Thursday U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann officially revealed the 23-man roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. Klinsmann gave most of the European-based U.S. internationals a couple weeks to enjoy their brief summer breaks. It means the roster for the Gold Cup is more of a B/B+ squad than the full A team, although there’s a chance some of the remaining players might sport a B.A. Baracus type mohawk if we’re lucky.
The big headline to takeaway here is that Landon Donovan will be back with the U.S. for the first time since his self-imposed sabbatical away from the game earlier this year. Donovan only played in six games for the U.S. in 2012, his fewest appearances since 2000. During the Americans recent run of four straight wins, including three in World Cup qualifiers, it was remarkable how much of an afterthough Donovan became thanks in part to the play of Graham Zusi, Fabian Johnson and even Eddie Johnson in the wide-attacking roles.
It’s still foolish to think Donovan doesn’t have something to contribute toward the 2014 World Cup cycle. The Gold Cup will be a good chance for Klinsmann and fans alike to access if he’s still an automatic inclusion for next summer in Brazil, or if he has to prove it on the field to warrant a place in the final 23-man roster. Donovan still has speed to open up play on the counterattack and a knack for scoring in front of goal and the U.S. can’t go into 2014 relying on Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore to score somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of its goals.
The news isn’t as good for another man who once wore the captain’s armband for the U.S., Carlos Bocanegra, who was left off the roster after being named in the initial 35-man group. The 34-year-old defender’s international career is likely over in part to his unsettled club situation following the financial collapse of Rangers. His former U.S. central defense partner, Oguchi Onyewu, was picked by Klinsmann offering the Maryland native a lifeline back into the fold.
Elsewhere, Stuart Holden also figures to get an extended run in the midfield during the Gold Cup as he works his way back from multiple major leg injuries. The Gold Cup could also be the international debut of Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney. The 20-year-old has scored 10 goals this year in MLS.
Guys like Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Josh Gatt, Mix Diskerud and Alejandro Bedoya could also work themselves into the ‘A-Team’ picture with distinguished Gold Cups.
The Gold Cup might feel like an afterthought, but the winner of this year’s tournament will meet the winner of the 2015 event to detemine who’ll play in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. Convuluted, yes, but there is still meaning. The U.S. opens group play July 9 in Portland against superpower, Belize. At the absolute minimum, the Gold Cup is a chance for the U.S. to face Mexico — the two-time defending champion — in a game that means something, hopefully the final on July 28 at Solider Field.
If you’ll recall, the last time the rivals met there for a Gold Cup final, this happened:
Previously: Jozy Altidore is Hot, Jurgen Klinsmann is Making All the Right Moves, and US Soccer is on Fire
Previously: Landon Donovan Looks Like He’s Having a Good Time in Cambodia
Previously: Landon Donovan Gives Himself “50-50″ Shot Of Playing At 2014 World Cup