The USMNT roster has undergone a bit of a makeover in the midst of its 2017 Gold Cup campaign. The tournament allows six changes to every roster between the group stage and the quarterfinals. Head coach Bruce Arena made changes in the goalkeeper position, midfield, and attacking third.
Veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard will come in to replace Brad Guzan, who had a good group stage — excluding the Martinique game, in which the U.S. allowed two goals against the Caribbean minnows. Guzan will go home to start his tenure with Atlanta United. FC Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez made news when he decided to switch his international allegiance from Mexico to the U.S., and he replaces Bill Hamid, but we can expect to see Howard for the rest of the tournament.
Arena is sending home three midfielders in Alejandro Bedoya, Kelyn Rowe, and Cristian Roldan. There’s no surprise in the goodbye to Bedoya, who has proven himself on the international stage over the years and played well in the first three games of this tournament. He will go home to his family, as he and his wife are expecting a second child.
Kelyn Rowe made his debut in the pre-tournament tune-up against Ghana and impressed in the group stage, so I was a bit taken aback by this decision, but Bruce Arena’s lineup decisions are often unpredictable. Cristian Roldan got his first cap in the game against Martinique, and Arena will look for some more experience in the knockout stages. He brings in Michael Bradley, a USMNT vet that will captain the side. The other midfield addition is Darlington Nagbe. The Portland Timbers creative midfielder should start against El Salvador on Wednesday.
Up top, Dom Dwyer will be forced out by the arrival of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. Dwyer has had a good couple of weeks in his first appearances as an American international, but it looks like Arena is going for experience with Dempsey and Altidore. Clint Dempsey needs two goals to surpass Landon Donovan as the USMNT’s all-time leading scorer.
The defense will remain untouched, and but Arena’s personnel choices for the back four will be something to keep an eye on after the group did plenty of rotating in the group stage. It appears as though he is looking for experience for the rest of the tournament, so I would predict a center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler with Jorge Villafana and either Eric Lichaj or Graham Zusi at right back. This defense had a good group stage, allowing just three goals.
Going into this tournament, it was unknown if Bruce Arena would stick with his young team through the whole tournament or bring in some veterans to go for gold. Unlike Mexico, who is keeping their mostly inexperienced team intact going into their quarterfinal against Honduras, Arena is selecting some proven World Cup talent.
The USMNT will face El Salvador at 8 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, and the winner of that game will face the winner of Costa Rica and Panama.