Arena Makes 6 Changes Ahead of Gold Cup Quarterfinals

Bruce-Arena-2B

By JACK BELL

US logoHours after the United States defeated Nicaragua, 3-0, on Saturday night to win Group B in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Coach Bruce Arena availed himself of the chance to add and subtract players ahead of the knockout stages.

The U.S. will face a third-place team — El Salvador — in the nightcap of a quarterfinal doubleheader at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Costa Rica will play Panama in the opener. The winners will advance to the semifinals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex., on Saturday. The final is scheduled to be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday, July 26.

Arena’s announcement Sunday morning will have an immediate impact for one of the New York metropolitan area’s Major League Soccer teams. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who did not play in any of the three group stage matches, was dropped and will return to New York City FC in time for Wednesday night’s match against visiting and first-place Toronto. Conversely, Toronto will be without two of its star players — Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore — who were added to the U.S. squad.

The other additions are Darlington Nagbe, goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez (who recently received a one-time change of association from Mexico to the U.S.) and Clint Dempsey. The players leaving the squad, in addition to Johnson, and returning to their MLS teams are Brad Guzan, Dom Dwyer, Alejandro Bedoya (who took himself off the roster awaiting the birth of a child), Cristian Roldan and Kelyn Rowe.

“We have added some experienced players to the roster that can help us in the knockout round of the Gold Cup,” Arena said in a statement. “The players leaving all made a good impression, and I’m optimistic for their future with the national team program.”

Dwyer scored goals in each of the first two group stage matches, but missed a penalty kick against Nicaragua. Bedoya, who wore the captain’s armband on Saturday night, had two assists in the game. Rowe, who played well and saw his stock rise, scored his first international goal in Saturday’s game.

Altidore, Bradley Dempsey and Howard each have more than 100 caps for the U.S.