The 2016 season has included some bumps in the road for Sporting Kansas City designated players Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.
But their status with the United States men’s national team remains unchanged.
Besler and Zusi have been called up to the national team for two upcoming World Cup qualifiers, coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced Sunday. They are part of a 26-man roster for the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which will be played in Russia. The Americans travel to face St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday before returning to home soil to play Trinidad and Tobago on Sept. 6 in Jacksonville.
The U.S. is in second place in Group C with two matches remaining. The top two teams from the group will advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying.
Besler and Zusi have been fixtures of the U.S. national team for the past three-plus years, though they haven’t enjoyed their best seasons with Sporting Kansas City. Besler, 29, has been benched this year by coach Peter Vermes, and he suffered an MCL strain in his left knee in July. He returned to the starting lineup for the past two matches. Since his national team debut in 2013, Besler has made 35 appearances for his home country.
Zusi has also been disappointed with his production this season with Sporting KC. He has scored only once in 16 starts, and he missed time last month while dealing with a hamstring injury. In 40 career appearances with the national team, Zusi has scored five times and added six assists. He contributed one goal in five matches at Copa America earlier this year.
Sporting Kansas City next plays Sept. 9 against the Houston Dynamo at Children’s Mercy Park.
United States men’s national team roster
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
Defenders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
Midfielders: Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski