United States manager Bruce Arena has pushed the panic button and brought his stars back for the knockout stages of the 2017 Gold Cup.
The U.S. added Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey, striker Jozy Altidore and midfielder Michael Bradley from Toronto FC, Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe, and Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard.
All five took part in the most recent round of World Cup qualifying in June, and four of them, Bradley, Howard, Altidore and Dempsey, have more than 100 caps. They will all be available when the U.S. takes on El Salvador in the quarterfinals on Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Leaving the U.S. Gold Cup squad are Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, New England Revolution forward Kelyn Rowe, Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan, and goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson.
Tournament rules allow teams to make up to six changes once the group stage is complete, as long as the added players come from a team’s 40-man preliminary roster.
“We have added some experienced players to the roster that can help us in the knockout round of the Gold Cup,” Arena said on Sunday. “The players leaving all made a good impression, and I’m optimistic for their future with the national team program.”
Some of the moves were planned in advance. Bedoya is expecting the birth of his second child to take place this week and thus was always expected to depart. U.S. Soccer indicated that the departures of Guzan and Johnson were also anticipated.
That said, the decision to send Roldan, Rowe and Dwyer back to their clubs is surprising. Rowe scored the Americans’ second goal in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua. Dwyer scored the lone goal against Panama, while also being involved in the buildup for two of the three goals scored on Saturday. Roldan played the full 90 minutes in the 3-2 win over Martinique.
But Arena has essentially added five starters, which resulted in some parts of the field being overloaded. That included the center of midfield, thanks to the addition of Bradley, so Roldan misses out. Nagbe’s addition would have meant reduced minutes for Rowe, so the decision was made to send Rowe back to his club side.
The fact that Arena chose to add two forwards, combined with the versatility of Agudelo and Jordan Morris, meant that Dwyer will return to Sporting KC.
USA Gold Cup 2017 Schedule
Wed, July 19 in Philadelphia: QF#1: USA vs. El Salvador and Costa Rica v Panama – Buy Tickets
Sat, July 22 in Dallas: USA/El Salvador winner vs Costa Rica/Panama winner – Buy Tickets
Gold Cup Final
Wed, July 26 in Santa Clara : SF #1 vs. SF #2 – Buy Tickets
USA World Cup Hexagonal Schedule:
Sept. 1, 2017: USA vs. Costa Rica
Sept. 5, 2017: Honduras vs. USA
Oct. 6, 2017: USA vs. Panama
Oct. 10, 2017: Trinidad and Tobago vs. USA