The selection for the United States men's national team's upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama has been released, as Tim Howard of Colorado Rapids and Clint Dempsey of Seattle Sounders return to the squad.
The Stars and Stripes will face Honduras on March 24 in San Jose, California, before travelling to Panama for their fourth match of the Hexagonal.
The USA sit last in the standings after starting the fifth qualifying round of CONCACAF with back-to-back defeats against Mexico and Costa Rica, two of the favourites to advance from the region.
A quick turnaround is needed, starting with the match against Honduras, who lost to Panama on the first matchday but beat Trinidad & Tobago in Round 2. With so much at stake, it's not a surprise to see manager Bruce Arena opt for veterans like Howard and Dempsey.
As shared by ESPN FC's Paul Carr, the latter's ability to score goals could be crucial:
DeAndre Yedlin's absence means Fabian Johnson is likely to play at right-back, even if he's listed among the midfielders. Michael Orozco and Geoff Cameron are also options, but Johnson is the more natural fit.
It's hard to ignore the presence of veteran defender DaMarcus Beasley, who announced his retirement from the national team in 2014 but keeps getting called up, per ESPN Insider's Mike L. Goodman:
Despite only recently returning from injury, Howard is likely to start in goal for the Stars and Stripes. Brad Guzan doesn't see the pitch for Middlesbrough all that often, and Nick Rimando is little more than a backup option.
It's perhaps disappointing not to see Bill Hamid or Ethan Horvath in the squad, but given what's at stake, it's hard to fault Arena for going with experience over upside.