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Brad Guzan and Josef Martinez called into national team duty

The final round of qualifiers is upon us

Soccer:  2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Semifinal Round-Guatemala at USA Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, Brad Guzan has been called into the U.S. Men’s National Team for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers. The matches, in Orlando against Panama on October 6th and at Trinidad & Tobago on October 10th, will determine if the U.S. makes the tournament as an automatic qualifier, has to face a qualification playoff against Australia or Syria, or misses out on the World Cup completely.

Bruce Arena has been going with a rotating goalkeeper system as of late whereby he has been starting Tim Howard at home and puts Guzan in the first 11 on the road. So far, Guzan has held up his end of the bargain holding Honduras and Mexico to draws in the away matches. Howard, on the other hand, struggled with distribution and accuracy on goal kicks in his recent appearances.

Indeed, with Guzan keeping six clean sheets in his last seven league games, and actually being able to clear his lines, Arena may have a difficult time not starting the Atlanta United netminder in both matches. Additionally, Guzan has shown that he can keep a team from scoring on him in Orlando as he held OCSC scoreless in his one game there this season.

Josef represents Venezuela yet again

Guzan won’t be the only Atlanta United player wearing his national team’s kit coming up. Josef Martinez has also been called into represent Venezuela. The Atlanta United forward has spoken before about how important it is for him to play for his national side. Although Venezuela has been eliminated from qualifying for the World Cup, he will bring the same passion and energy that he shows for the Five Stripes as he represents his country. La Vinotinto will play Uruguay at home on October 5th before playing in Paraguay on October 10th.

Big decisions for Tata

The callups will force Tata Martino to make changes to his starting 11. On Tuesday, Atlanta faces Minnesota United during the international break. Since the match takes place when there is an official FIFA date, the team must release the players for their national team games. Guzan will presumably join the USMNT on Monday as they open camp to prepare for the qualifiers and Josef Martinez also seems like he will be unavailable on Tuesday.

Two weeks ago Alec Kann was subbed out as the first half ended in his rehab start for the Charleston Battery. Backup Kyle Reynish has one start with the team in a 4-2 win against the San Jose Earthquakes and should be expected to start with Guzan called up. Martino has typically played Tito Villalba at striker when Martinez is unavailable, but Kenwyne Jones has started in his place as well and did sub in for Josef in the team’s recent match against New England.