham, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough for the Cuba match. Becoming one of the youngest goalkeepers all-time to debut for the MNT during Friday’s 2-0 win in Havana, Horvath was allowed to return to Norwegian club Molde following the match, leaving the door open for Bingham, Yarbrough and new addition Bill Hamid to gain time in Tuesday night’s friendly against New Zealand.
THE FORTRESS OF RFK STADIUM
Returning to RFK Stadium on Tuesday night, the MNT comes back to a place it has found a lot of success over the years. Going 15-3-5 all-time at the iconic venue, the USA enters Tuesday’s match with a nine-game unbeaten run at RFK, going 8-0-1 in a streak that dates back to a 2-1 win against Uruguay on May 12, 2002. Having hosted 23 matches since a 1-1 draw with China on Oct. 6, 1977, RFK Stadium has been the host of more MNT games than any other venue worldwide.
NEW ZEALAND NOTES
- The U.S. is 2-0-0 all-time against New Zealand, winning both previous meetings by a 2-1 score line.
- The sides first met in the opening match of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, where Jovan Kirovski and Brian McBride scored on both sides of halftime to give the U.S. three points in Guadalajara, Mexico. More recently, the teams faced off in a warm-up for the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup in nearby Richmond, Va., with Kirovski and Chris Klein scoring in the 2-1 win.
- The match also marks New Zealand’s final test before beginning the third round of OFC qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The All-Whites will take on New Caledonia in two group games on Nov. 12 and 15 before taking on Fiji on March 20 and 28, 2017.
- Captained by West Ham United center back Winston Reid, New Zealand also features a few connections to Major League Soccer. Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson has had a revelatory season, winning the starting job for Portland Timbers, while defender Kip Colvey plies his trade for San Jose Earthquakes.
- The All-Whites also feature Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 defender Deklan Wynne as well as University of Wisconsin defender Sam Brotherton.
NEW ZEALAND ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jake Gleeson (Portland Timbers), Stefan Marinovic (Unterhaching, GER), Tamati Williams (RKC Waalwijk, NED)
DEFENDERS (9): Michael Boxall (SuperSport United, RSA), Sam Brotherton (University of Wisconsin, USA), Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes, USA), Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix, NZL), Louis Fenton (Wellington Phoenix, NZL), Liam Graham (Chesterfield FC, ENG), Themistoklis Tzimpoulos (PAS Giannina, GRE), Winston Reid (West Ham United, ENG), Deklan Wynne (Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, CAN)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Henry Cameron (Blackpool United, ENG), Moses Dyer (Eastern Suburbs, NZL), Clayton Lewis (Auckland City, NZL), Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi (Auckland City, NZL), Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix, NZL), Matthew Ridentown (Wellington Phoenix, NZL), Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory, AUS)
FORWARDS (4): Kosta Barbarouses (Wellington Phoenix, NZL), Rory Fallon (Truro City, ENG), Monty Patterson (Ipswich Town, ENG), Chris Wood (Leeds United, ENG)