The U.S. will head to the CONCACAF Gold Cup missing most of its top players.
“We don’t want to look at this as an experimental team. We want to look at this as a team that could compete to win Gold Cup,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said Thursday after announcing his 23-man roster. “Let’s be really clear with that. And that’s going to be our expectations, and will it be difficult? Absolutely. But we think there’s enough backbone in this group. We think there’s enough veteran leadership in this group.”
Among the missing are Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Gio Reyna, Sergiño Dest, John Brooks, Zack Steffen and Josh Sargent, all being given time off ahead of preseasons with their European clubs and the start of World Cup qualifying on Sept. 2.
“The major European players were going to get time off after Nations League to prepare for their season,” Berhalter said. “Some other players that are in critical situations in Europe, we felt that it was more important for them to be in preseason with their team and give them a good chance of making a positive impact with their new coaching staff and with their club, rather than to be in Gold Cup.”
Defender Reggie Cannon and midfielders Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget and Jackson Yueill are the only holdovers on the 23-man roster from the group the U.S. used for the Nations League final four last month. Acosta was the only starter in the 3-2 win over Mexico on June 6.
Forward Jozy Altidore, goalkeeper Bill Hamid and midfielder Julian Green were among the 36 players cut Thursday.
Five players could make debuts: forward Matthew Hoppe, midfielders Gianluca Busio and Eryk Williamson, and defenders Donovan Pines and James Sands.
“At center back, we’re thin,” Berhalter said.
He said defender Bryan Reynolds was left off because of his situation at Roma.
“He has a new coach in Jose Mourinho, and we felt if he misses all the preseason with Mourinho, we know the track record of Mourinho liking to play older players. This would set him back too far to be able to make an impact with us in the future,” Berhalter said. “We had a number of cases like that, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers — Matt Miazga is another one, that we’re balancing the workload of the summer and his season.”
Among those hoping they can use the Gold Cup to play their way back into first-choice player pool are goalkeeper Brad Guzan, midfielder Cristian Roldan, and forwards Paul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes.
Guzan, 36, has 64 international appearances. He was Tim Howard’s backup at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and started at the 2016 Copa America. He has not played for the U.S. since a September 2019 exhibition against Uruguay.
Sean Johnson and Matt Turner are the other two goalkeepers.
Nineteen players are from Major League Soccer, joined by defenders Cannon of Portugal’s Boavista and Shaq Moore of Spain’s Tenerife, and forwards Hoppe of Germany’s Schalke and Nicholas Gioacchini of France’s Caen.
Cannon is said to be seeking a transfer.
“It’s an unfortunate situation at his club that turns into a fortunate situation for us,” Berhalter said.
Also dropped from the 59-man preliminary roster were goalkeeper Tim Melia; defenders Julian Araujo, Carter-Vickers, Justin Che, Kyle Duncan, Chase Gasper, Jonathan Gomez, Aaron Herrera, Henry Kessler, Erik Palmer-Brown, Kevin Paredes and Auston Trusty; midfielders Cole Bassett, Johnny Cardoso, Caden Clark, Hassani Dotson, Leon Flach, Djordje Mihailovic, Moses Nyeman, Andrés Perea, Paxton Pomykal and Tanner Tessman; and forwards Frankie Amaya, Corey Baird, Cade Cowell, Jeremy Ebobisse, Jesus Ferreira, Rubio Rubin, Chris Mueller, Ricardo Pepi, Robbie Robinson, Memo Rodríguez and Mason Toye.
Clark is recovering from an appendectomy, the New York Red Bulls said on June 23.
Araujo played for the U.S. Under-20 team but also is eligible for Mexico.
“It’s a case of him being a dual national and not fully ready to commit to the team, and he knew that the Gold Cup would lock him in permanently, and he wasn’t ready to make that step. I don’t want to speak for him,” Berhalter said. “I can imagine when he looks at the depth of the right back position he sees a logjam there and he doesn’t maybe fully see his pathway to being a starter in the next World Cup. What I can tell you is we really value Julian and we think he’s an outstanding player, and we think he can make a run at being a starter on this team.”
Nyeman, a 17-year-old D.C. United player, was born in Liberia and has been in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship.
The 31-year-old Altidore had been a mainstay for the U.S. for a decade and was part of the roster at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, but has struggled with injuries. He has 42 goals in 115 international appearances, last playing for the U.S. in the 1-0 loss to Mexico in the 2019 Gold Cup final. He has not played for Toronto since May 22.
Green, a 26-year-old with Germany’s Greuther Fürth, was on the 2014 U.S. World Cup roster.
A team may replace an injured player until a day before its first game.
The U.S. is based in Kansas City, Kansas, for the first round and opens Group B on July 11 against Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guatemala or Guyana. The Americans play Martinique on July 15 and Canada on July 18.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta), Sean Johnson (New York City), Matt Turner (New England)
Defenders: George Bello (Atlanta), Reggie Cannon (Boavista, Portugal), Shaq Moore (Tenerife, Spain), Donovan Pines (D.C.), Miles Robinson (Atlanta), James Sands (New York City), Sam Vines (Colorado), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado), Gianluca Busio (Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle), Eryk Williamson (Portland), Jackson Yueill (San Jose)
Forwards: Paul Arriola (DC), Daryl Dike (Orlando), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen, France), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke, Germany), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus)
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