With his back to the wall heading into the final two World Cup qualifiers, U.S. national team coach
And one of those rolls of the dice has already come up snake eyes with the
The U.S. team is scheduled to begin training in Orlando, Fla., on Monday. Zardes will not be replaced on the roster, leaving the U.S. with 25 players.
Zardes' inclusion on the preliminary U.S. roster was surprising since he had been passed over for the U.S.'s first six qualifiers under Arena and has struggled for the Galaxy this season, scoring a career-low two goals in 23 games.
But his name wasn't the only one on the roster that was followed by a question mark.
Also called up were forward
Among the notable omissions were midfielders
The U.S. has little room for error in its final two qualifiers, against Panama on Friday in Orlando, and Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10. The Americans are fourth, a point behind Panama, in the six-team CONCACAF tournament and only the top three earn automatic berths to next summer's World Cup in Russia.
The U.S. can secure a spot by winning its last two games, but anything short of that would require the Americans to get help from Costa Rica and Mexico, who play their final games against Panama and fifth-place Honduras, respectively.
"It's a roster we've selected that we believe will give us success in these next two games," Arena said. "We have a pretty balanced roster with experienced players, and if any issues arise, I think we have cover in all positions. We need to anticipate some issues with players with injuries, as well as suspensions."
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Juan Agudelo (
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC),