Coach Juergen Klinsmann finalized his 23-man United States team for the Copa America Centenario on Saturday, settling on a roster than offers a mix of both youth and experience.
Fifteen of those chosen were on Klinsmann’s team for the last World Cup while five others have appeared in fewer than six games for the national team. Eight players are at least 30 years old while five are younger than 24, including Borussia Dortmund forward Christian Pulisic, who is 17.
Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes made the cut but former teammate Omar Gonzalez, now playing for Pachuca of Mexico’s Liga MX, did not. Perhaps the biggest omission was that of 21-year-old forward Jordan Morris of the Seattle Sounders. His spot went to San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, 33, one of 11 Major League Soccer players to make the team. That list also includes Colorado’s Jermaine Jones, Seattle’s Clint Dempsey, Toronto’s Michael Bradley and Portland’s Darlington Nagbe.
“The roster really was put together based on what we saw over the last year. And it’s one that makes us the strongest team possible to compete in Copa America and to hopefully surprise a lot of people,” Klinsmann said.
Some of those called up Saturday will play in Sunday’s exhibition in Puerto Rico before joining the rest of the Copa America squad for tuneups against Ecuador on Wednesday in suburban Dallas and against Bolivia on May 28 in Kansas City, Kan.
The U.S. will meet Colombia in the Copa America opener June 3 in Santa Clara before concluding group play against Costa Rica in Chicago and Paraguay in Philadelphia. The 16-team, 23-day tournament will be played in 10 U.S. cities, including Pasadena, which will host three games.
Rosters for the other 15 teams in the tournament also had to be finalized this weekend and there were few surprises.
A star-studded Argentina squad will include five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi and a supporting cast featuring Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria and Messi’s Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano.
Colombia will have midfielder James Rodriguez of Real Madrid, the leading scorer in the 2014 World Cup, but will again be without forward Radamel Falcao, who was last called up in October. Chile, which won this tournament a year ago, is led by Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez while Uruguay will have Barcelona forward Luis Suarez, who led all European players with 62 goals in 56 games this season.
Brazil, which arrives in Southern California on Sunday to begin training, is not bringing Neymar, instead saving him for the Olympic Games, which will be played in Rio de Janeiro. There were some other big names missing from the roster as well, among them Chelsea midfielder Oscar; former world player of the year Kaka, now with Orlando City; and Paris Saint-Germain teammates David Luiz and Thiago Silva.
Mexico will be without Galaxy attacker Giovani dos Santos and mercurial forward Carlos Silva of Real Sociedad.
The U.S. roster:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Ethan Horvath (Molde IK)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders/forwards: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), Gyasi Zardes (Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).