United States national soccer team manager Jurgen Klinsmann on Thursday released via USSoccer.com his 23-man roster for next month's CONCACAF Gold Cup. As expected, veteran midfielder Landon Donovan was included in the group that, by design, featured few holdovers from World Cup qualifying. Defender and former captain Carlos Bocanegra, meanwhile, was left out.
The team will gather in San Diego on July 1 and play Guatemala in a friendly on July 5. The U.S. begins its Gold Cup campaign with a Group C match against Belize in Portland, Ore., on July 9.
In revealing his selections, Klinsmann told USSoccer.com that the players making up the squad would have two goals—first, to win the event and secondly to make individual cases for next year's World Cup.
"The door is always open; you never shut the door in soccer to players, no matter what difficult stretch they are going through with their club teams," Klinsmann said. "This is a good way to show them that even though they went through tough moments with their clubs, we always kept things open."
Donovan, 31, has not featured for the U.S. since the victory at Mexico in August, 2012. Bocanegra, 34, was omitted by mutual consent as he searches for a new club this summer.
"(Bocanegra) is in the middle of making up his mind of where he wants to continue his career," Klinsmann said, per the Washington Post. "We agreed to leave him out in order for him to have all options open to join a new team right away from the start (of the European club season)."
Here is the full roster, courtesy of USSoccer.com:
Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Helsinborg), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Joshua Gatt (Molde FK), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jose Torres (Tigres)
Forwards: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Club Tijuana), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Here are five quick thoughts on the roster.
1. Landon gets his chance
As expected, Donovan will get his chance to return to the national team. Donovan was not part of the U.S. team's recent three-game winning run in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying despite his previous announcement that he wanted to rejoin the team.
As of now, Donovan probably would not be part of the U.S. team at next year's World Cup, should the U.S. qualify. But as I wrote yesterday, Donovan—who, let's remember, is the best American player of all time—can change that with a strong showing at the Gold Cup.
"Once he gets four or five more games, he'll be good as new.," U.S. defender/midfielder DaMarcus Beasley said of Donovan, per USA Today. "Going into the last part of qualifying, I hope he goes into the Gold Cup and shows he belongs. We all know he does. He just has to show it."
Here's his chance.
2. Building depth
Back in January, Klinsmann spoke to USSoccer.com about the need to build two full rosters with both CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup taking place this summer. Now we see how successful that effort was.
The Gold Cup roster features multiple players from the January training camp that was taking place when Klinsmann made those comments. Among their number are Kyle Beckerman, Will Bruin and Chris Wondolowski. None of those guys are necessarily regulars on the so-called U.S. A-team, but they could be valuable members of this squad.
3. Stepping stone
Along that same line of thought, this tournament could be used to build depth for the future.
As this USSoccer.com article points out, Beasley parlayed a strong performance in the 2002 Gold Cup into a place at the 2002 World Cup, where he excelled. Oguchi Onyewu (2005 Gold Cup, 2006 World Cup) and Stuart Holden (2009 Gold Cup, 2010 World Cup) have followed a similar arc in the past.
"This tournament gives us a huge opportunity to see where a lot of the players are," said Klinsmann.
4. Getting to know Jack
Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney is part of the squad and will be looking for his first senior U.S. cap after representing his country at various youth levels. McInerney, 20, leads Major League Soccer with 10 goals this season.
Klinsmann spoke at length to USSoccer.com about McInerney:
Jack seems to have his feet on the ground and is strong enough to come and experience things on the senior level. There is no pressure on Jack at all, just the wish that he gets integrated and adjusted and gives it his best. He seems to be a player who is pretty hungry and has a great instinct for the goal, which is why he has 10 goals already this year. Off the field, we want him to take it one day at a time and become part of the group. It will certainly be important that we keep his feet on the ground and don’t make things bigger than they are. I think he is in good hands in Philadelphia, and that’s the case with many players in MLS.
Could McInerney be the player who uses this year's Gold Cup as a stepping stone? He certainly has played well this season in MLS, but Klinsmann seems to want to take it slow with the youngster.
5. A productive intermezzo?
Per a tweet by Soccer By Ives editor Ives Galarcep, midfielder Brek Shea will join the team for training in San Diego and remain with them until the friendly against Guatemala on July 5. Then he will return to his club, Stoke City of the English Premier League, for preseason training.
More recently, Shea posted a photo of himself posing with two guns to his Instagram account, per NBC Pro Soccer Talk. He quickly deleted the photo and apologized via Twitter. This is no place for a debate on guns, but these recent developments suggest Shea's career has hit a metaphorical speed bump.
Perhaps a few training sessions with the national team will help him get his head right ahead of the new club season.
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