The U.S. men’s national soccer team will face Panama in an exhibition game Sunday at StubHub Center, fielding a team combining members of the 2014 FIFA World Cup team and players coach Jurgen Klinsmann hopes will be part of the 2016 Olympic and 2018 World Cup teams.
The 22-player U.S. roster includes nine players who played in the 2014 World Cup — forwards Jose Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski; defenders Matt Besler, Jermaine Jones and DeAndre Yedlin; midfielders Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud; and goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
It also includes five players who have not played for the national team, defenders Matt Hedges, Perry Kitchen and Shane O’Neill, goalkeeper Jon Kempin; and midfielder Dillon Serna.
There are four who played on the high school or club level in Los Angeles or Orange counties — defender Steve Birnbaum (Irvine Strikers); midfielder Luis Gil (Pateadores); and forwards Miguel Ibarra (Lancaster High School) and Gyasi Zardes (Leuzinger High School).
The U.S. is mired in a five-game winless streak, its longest since a similar streak in 2007 and is 1-4-3 since defeating Ghana, 2-1, June 16 to open World Cup play.
This is the first time the team has played in Los Angeles County since defeating South Korea, 2-0, on Feb. 1, 2014, at StubHub Center.
Sunday’s game concludes a training period that began Jan. 12 at StubHub Center and included a 3-2 loss to Chile Jan. 28 at Rancagua, Chile, when Birnbaum, Zardes and midfielder Wil Trapp made their national team debuts.
The U.S. is 27th in the rankings issued by FIFA, soccer’s worldwide governing body. Panama is 55th. Its roster includes three Major League Soccer players — Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and forwards Blas Perez (FC Dallas) and Gabriel Torres (Colorado Rapids).
The U.S. is 11-1-2 against Panama, winning each of the last five games. The lone U.S. loss came on June 11, 2011, in a CONCACAF Gold Cup game in Tampa, Fla.
— City News Service