USMNT: Big guns arrive for Gold Cup quarterfinals

As expected, Bruce Arena made six changes to the U.S. national team's 23-player roster for the Gold Cup quarterfinals. Additions include first-team regulars Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. Among those returning to their MLS clubs are four players who started two games in the just-completed group stage.

Goalkeepers Brad Guzan, midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Kelyn Rowe and forward Dom Dwyer, who each started two games, departed along with Cristian Roldan, who started against Martinique, and Sean Johnson, the lone player on the 23-player roster for the group stage who didn't start.

"The six players that left did a very good job for us," said Arena. "Three of the changes we knew in advance of the tournament. We needed to make three others."

Gold Cup, Quarterfinals:
July 19 in Philadelphia, Pa.
QF1: Costa Rica vs. Panama, FS1, UniMas, 6 pm
QF2: USA vs. El Salvador, FS1, Univision, 9 pm ET.
July 20 in Glendale, Ariz.
QF3: Jamaica vs. Canada, FS1, UniMas, 7:30 pm
QF4: Mexico vs. Honduras, FS1, Univision, 10:30 pm ET.

Guzan and Johnson, both goalkeepers were scheduled to return to their MLS clubs -- in Guzan's case, to his new MLS club, Atlanta United -- in place of Howard and Jesse Gonzalez, whose switch of association wasn't approved by FIFA until after Concacaf's roster deadline for the group stage. Bedoya's wife, Norwegian Beatrice Hilland, is about to give birth to their second child.

The debate was then over who would be the other three players to cut. Dwyer and Rowe were something of surprises to depart. They teamed up for the lone goal scored by Dwyer against Panama (1-1 tie) while Rowe scored the second goal in Saturday's 3-0 win over Nicaragua.

Altidore and Nagbe will replace Dwyer and Rowe in like-for-like moves in the starting lineup. The thinking appears to have been that Juan Agudelo and Jordan Morris, who remain with the team, are more versatile options off the bench up front than Dwyer, who is an out-and-out striker and wouldn't have start with Altidore available. With Bedoya, another wide midfielder, also gone, Rowe's departure is more puzzling.

"All of [the decisions] are difficult," said Arena. "All of the players did well. I thought Dom, Cristian and Kelyn did very well for us, and I told them that. They're players that we're obviously going to continue to keep an eye on, and continue to obviously have them in the program."

The USA struggled to put away its three opponents in Group B before winning the group on goal difference over Panama. Arena suggested that the less experienced players who will remain with the team will do better as complements to the nucleus of vets he has recalled.

"It's a difficult tournament," he said. "and when you play so many less experienced and younger players together, it's difficult. It's not easy. Probably the perfect way to do that is to mix in more veteran players. But we wanted to give everyone an opportunity, and that's the way we decided to do it, and I think they came through with passing grades, all of them."

U.S. Roster (Club; Caps/Goals):
Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0)
Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 3/0)
Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 115/0)

Matt Besler (Sporting KC; 42/1)
Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 42/2)
Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 4/0)
Eric Lichaj (Nott. Forest/ENG; 12/0)
Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 3/1)
Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 2/0)
Jorge Villafana (Santos, MEX; 9/0)
Graham Zusi (Sporting KC; 51/5)

Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 11/1)
Paul Arriola (Tijuana/MEX; 8/2)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 133/17)
Joe Corona (Tijuana/MEX; 20/3)
Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 10/0)
Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 17/1)
Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union; 4/0)
Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 34/6)

Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 25/3)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC; 104/37)
Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders; 134/56)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 19/4)
*New players in bold.
10 comments about "USMNT: Big guns arrive for Gold Cup quarterfinals".
  1. Bob Ashpole, July 17, 2017 at 3:30 a.m.

    I was very impressed with the coaching during the group stage. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

  2. Kent James replied, July 17, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.

    I agree. Arena takes appropriate risks, and most of where he puts people on the field make sense.

  3. Nick Daverese, July 17, 2017 at 8:58 a.m.

    If they do happen to win this tournament he can say he did it the hard way. Fans and some coaches look at it this way about players too. Your only as good as your last game.

  4. john lumbard, July 17, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    Rowe didn't just create and score goals; he was the most-versatile player on the pitch. Late in the game, when you've lost a defender to a red card or an injury, Rowe can move back and do a good job there. The Revolution have called on him to do that several times, and they've played him everywhere on the field.

  5. Eric Dibella, July 17, 2017 at 11:35 a.m.

    I guess I prefer to let the guys who won the group stay and try to win through the elimination stages. Seeing Rowe and Dwyer in the elimination rounds would be a better gauge than the group play.

  6. John Soares, July 17, 2017 at 11:51 a.m.

    Good choices, the kids got a chance and overall looked good. Lots of potential. Winning the cup is important. Bringing in some senior players is smart.

  7. glenn kastrinos, July 17, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.

    I would have let Zardes and Gonzales go. They did not do much against some very weak opposition.

  8. Miguel Aviles, July 17, 2017 at 8:51 p.m.

    I do not understand keeping Zardes but letting Rowe go home for the knockout stages.

  9. beautiful game, July 17, 2017 at 10:27 p.m.

    Big guns? They are a few pistols, but no guns.

  10. Tork Johnson, July 18, 2017 at 2:14 p.m.

    The biggest gun (and also the youngest) had 2 assists and drew a penalty for Dortmund against AC Milan. No one on this roster is even close to Pulisic.

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