Colorado Rapids Soccer Club announced today that Shkëlzen Gashi (Albania), Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones (United States), Marco Pappa (Guatemala) and Mekeil Williams (Trinidad & Tobago) have earned international call-ups from their respective federations ahead of the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Gashi has scored three goals in 14 matches for Albania, including the game-winner against Armenia during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers on March 29, 2015. Gashi made the final 23-man roster and played in the first group match of the UEFA Euro 2016 – Albania's first ever appearance at a major football tournament.
In his debut MLS season, Gashi leads the team in goals (5), shots (74) and shots on goal (32). Three of Gashi’s five tallies have come in the Rapids’ last three road games, and his left-footed strike at LA Galaxy earlier this month was voted MLS Goal of the Week.
Howard has represented the United States in every year since 2002 and, during that time, has amassed 109 caps. He has also been a member of the USMNT at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. Howard’s accolades include 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup champion, 2009 Confederations Cup runner-up and Golden Glove, as well as CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Since joining the Rapids following a 13-year stint in the Premier League, Howard has recorded four clean sheets and 32 saves. He has a 2-2-5 record as a starter and has been nominated for MLS Save of the Week four times.
Jones has played in 65 official games for the USMNT, including four appearances at this summer’s Copa America Centenario, in which he played an integral role in helping the U.S. reach the semifinals. The 34-year-old featured in all of his country’s games at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil before they were eliminated by Belgium in the Round of 16.
The 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star has appeared in eight games for the Rapids after joining via an offseason trade with the New England Revolution. Jones scored a goal and added an assist in his Rapids debut, a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls on April 16. Jones scored or assisted in his first four games but has been sidelined with a knee injury since July 4.
Since his senior debut back in 2008, Pappa has appeared in 51 games with 11 goals and three assists for Guatemala. At the 2014 Copa Centroamericana, Pappa earned the Golden Boot with four goals and the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament. The Rapids midfielder also participated in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup seeing action in all three group stage matches.
Pappa arrived in Colorado last December after spending the last two seasons with Seattle Sounders FC. The Guatemalan playmaker has scored two goals and notched four assists in 17 regular season matches (nine starts).
Williams has 11 caps for Trinidad and Tobago and scored his only international goal in his senior debut in a 3-2 loss against Finland on January 22, 2012. He appeared in three matches for the Soca Warriors in last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, including the quarterfinal loss against Panama.
The 26-year-old defender has logged 1,371 regular season minutes in 17 games (16 starts) and has seen action at both outside back positions. Williams has been named to the MLS Team of the Week twice this season.