MLS: 32 candidates to watch for U.S. Gold Cup roster

Next up for the U.S. men's national team is the Gold Cup in July.

Like it is when the Gold Cup is played in the middle of the World Cup qualifying cycle, the USA will be without most of its top players. Its European-based stars are all off on vacation and will then rejoin their clubs to prepare for the new season and gear up for the start of World Cup qualifying in September.

In 2017, the USA won the Gold Cup, but MLS players then formed the majority of the first-choice team. (Eight starters in the 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago in Couva played in the Gold Cup.)

Gregg Berhalter's squad this summer is expected to be comprised almost entirely of MLS players, but just three MLS players played for the USA in the recent Concacaf Nations League -- Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget and Jackson Yueill.

Concacaf regulations required all teams to submit a 60-player provisional list from which the 23 players for the Gold Cup must be selected and submitted 10 days before the start of the group stage. Concacaf released those provisional lists on Friday 

Here are 32 MLS candidates to follow as play resumes with three full matchdays over the next week following the June international break.

Bill Hamid, 30
(D.C. United). 8/0
Sean Johnson, 32 (NYCFC). 9/0
David Ochoa, 20 (Real Salt Lake). 0/0
*Matt Turner, 26 (New England Revolution). 1/0
*Played for USA in 2021.

No. 1 Zack Steffen's knee injury in the Concacaf Nations League final -- luckily, it is not considered serious -- is a reminder that the Berhalter's staff needs to develop depth in the position. Ethan Horvath provided the heroics in the Nations League final, but he is the only other internationally tested keeper based in Europe. Turner debuted for the USA in the 7-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, preserving the shutout with a save on a penalty kick, and will likely enter the Gold Cup as the No. 1 choice.

Julian Araujo, 19
(LA Galaxy). 1/0
*George Bello, 19 (Atlanta United). 1/0
Justin Che, 17 (FC Dallas), 0/0
Kyle Duncan, 23
(NY Red Bulls). 1/0
Justen Glad, 24 (Real Salt Lake). 0/0
*Aaron Herrera, 24 (Real Salt Lake). 1/0
*Miles Robinson, 24 (Atlanta United). 3/1
Auston Trusty, 22 (Colorado Rapids). 0/0
*Sam Vines, 22 (Colorado Rapids). 3/0
*Walker Zimmerman, 28 (Nashville SC). 14/2
*Played for USA in 2021.

Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls) would have anchored the backline, but he is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Robinson and Zimmerman are the likely starters in the middle. Araujo's strong start to the 2021 MLS season with the LA Galaxy makes him the favorite at right back. Vines, who started at left back for the U-23s in Olympic qualifying, is the most experienced outside back with three senior caps. Che trained with the USA before the Switzerland game in May. He'll be available for the Gold Cup because Bayern Munich has put on hold plans to complete a permanent deal during the summer transfer window.

*Kellyn Acosta, 25
(Colorado Rapids). 31/2
Frankie Amaya, 20 (NY Red Bulls). 0/0
Gianluca Busio, 19 (Sporting KC), 0/0
Leon Flach, 20
(Philadelphia Union). 0/0
*Sebastian Lletget, 28 (LA Galaxy). 24/7
Cristian Roldan, 26 (Seattle Sounders) 20/0
James Sands, 20 (NYCFC). 0/0
Eryk Williamson, 24 (Portland Timbers). 0/0
*Jackson Yueill, 24 (San Jose Earthquakes). 12/0
*Played for USA in 2021.

Besides Acosta, Lletget, Yueill, Roldan is an obvious choice. He is having an excellent season for the Seattle Sounders, the leaders in MLS's overall standings. Williamson was controversially left off the U-23 roster and has been playing well for the Timbers. Amaya, Busio, Flach and Sands are all youngsters with promise.

Efrain Alvarez, 18
(LA Galaxy). 0/0
*Paul Arriola, 26 (D.C. United). 35/8
Corey Baird, 25 (LAFC). 4/0
Caden Clark, 18 (NY Red Bulls). 0/0
Cade Cowell, 17 (San Jose Earthquakes). 0/0
*Daryl Dike, 21 (Orlando City). 3/1
*Chris Mueller, 24 (Orlando City). 2/2
Rubio Rubin, 25 (Real Salt Lake). 7/0
Gyasi Zardes, 29 (Columbus Crew). 56/12
*Played for USA in 2021.

The likely center forwards are Dike and Zardes unless Orlando City sells Dike. (Reports continue of interest from Premier League following his impressive loan spell at Barnsley.) What the USA lacks from its MLS contingent is much verticality. Arriola is the only winger in the group who has been capped in 2021. Alvarez, Clark and Cowell are three of the top young talents in MLS. Alvarez was on the provisional rosters of both the USA and Mexico for Olympic qualifying -- he instead joined Mexico's senior national team for its two friendlies -- and on Mexico's provisional roster for the Nations League. He'd need to file a switch of association to play for the USA.

(Editor's Note: Alvarez was not on the U.S. provisional roster.)

Schedule: The USA will be based in Kansas City for the entire group stage. It begins play on July 11 against the winner of a preliminary-round pod involving Haiti, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Bermuda and Barbados July 2-6 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After that, the USA will face Martinique on July 15 and Canada (its second opponent in the Octagonal) on July 18.

4 comments about "MLS: 32 candidates to watch for U.S. Gold Cup roster".
  1. E Velazquez, June 18, 2021 at 7:18 a.m.

    Why not Mathew Hoppe from Shalke ?

  2. Chris Wasdyke replied, June 18, 2021 at 7:51 a.m.

    I was under the impression this was going to be an entirely domestic based squad.

  3. Robert Biondolillo replied, June 18, 2021 at 7:58 a.m.

    Hoppe is already in the yet to be released roster.  Schalke confirmed it.  The article covers MLS players to watch for, but there will be a few overseas players as well.

  4. John Polis, June 18, 2021 at 5:06 p.m.

    We are getting to the point, especially in a World Cup qualifying year, where the Gold Cup is at best an afterthought and at worst a waste of time. The Nations League final gave us all everything that we could want in USA-Mexico. Tough act to follow. And with our best players all gone (same likely with Mexico), this competition will be, at best a look-see at young players and at worst, a yawn.

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