MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Friday, August 26 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Match Odds: RSL 5/6 – Draw 11/5 – Colorado 10/3

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake host the Colorado Rapids in the latest Rocky Mountain Cup battle on Friday night, with both sides chasing Western Conference leaders FC Dallas as the regular season edges closer to completion.

RSL have been very inconsistent for a number of months, but they are unbeaten at home this term and that is keeping them at the right end of the standings as things stand.

Real Salt Lake have won just three of their last 11 MLS outings but are just five points off Supporters’ Shield leaders Dallas with eight games to play.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake - Joao Plata Celebrates

A win over their rivals on Friday would see them move ahead of the Rapids and into second place in the West, so this is a massive clash for both sides.

Colorado have surprised everyone with their performances this season. They have looked solid throughout, conceding the fewest goals of every side and losing just three times all campaign.

They should make the playoffs without too much difficulty, but need to ensure they start winning games more regularly if they are to be a force through the postseason.

Kevin Doyle, MLS: New York City FC vs. Colorado Rapids

A run of just one win in their last five has left the Rapids still chasing top spot Dallas, although they do have two games in hand and only need to make up two points on the leaders. A victory here would be a major boost with the playoffs fast approaching.

This will be the 37th MLS regular season meeting between these Western Conference rivals. Real Salt Lake hold a narrow advantage based on previous meetings, winning 14 and losing 12 against the Rapids, with 10 matches ending in a draw.

Team News

Jeff Cassar has four injury worries ahead of Friday’s game. Emery Welshman, Sunday Stephen and Aaron Maund are all out, while Jordan Allen is a doubt and is unlikely to feature. Right-back Tony Beltran is suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation and won’t be available.

Colorado’s Dillon Serna remains out for the season, while Sebastien Le Toux, Sean St. Ledger and Jermaine Jones are all doubtful and are therefore unlikely to return to the team on Friday.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five: W/L/W/L/W

Colorado Rapids’ last five: D/L/W/D/D

Key Stat: Colorado have not won away at Real Salt Lake since 2007, losing nine of the 13 games at Rio Tinto since.

Key Player: Nick Rimando – The RSL goalkeeper keeps coming up big for his side and kept a clean sheet in last weekend’s crucial battle against FC Dallas. Another clean sheet here would put RSL in a really strong position and he will be looking to shutout the Rapids for the second time this season on Friday.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-1 Colorado Rapids – This is set to be a close-fought battle between two sides that will be desperate to avoid defeat in such an important contest. RSL should keep their unbeaten home record intact but the Rapids are a tough outfit to break down. Score draw.

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2016 MLS Season Preview: Real Salt Lake

As the 2016 MLS season edges ever closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what the Real Salt Lake could achieve this season.

Real Salt Lake head into the new season with plenty of room for improvement after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Western Conference last campaign. Head coach Jeff Cassar has added some new faces to his side in an attempt to freshen things up but this is going to be a tough season ahead and they are going to have to work extremely hard to improve. The fans will not want another season of struggles, so with sides around them becoming stronger, they must remain competitive in what is a fiercely competitive conference. The aim will be to make the playoffs, after missing out for the first time in eight years in 2015.

Last Season’s Finish:

Western Conference – Position: 9th – P34 – W11 – D8 – L15

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What Needs To Change This Year?

Real Salt Lake must tighten up at the back. They conceded 48 goals last season, while netting just 38. They need to ensure they pick up points from sides around them in the Western Conference as clashes with fellow promotion chasers are fiercely competitive. Cassar’s side need to score more goals as their tally of 38 was the second-lowest across both conferences. Signings have been brought in to try and add to the goal tally, while the return of Joao Plata will hep. They lost 15 games last term – the most in one campaign since 2007 – and ensuring they don’t repeat that mistake will put them in a better position.

Key Changes:

InsChris Wingert – Defender, Danilo Acosta – Midfielder, Omar Holness – Midfielder, Sunny Obayen – Midfielder, Emery Welshman – Forward & Yura Movsisyan – Forward

Outs: Elias Vasquez – Defender, Chris Schular – Defender, Abdoulie Mansally – Defender, Pecka – Midfielder, Luis Silva – Midfielder, Sebastian Saucedo – Midfielder & Sebastian Jaime – Forward

Key Player: 

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Nick Rimando – Goalkeeper – As mentioned, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper saw his side’s goal breached 48 times last season, so he can expect yet another busy campaign between the sticks. He is a top performer for his side, despite the fact that RSL struggled in the 2015 season. The veteran will turn 37 in the 2016 campaign but as we know, age is less relevant with goalkeepers and his experience could be key as RSL look to pick up more points and cause a few upsets.

One to Watch:

Yura Movsisyan – Forward – The Armenian forward returns to Real Salt Lake for a second spell – his previous stint coming between 2007-2009 where he helped RSL to lift the 2009 MLS Cup, scoring once in the playoffs. The 28-year-old striker joins RSL on loan from Russian side Spartak Moscow and is a player that the Claret and Cobalt fans will be looking forward to watching again. His MLS record stands at 20 goals in 81 outings for Real Salt Lake and Kansas City, so he has already shown he is capable in front of goal. The league has changed since he was last involved and he will need to adapt quickly. There is pressure on him to help RSL improve on last season and if he gets off to a good start he could have quite an impact.

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Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 9th – It may be a downer for Real Salt Lake fans but their current squad doesn’t seem to be one which can improve on last season. They have lost more players than they have signed and squad depth is important – so they could struggle from the off. RSL lost four of their last five of the 2015 campaign and face a tough start to 2016, with three of their first five games away from home. They must ensure they pick up points wherever possible early on to avoid confidence being shattered. There are reasons for optimism, with Joao Plata’s return from injury and the signing of Movsisyan likely to help the team improve but it is difficult at this point to see them climbing the conference.

What are you expecting from Real Salt Lake in 2016?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Real Salt Lake

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake

Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday, May 9th – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire: 6/5 Draw: 9/4 Real Salt Lake: 23/10

Match Preview

Chicago Fire go into battle with Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park on Saturday afternoon, looking to get back to winning ways after last week’s defeat at Sporting Kansas City, in what was their first loss since March 22nd.

Real Salt Lake themselves are on a four-game winless run after a 0-0 draw at home against LA Galaxy on Wednesday night in the first of two games they have played this week.

Chicago Fire were on a three-game winning run until that was halted last week away in Missouri. Their three wins all came at Toyota Park, giving them huge confidence ahead of this tight encounter. After this one Chicago face two away games as they head to The Yankee Stadium to face New York City FC and then the MAPFRE stadium to face Columbus Crew in two important Eastern Conference ties.

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Prior to that Chicago Fire failed to register a win in their opening three with defeats to LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps and a loss to San Jose Earthquakes left them reeling, but what a turnaround it has been for The Fire, giving head coach Frank Yallop eight wins now since he has taken over.

The Fire currently sit in the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and would aspire to be there come the end of the season, after last season’s disappointing 9th place finish.

Real Salt Lake are playing their second game this week following a draw at home to MLS Cup holders LA Galaxy. A real contrast to last season with no win in four now means they are in a lowly seventh place in the Western Conference, with their last win coming at San Jose back on April 5th.

Just one win away this season, coupled with plenty of draws leaves the Claret and Cobalt looking out of shape and outside the playoff places.

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Since that win in San Jose, Real Salt Lake have scored just the once. And although they will look at the draw with the Galaxy as a good point, failing to secure three points in this one could further hinder their chances of finishing in a respectable position come the end of October.

In the last five meetings between the two, there has been one Fire win, one RSL win and three draws.

Last season’s lone meeting between the two saw Real Salt Lake grab a 3-2 victory at Toyota Park.

Team News

Chicago Fire will be without Mike Magee as he still recovers from hip surgery and Patrick Nyarko who is also likely to miss the rest of the season after a torn ACL. Doubts have been raised over Michael Stephens too who could also miss out with an ankle injury. David Accam is suspended after picking up a red card at Sporting Kansas City last weekend.

Real Salt Lake still miss Joao Plata and Chris Schuler, who continue to recover from long-term injuries, while Javier Morales is out with concussion. Like Chicago Fire injury doubts lay within Sebastian Jaime (right tibia) and Boyd Okwuonu (shoulder injury).

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: L/W/W/W/L

Real Salt Lake’s last five: D/L/L/L/D

Key Stat: Chicago Fire have only scored six goals this season but have won three games, compared to Real Salt Lake’s two wins from seven goals scored.

Key Player: Nick Rimando – For the second time in a week this man could be the key player. His  stoppage time penalty save against the Galaxy earned his team a point and his presence in goal and voice on the pitch is so vital in a crunch fixture like this.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 0-1 Real Salt Lake – The Royals are long overdue a win and could really do with all three points. They have to win and have last season’s victory to look at to act as a stepping stone for further success. Chicago will have been disappointed by last weekend’s defeat and may struggle to bounce back immediately.

Robbie Findley excited about return to Real Salt Lake with Toronto FC

Toronto FC travel to Real Salt Lake on Sunday night in a game that will see Robbie Findley return to the club he left last December and the former US international striker is excited for the match.

Findley spent six seasons with Real Salt Lake in total. He joined the club in 2007 and spent three-and-a-half seasons there before making the move to England where he played for Nottingham Forest and Gillingham.

The 29 year old then returned to RSL in 2013 but only scored seven goals in 41 appearances over the past two seasons.

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He has started life with Toronto well though, scoring in his first game in that 3-1 win at the Vancouver Whitecaps on opening weekend, and is now looking ahead to playing at Rio Tinto Stadium with his new teammates.

“I can’t wait,” Findley told Toronto’s official YouTube channel. “They’re definitely a good team with a lot of good guys that I still talk to and it will be fun. They have a good crowd and I’m looking forward to it.

“The fans have always been great since day one so hopefully I’ll get a good ovation.”

Both sides will have to deal with absentees on Sunday night as each side will be without five players who are away on international duty.

Toronto will need to try and win without Designated Players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, who are both with the US Men’s National Team, while RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando is also with Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad.

Altidore’s absence should see Findley get the chance to impress as the lead striker and he believes whoever comes in needs to work for the team.

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“I think everybody has got to take the responsibility on themselves. We win as a team and we lose as a team so whoever gets that opportunity to step onto the field needs to deliver and know their role,” he added.

The experienced striker went on to add that he has enjoyed his time with Toronto so far and the whole squad are focused on getting something out of Sunday’s game.

“It’s been great. It’s very professional. All the guys have been great and have welcomed me.

“They’ve got a couple players missing as well so we’ve just got to go there and focus on what we need to do to get a result.”

Will Robbie Findley score against his former side when Toronto take on Real Salt Lake this weekend?

International Preview and Prediction: Denmark vs USA

Competition: International Friendly – Denmark vs. United States

Venue: NRGi Park, Denmark – Wednesday, March 25 – 15:00 ET (19:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Denmark 23/20 – Draw 11/5 – USA 5/2

Match Preview

Denmark host the USA on Wednesday night in an intriguing international friendly as Jurgen Klinsmann and his experimental US Men’s National Team squad face a skillful Danish side at NRGi Park.

Klinsmann has only called up six MLS-based players into his 23-man squad for the upcoming friendlies against Denmark and Switzerland as the new Major League Soccer season is underway. That means a lot of less experienced faces are involved and will hope to impress.

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Regardless of who plays, the main aim will be to take positives out of the game and that means a good performance is needed against a Denmark side that boasts quality players such as Christian Eriksen and Daniel Agger.

The Danes have only won one of their last four though and have yet to play a game in 2015 so the USA will look to capitalise on any rustiness from Morten Olsen’s men.

Klinsmann has seen his USMNT side in action twice already this year as they lost to Chile 3-2 back in January before beating Panama 2-0 at the beginning of February to record their first win in six.

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The USA squad’s last trip to Europe didn’t go too well as they lost to Colombia in London before being thrashed by the Republic of Ireland in Dublin and Klinsmann will be desperate for better performances against the Danes and Switzerland.

This will be the fifth meeting between Denmark and the USA and the USMNT will hope to record a first-ever victory against the Danes, having lost two and drawn two of the previous four encounters.

The last meeting saw Denmark run out 3-1 winners at NRGi Park in November 2009 and there are now just four places between the two nations in the FIFA World Rankings so this should be close.

Team News

Denmark coach Morten Olsen has named a strong squad for the game and Christian Eriksen will be hoping to earn his 50th cap with a start in this one, becoming the youngest-ever player to do so for the Danish National Team if he does. Former Liverpool defender Daniel Agger will expect to start at centre-back and could be partnered by Aston Villa’s Jores Okore. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will hope to start in goal while former Arsenal man Nicklas Bendtner could start in attack.

Denmark vs USA Predicted Lineups

Denmark vs USA Predicted Lineups (via LineupBuilder.com)

The USMNT have plenty of unfamiliar faces in the squad but the experienced heads in the team will likely start this one. Nick Rimando will start in goal, while Michael Bradley is almost guaranteed to start in midfield. Brek Shea will fill in at left-back once again, while DeAndre Yedlin could be used on the right wing if Fabian Johnson gets the nod at right-back. Gyasi Zardes impressed against Panama and could start again, though Dempsey and Altidore look most likely to start in attack.

Key Points

Denmark’s last five: W/D/L/W/L

USA’s last five: D/L/L/L/W

Key Stat: There have been 15 goals in the four previous meetings between the two countries. Add that to the fact that neither team has seen a 0-0 for a combined total of 43 games and it’s clear that we should be treated to goals on Wednesday evening.

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Key Player: Christian Eriksen – The Danish playmaker will be the most talented man on the pitch if he starts the game. It will be his 50th cap and he’ll want to mark the occasion with a fine performance and a goal.

Score Prediction

Denmark 2-2 USA – This should provide bundles of entertainment as both sides will look to attack from the outset. However, it is tough to separate them on paper and that could lead to a score draw in Denmark on Wednesday. It is important that the USA take positives from the game and avoiding defeat will be the main aim.

Real Salt Lake receive double boost ahead of Desert Diamond Cup

By Keave Tollington

With the MLS preseason heading into its final stretch, the next few weeks will be crucial for every single player as they fight to impress in games where risks can afford to be taken.

Real Salt Lake headed down to Tucson today, boosted by the return of Luis Gil and Nick Rimando. Both joined up with the rest of the squad after spending the past month in Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp coming off two matches with the USMNT. Rimando played in both matches against Chile and Panama while Gil saw his second cap in a short appearance against Panama last Sunday.

The return of 2014 shutout star, Rimando, is expected to provide the boost that RSL need to continue their successful preseason campaign so far.

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This Wednesday (February 18th) sees the start of the annual Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona, involving FC Tucson and 5 MLS teams. Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution, Seattle Sounders, and Colorado Rapids all take part this year.

The tournament will last 10 Days with each team playing 4 games in total. The competition aims to boost excitement for the new season, which commences just 7 days after its completion.

So far this preseason, Real Salt Lake have managed to beat UC Irvine and OC Blues in California. In those games head coach Jeff Cassar had the opportunity to see how the new signings gelled with a long list of returning players.

With the Desert Diamond Cup he can do the same but against MLS clubs, giving the fans a more clear vision into just how prepared RSL are for the 2015 MLS campaign.

FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

These games are a bit more than just preseason friendlies for Cassar. It is not only an opportunity to win a trophy (however insignificant the title really is) but it’s also a pivotal time for him to see where play needs tweaking and he can allow the players to grasp new ideas before the start of the season.

Camp has been extremely positive for everyone at RSL so far and they meet 2014 MLS Cup runners-up, New England Revolution on Wednesday for a fixture that is likely to have more structure in terms of players than the two previous friendlies.

The Revs beat RSL 2-1 in a scrimmage game two weeks ago in both side’s first games of preseason but the meeting in the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday will be a lot more intense.

Real Salt Lake will now be moving into practicing more defined sets of plays, formations and starting lineups as the MLS season rapidly approaches.

Real Salt Lake’s upcoming friendlies:

Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution – Wednesday, February 18th

Real Salt Lake vs. FC Tucson – Saturday, February 21st

Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas – Wednesday, February 25th

Real Salt Lake vs. TBD – Saturday, February 28th

How will Real Salt Lake fare in 2015?

Brad Davis now the longest-serving player with one club in MLS

Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis is now the longest-serving player to be with one Major League Soccer club as he enters his 10th season with the Dynamo.

Chicago Fire defender Gonzalo Segares announced his retirement on Monday, putting an end to a 10-year career, and so Davis is now the longest-serving player in the league to have been with one club.

Houston teammate Corey Ashe is not far behind Davis as the left-back has been with the Dynamo for eight years, while Real Salt Lake trio Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales have all been together in RSL for eight years too.

Longest-serving players with one club in MLS

List of active MLS players with longest tenures with one club (via Houston Dynamo) 

Davis is currently tied for fourth with Preki (112) for all-time MLS assists and is only two behind Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama (114).

The USMNT playmaker, who was a part of the 2014 World Cup squad, will expect to climb to at least third on the all-time assist list this season but he is still 24 behind Landon Donovan, who leads Major League Soccer for assists with 136.

Davis will play alongside Mexican striker Erick Torres when he joins up with the squad later this year and he will expect to pick up plenty of assists while playing with the former Chivas USA star.

The Houston Dynamo open up their 2015 season against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, March 7th and the club will hope to start life under new coach Owen Coyle with victory.

How important is Brad Davis for the Houston Dynamo?

Breaking down the USMNT 25-man squad for upcoming friendlies

Jurgen Klinsmann named his 25-man squad for the upcoming USMNT friendlies against Colombia and Republic of Ireland today and there were a mixture of familiar faces as well as new ones in the roster.

The two friendlies may not be competitive games, but Klinsmann will want to end an excellent 2014 on a high and the first game against a no.3 ranked Colombia side on Friday will be a real test that many players will relish playing in.

“We want to finish 2014 on a high note and continue to try to meet the top teams eye to eye,” said Klinsmann.

“In these last two games we want our veterans to really become mentors both on and off the field, and we want to see our youngsters take advantage of the opportunity to make their case and grow from the experience. These performances will set the tone for 2015.”

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

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No real surprises here. Tim Howard is taking a year off international duty so Brad Guzan will expect to continue as first-choice. Though the fact that these are friendly games should see rotation between the sticks. Sean Johnson will be delighted with his call-up but he is unlikely to feature. Bill Hamid is certainly looking like the future no.1 ‘keeper and he deserves more and more responsibility from now on.

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

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Mostly usual names in here but some surprise inclusions nonetheless. Firstly, Matt Besler looked extremely tired at the end of Sporting Kansas City’s season and needs a long rest during the offseason. A long trip to Europe is not what he needs.

John Brooks is also a surprise inclusion as he has fallen down the pecking order at Hertha Berlin while Geoff Cameron and Jermaine Jones have been called up in defence to presumably play centre-back but neither are naturals in the position. Jones is a far better midfielder and the experiment at centre-back against Honduras didn’t exactly flourish. Facing a pacey Colombian attack will be a major test.

DeAndre Yedlin is one of three players called up who are still likely to be involved in the MLS Playoffs and so his game time may be limited. And any action he does see could be in midfield once again.

It’s a shame not to see Bolton Wanderer’s Tim Ream called up as he has been in good form this season.

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

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Michael Bradley misses out as he recovers from a foot injury so some new faces are involved. Lee Nguyen has been rewarded for an incredible year though New England’s participation in the playoffs could limit his game time. Alfredo Morales in involved once again but it would have been nice to see a couple of MLS players called up considering the games are non-competitive.

The likes of Luis Gil, Will Trapp and Perry Kitchen could have all been given the nod by Klinsmann but he has overlooked all three on this occasion.

Kyle Beckerman will hope to forget about Real Salt Lake’s humiliating MLS playoff loss to LA Galaxy by ending what has been a great year for him on a high, while Julian Green could impress again.

Graham Zusi has been overlooked but he looked just as tired as teammate Besler and will likely be pleased that he can recover.

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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The major surprises in the roster are in the attack. Clint Dempsey misses out playing at his former ground Craven Cottage as some new faces are set to see some action. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, Miguel Ibarra and Rubio Rubin have all made the squad and will be desperate to impress.

Miguel Ibarra plays in NASL and Bobby Wood is struggling to make any kind of impact for an 1860 Munich side that is near the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga.

While Jordan Morris has yet to leave College and is still a student at Stanford. All three will hope to see some minutes but Rubio Rubin is the most exciting to watch.

The 18-year-old has been called up for the second successive time and will expect to win his first cap this time around. He has four assists in nine games for Utrecht in the Eredivisie and is a versatile attacker with a bright future ahead of him.

Jozy Altidore continues to earn call-ups despite failing to get in the Sunderland team while Aaron Johansson and Terrance Boyd are not deemed fit enough having recently recovered from injuries.

Eddie Johnson has been overlooked once again and his USMNT career looks to be over as long as Klinsmann is in charge.

What do you make of the latest USMNT squad?