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Tchani flips script on USMNT, Finlay back in the fold for Stars & Stripes

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The Crew SC pair received international call-ups for next week's FIFA window, with the center midfielder potentially moving out of the U.S. picture.

Ethan Finlay (front, center) and Tony Tchani (back, center) have each received international call-ups.
Ethan Finlay (front, center) and Tony Tchani (back, center) have each received international call-ups.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Two more Columbus Crew SC players will be playing international games next week, after Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani accepted call-ups this weekend.

For Tchani, the moment potentially marks the future direction of his career as an international, after officially accepting an offer to join the Cameroon national team for a pair of qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations. It was reported on March 10 that the 26-year-old center midfielder had received a call-up, but Tchani had deferred his decision.

Now he's made it.

Tchani was with the United States national team for its January camp, his first call-up by Jurgen Klinsmann. The U.S. played a pair of games — against Iceland and Canada — with Tchani coming on in the 70th minute against Iceland. He did not appear against Canada.

That appearance did not cap-tie Tchani to the United States because it was a friendly, not an official match.

Tchani had been called in by Cameroon for World Cup qualifying matches in November, but an injury kept him from participating.

Now it looks like he's likely to officially pledge his allegiance to his African nation of birth — should he appear in either of Cameroon's match's next week, he will be cap-tied. Tchani moved to the United States when he was 15.

Cameroon will take on South African on March 26 and 29.

There was no such drama for Finlay, even if his call-up was not a sure thing.

Finlay — also a dual national with Canada — made his first U.S. appearance during that same January camp, starting against Iceland and coming on as a late substitute against Canada. He had little impact in the first game, but had the game winning assist against the Canadians.

Finlay, too, is not officially cap-tied, though Canada has not expressed any official interest in the winger. Should he play in either qualifying game against Guatemala next week, he will be locked in with the U.S.

He'll have an opportunity to pull on the red, white and blue in front of his home fans at MAPFRE Stadium when the U.S. hosts Guatemala in the second of two qualifiers being played on March 25 and 29.

With only a handful of wide midfielders on the roster, Finlay should have an opportunity to get on the field. The majority of the wide players are left-sided, though Klinsmann has shown no problem moving Alejandro Bedoya and Fabian Johnson around the field. He's also shown a tendency to put Darlington Nagbe and Lee Nguyen out wide, though both have been on the left. DeAndre Yedlin is listed as a defender, but has also played right mid for the U.S. during the past year.

Here is the full USMNT roster for the pair of qualifiers:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (4)
: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa; 9/0), Tim Howard (Everton FC; 30/0), William Yarbrough (Club Leon; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Ventura Alvarado (Club America; 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 8/0), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United; 0/0), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin; 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City; 15/1), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey; 4/0), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca; 8/0), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana; 4/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland; 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake; 6/0), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes FC; 3/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 26/5), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC; 3/0), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC; 0/0), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach; 11/1), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers FC; 2/0), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution; 0/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC; 28/12), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 34/13), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin; 2/1), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 2/1)