USMNT: Time for Gold Cup experimentation is over

U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena says he had no qualms about making six roster changes for the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup and they weren't pre-planned moves instigated in response to the up-and-down play for the USA in the group stage. Two stats stand out: the six new players have made 503 U.S. caps (vs. 133 for the six departed players) and scored 111 U.S. goals (vs. 5).

"I was just following the rules of the tournament, that you can bring in new players," Arena said. "I thought the group stage would be a great opportunity to look at some new players. If we advanced in the tournament, it would make sense to bring in some more experienced players."

U.S. Roster Changes:
Who's In ...
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 133/17)
Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders; 134/56)
Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 115/0)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC; 104/37)
Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 17/1)
Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0)

Who's Out ...
Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 64/2)
Brad Guzan (Atlanta United; 57/0)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)
Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 3/1)
Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC; 3/2)
Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 1/0)

MLS was on break for the Gold Cup, so the six players had two weekends off.

"Giving those players that came in a little bit of a break, and not having to have the previous three-and-a-half weeks with the team," Arena added. "It would be good for them. That was simply the plan. I decided to do that well in advance of the tournament, so it had nothing to do with where we were, penalties or anything like that."

The two departures that raised some eyebrows were those of Dom Dwyer (who scored in his first two international appearances but missed a penalty kick against Nicaragua) and Kelyn Rowe (who assisted on Dwyer's goal against Panama and scored against Nicaragua).

Where they'll play ...

Tim Howard. Takes over from Brad Guzan (two starts) and Bill Hamid (one start). Guzan will join new MLS club Atlanta United, while Hamid remains with the USA.

Michael Bradley. Returns as captain in central midfield, where he'll likely partner with Kellyn Acosta (with whom he played against Mexico in June). The other option: Dax McCarty.

Darlington Nagbe. Moves into one of the outside midfield spots, where Alejandro Bedoya and Rowe played. Opposite Nagbe will be Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes or Chris Pontius.

Clint Dempsey. If he starts, he'll likely play up front behind Jozy Altidore, like he did in the first three World Cup qualifiers in 2017. Jordan Morris and Juan Agudelo will other attacking options. Joe Corona could start if Arena goes with five players in midfield like against Panama and Nicaragua.

Jozy Altidore. Still the No. 1 striker, making Dwyer's chances of playing slim if he had stayed in camp.
4 comments about "USMNT: Time for Gold Cup experimentation is over".
  1. Joe Linzner, July 19, 2017 at 9:52 a.m.

    Altidore? ? ?

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, July 19, 2017 at 3:31 p.m.

    I'm not a fan of his, but he is still only 27 and seems to be improving.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, July 19, 2017 at 5:21 p.m.

    Everyone loves to bash Altidore but which US striker is better other than Wood? And no European based players are in this squad other than fringe players, Lichaj and Miazga.

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, July 19, 2017 at 7:53 p.m.

    Dempsey

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