U.S. men’s soccer team head coach Bruce Arena took full advantage of his ability to make six changes to his roster ahead of the Gold Cup knockout rounds. Some of the country’s biggest names are coming to Philadelphia ahead of Wednesday’s quarterfinal, while Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is one of the players departing.
Bedoya isn’t leaving for any soccer-related reason, though. His wife Beatrice is expecting their second child in the coming days. The other departures are goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson, midfielders Kelyn Rowe and Cristian Roldan, and forward Dom Dwyer.
“As much as I would have loved to stay, we’re welcoming a new life,” Bedoya told reporters after starring in the Americans’ 3-0 win over Nicaragua on Saturday in Cleveland. He added that the arrival could come as soon as Monday or Tuesday.
Given that, Bedoya will probably miss the Union’s Wednesday’s game at the Montreal Impact (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network), and return for Saturday’s game at the Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network). The Union will definitely be without midfielder Chris Pontius, as he is remaining with the U.S. team for the rest of the tournament.
Joining the American squad are goalkeepers Jesse Gonzalez and Tim Howard, midfielders Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe, and forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey.
That’s a full complement of big guns, a sign that Arena’s focus has turned from checking out new players to winning the tournament. Indeed, some of the arrivals have already been with the team for a few days, and watched Saturday’s game from a suite at the stadium.
Of the departures, Rowe and Dwyer are somewhat surprising. The former has shown he can translate his creative skills to the international game, while the latter’s nose for goal seems to make him an ideal super-sub behind Altidore. That job will likely now be given to Jordan Morris.
A U.S. Soccer spokesman said on Twitter after the announcement that some of the decisions were not made until after Saturday’s game:
guys coming in decided in advance – some decisions on departures made last night.
— Michael Kammarman (@kammarmanMNT) July 16, 2017
It’s no surprise that the goalkeepers are changing. Guzan is off to complete his move to Atlanta United, while Johnson wasn’t going to play. Howard will be the clear No. 1 in net.
Gonzalez might not just be a spectator, though. He’s been summoned to get his first taste of life with the U.S. national team after switching allegiance from Mexican youth squads. While he’s automatically cap-tied as a result of the nationality change, don’t be surprised if Arena finds a way to get Gonzalez on the field at some point. It would certainly make sense to use him as the last substitute if the Americans can get a comfortable lead Wednesday night.
That is no certainty, of course, as the group stage squad’s struggles showed. But the cavalry set to charge down Broad Street this week brings veteran savvy, a lot of scoring punch, and expectations of a run to a title game showdown with Mexico.
First up is Wednesday’s quarterfinal (9 p.m., Fox Sports 1 and Univision) against El Salvador. With a win there, it will be off to Arlington, Texas for a semifinal against the winner of Wednesday’s other quarterfinal at the Linc, Panama vs. Costa Rica. That kickoff is set for 6 p.m. It’s a single-ticket doubleheader, with prices starting at $30 for the upper deck sidelines. Click here to buy.
Here’s the American roster for the rest of the Gold Cup:
Goalkeepers (3): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas) Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
Dfenders (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, England), Matt Miazga (Chelsea, England), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, Mexico), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana, Mexico), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana, Mexico), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Forwards (4): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution),Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)