No surprises in U.S. World Cup squad
U.S. coach Bruce Arena included seven players who will be making their third trip to the finals when he announced on Monday his provisional 23-man squad for the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
There were no surprises in a squad comprising 12 American-based players and 11 who are with European clubs.
Goalkeepers Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller and Tony Meola will be involved in their third finals -- Keller and Meola were also in the squad for Italia '90.
Midfielders Cobi Jones, Claudio Reyna and Earnie Stewart and striker Joe-Max Moore are also travelling to the finals of a World Cup for the third time.
The U.S., one of only seven nations playing in the finals for the fourth time in a row, will be based in Seoul for the first round.
Their first game will be against Portugal in Suwon, South Korea on June 5. Arena's side then take on co-hosts South Korea (June 10, Daegu) and Poland (June 14, Daejeon).
"After an exhaustive process and many successes and challenges over the last four years, we've selected the 23 players who we believe will give us the best chance of success at the World Cup," said Arena.
Arena, who took over following the U.S. team's poor showing at France '98, has used a total of 73 players in the last three-and-a-half years.
In addition to the required three goalkeepers, he selected eight defenders, eight midfielders and four strikers.
"There were many difficult decisions to be made in selecting this roster," Arena said. "We now turn our attention to getting this group physically and mentally prepared for the challenges of the World Cup.
"We're looking forward to focusing for the next five weeks on continuing to improve as a team. I'm confident that come June 5 this team will be equipped to give a great performance in Korea."
The U.S. team will get together for a 10-day training camp in Cary, North Carolina, beginning on May 1.
The squad will then play friendlies against World Cup-bound Uruguay (May 12, Washington), Jamaica (May 16, East Rutherford, New Jersey) and the Netherlands (May 19, Foxboro, Massachusetts) before departing for South Korea on May 24.
Arena said there was no reason to look back at the poor performance in the 1998 finals when the U.S. lost each of their three first-round matches.
"We're going to make believe it never happened," he said. "I think the guys have proven in the last three-and-a-half years that they are a better team.
"Right now, we're looking to gain some cohesion and sort out our first 11. We want to play well and move forward as a team and I think the training camp and the three friendlies we have will give us the confidence we need on June 5 when we open against Portugal."
Goalkeeping is the strongest area of the U.S. squad and Arena must decide whether Tottenham Hotspur's Keller or Friedel of Blackburn Rovers will be first choice. Meola, the number one in 1990 and 1994, is third choice.
Arena said that three players, John O'Brien, David Regis and Reyna, would arrive late at training camp because of club commitments.
O'Brien will play for Ajax Amsterdam in the Dutch Cup final while Reyna, the U.S. captain, is involved in an English premier league relegation battle with Sunderland.
Regis is trying to help Metz avoid the drop in the French first division.
Goalkeepers: Brad Friedel (Blackburn Rovers), Kasey Keller (Tottenham Hotspur), Tony Meola (Kansas City Wizards)
Defenders: Jeff Agoos (San Jose Earthquakes), Gregg Berhalter (Crystal Palace), Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen), Carlos Llamosa (New England Revolution), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Eddie Pope (D.C. United), David Regis (Metz), Tony Sanneh (FC Nurnburg)
Midfielders: Chris Armas (Chicago Fire), DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire), Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes), Cobi Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Lewis (Fulham), John O'Brien (Ajax Amsterdam), Claudio Reyna (Sunderland), Earnie Stewart (NAC Breda)
Strikers: Clint Mathis (New York/New Jersey MetroStars), Brian McBride (Columbus Crew), Joe-Max Moore (Everton), Josh Wolff (Chicago Fire).