Perhaps signaling the end of his time as a U.S. men’s national team player, Chris Wondolowski was among five players cut from the squad ahead of international friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica.
The San Jose Earthquakes all-time leading scorer was one of 31 players, one of 5 forwards, selected to participate in the USMNT’s annual January camp, but U.S. Soccer announced on Friday that head coach Bruce Arena elected to keep only 3 strikers on his 23-man roster, favoring Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, and Jordan Morris over Wondolowski.
For many, the inclusion of Wondo, who turns 34 years old today, was a bit of a head-scratcher, especially given the USA’s need to hunker down ahead of 2016 World Cup Qualifiers later this winter. The Yanks failed to register a single point in their opening two games of The Hex, resulting in the firing of then head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, and paving the way for Arena’s return. The former LA Galaxy manager will need to turn the program around quickly if he is to lead the USMNT to the Finals in Russia.
“I have been extremely pleased with the effort and progress we have seen throughout the January Camp,” Arena said in a statement. “The entire pool of players has performed well and has made our roster decisions very difficult. We are excited to take the next step and look forward to the game against Serbia in San Diego.”
Wondolowski has earned 35 caps with the national team and scored 11 goals. He was a member of the World Cup squad in 2014 as the U.S. advanced to the Round of 16 in Brazil before losing infamously to Belgium. The Quakes star striker has made 12 appearances for the USMNT since then, scoring a goal in his last appearance, a 2-0 victory against Cuba last October 7.
His release from international duty paves the way for him to return to San Jose and join his club teammates ahead of their preseason trip to Arizona. The Earthquakes have slowly been adding to their roster this month, with Costa Rica forward Marcos Urena the latest signing, and Wondolowski will now have more opportunity to build chemistry with the newcomers.
San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham, a two-year starter with the Earthquakes, remains on the 23-man roster that will face Serbia tomorrow at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Five days later, the USMNT travels to Tennessee to host CONCACAF rivals Jamaica to close out its winter camp.
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).
MIDFIELDERS: Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union).
FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders).