The team, which will gather for training in Miami, plays Friday in Guatemala City (7 p.m. PT beINSport, NBC Universo) and March 29 in Columbus, Ohio (4 p.m. ESPN2, UniMas, Univision Deportes). Wins in both games would almost certainly be enough to send the U.S. on to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, which begins in November.
"The goal is clear," U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann said. "The goal is we would like to beat them in Guatemala City and then beat them as well in Columbus in front of our fans."
The U.S. leads its four-team qualifying group after two games and need only finish in the top two to advance to the hexagonal round. It hasn't lost to Guatemala in 28 years, although it has won just one of its last four games in Guatemala City, dating to 1989
Gonzalez, who left the Galaxy for Pachuca of Mexico's Liga MX in December, was passed over in the last two national team call-ups. But in a recent interview posted on U.S. Soccer's website, Klinsmann said the World Cup veteran rehabilitated himself after his move to Mexico.
"When he went down to Pachuca, everybody was a bit surprised about his decision," Klinsmann said. "And from Day 1 on he was very determined and focused to make a statement.
"Not only did he become a starter right away [but] he made a big difference in most of the games. Defensively, obviously, with his very strong presence. And also his capabilities to play out of the back or here and there even go with the ball into midfield."
Gonzalez will be reunited with former teammates Gyasi Zardes, who scored twice in the Galaxy's 3-1 win over the
"I'm ready," Zardes, whose goals Saturday were his first since November, said of the call-up. "I see it as an opportunity to keep working hard, keep learning. Because I feel like every time I go with the national team I learn so much from the coaching staff but also the players who play in different leagues.
"Just playing alongside those guys really helped me progress as a player. And as I keep going, I hope to get better."
Other call-ups include goalkeeper Tim Howard, whose long-rumored move from England's Everton FC to the
Dempsey, the leading active scorer for the national team, has 13 goals in World Cup qualifying, matching the retired
Fifteen of the 26 players named to the roster were on the 2014 World Cup team and 18 have played in World Cup qualifying.
Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes),
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC),