The CONCACAF Gold Cup is full of wrinkles, none more odd than allowing roster changes after the group stage of the 12-team regional competition.
U.S. Coach Bruce Arena took full advantage of the rule Sunday, replacing the maximum six players and bolstering the experience level of a largely unseasoned squad that struggled at times in a weak quartet.
Five arrivals seem certain of starting in Wednesday’s quarterfinal in Philadelphia against El Salvador: goalkeeper Tim Howard, midfielders Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe, and forwards Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.
The other call-up, Jesse Gonzalez, will serve as the third-choice goalkeeper. The 22-year-old dual national, from MLS’s FC Dallas, recently became eligible to play for the United States after serving on Mexico’s junior teams.
The newcomers replaced goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson; midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, Kelyn Rowe and Cristian Roldan; and forward Dom Dwyer.
“The players leaving all made a good impression,” Arena said, “and I’m optimistic for their future with the national team program.”
The selection of the newcomers was done well in advance of Sunday’s announcement: Four quietly arrived Thursday in Cleveland, the site of the Group B finale Saturday against Nicaragua, and trained with the group Friday.
Three outgoing players knew before the tournament began they would leave this weekend.
Guzan, Howard’s backup for years, is in the process of joining a new club, Atlanta United, after nine years in England. Bedoya, who fueled the 3-0 victory over Nicaragua, was to rejoin his wife for the birth of their second child. And with Gonzalez cleared by FIFA, Johnson was slated to rejoin New York City FC.
The others – all of whom were in their first U.S. camp – did not know until after Saturday’s match, a result that clinched first place. Roldan (Seattle Sounders) was not expected to stay, but Dwyer and Rowe were.
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Source:: The Denver Post