A new-look U.S. team hopes to use this Gold Cup to get back into World Cup contention
As the United States Men's National Team (USMNT) gets ready for the 2019 Concacaf Cold Cup which starts on June 15 and runs through July 7, the team recently announced its 23-man roster for the tournament. The U.S. is looking to win consecutive Gold Cup trophies for the first time in program history, and a seventh title overall, which would tie Mexico for most championships in this event. The ultimate goal, however, is to gain momentum heading into qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. After missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, USMNT decided to make some changes.
Those changes were made both on the sidelines and in the field of play. Gregg Berhalter is the head coach now, bringing a new philosophy and style of play to Team USA. Berhalter decided to go with a younger American squad, which will open Gold Cup play against Guyana on June 18. Long gone are the days of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, DeMarcus Beasley, and Tim Howard. This year's team features 13 players who are making their Gold Cup debut and 11 players under the age of 25.
Then you have 11 more players who have 10 caps or fewer. U.S. Soccer has decided to go with new blood in search of their first World Cup title. And Berhalter had to make some difficult roster decisions along the way.
"As always, there were some difficult decisions to be made for this roster and I'm extremely pleased with how the players have shown so far this year overall. We've had a chance to look at the player pool for the last six months and we feel great about the group that will take on the task of trying to win the Gold Cup. This is only the start of the journey. Our ambition is to progress as a team throughout the tournament and put ourselves in a position to be playing July 7 in Chicago," Berhalter said in a statement when the roster was released.
Before the American squad can even think about the World Cup or any other upcoming event, they must first defend home soil and take care of business at the Gold Cup. Here are the 23 players that will be tasked of keeping the Gold Cup trophy in U.S. hands.
Ever since he was called up from the Under-17 unit in 2016, Pulisic has been labeled as the future of United States soccer. The 20-year-old has posted 25 caps and 10 goals while also applying his trade in Europe. Pulisic started his club career with Germany's Borussia Dortmund right before he was called up to Team USA, and earlier this year he was loaned to Chelsea of the U.K.'s Premier League for $73 million. It's an all-time record fee for any American player. The Pennsylvania native has scored 13 goals in 90 European appearances.
What makes Pulisic so special is his ability to score from nearly anywhere on the opponent's side of the field, dish out near-impossible assists, slice through defenses, and take advantage of other team's mistakes. American fans hope to see him in Major League Soccer (MLS) someday, but for now, it's good to see him making an impact for the stars and stripes.
This will be just the second Gold Cup appearance for the 24-year-old Roldan. He already has 11 caps for the national team, although he has yet to score an international goal. But Team USA has confidence in the youngster based on his success at the club level. Between the MLS' Seattle Sounders, the USL Championship's Seattle Sounders 2, and the Premier Development League's Washington Crossfire, Roldan has scored 22 goals and137 caps. Roldan previously made two appearances for Team USA's Under-20 team.
Like Pulisic, Holmes also plays on the club level in the United Kingdom. The 24-year-old Georgia native has suited up for the English Football League, the National League, and League Two. Holmes has accrued 136 caps and 13 goals across the pond and is set to make his Gold Cup debut for Team USA as he looks to earn his third national team cap (and hopefully an international goal or two).
The most experienced player on this team (31), and one of the few holdovers from previous international competitions, Bradley knows what it's like to hoist the Gold Cup trophy. Bradley currently has 145 caps, the most on the team and third all-time behind only Cobi Jones (164) and Landon Donovan (157). His 17 goals place him third currently and ninth all time. If the younger players can rally around Bradley's knowledge and experience then Team USA has a good chance of winning that seventh Gold Cup.
This young man knows firsthand what Christian Pulisic is capable of as they went head-to-head in the German Bundesliga. Since 2017 McKennie has worn the uniform of Schalke 04 (one goal, 47 caps), and has had his fair share of games against Pulisic. Now imagine what these two fine athletes will do together as teammates. McKennie has nine caps with one goal in the United States uniform and he's looking to increase those numbers.
At 26, Trapp is the second-oldest midfielder behind Michael Bradley. But he's also participated in the U.S. program since 2011. Trapp started off with the U-18 team, moved up to U-20 in 2012, then took reps with U-23 before getting elevated to the senior team in '16. In total Trapp has 47 caps with one goal for Team USA.
After getting called up to the national team back in 2007, Altidore has become one of the team leaders. His 111 caps are second on this roster and good for 10th in team history. He's third in career goals with 41, trailing only Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan (57 each). Team USA will need Altidore's offense in order to claim yet another Gold Cup championship.
Zardes is quickly rising up the ranks for the U.S. team. The 27-year-old has been on the senior unit since 2015 and has since collected seven international goals in 45 appearances. He was part of the 2017 Gold Cup championship team, and he brings vital, mid-level experience to this group of mostly youngsters. Zardes will be a vital player moving forward.
Another relative newcomer to the team, Lewis has accrued just four caps and still looking for his first goal. But he also played for the Under-20 team for which he scored a goal in six appearances.
Morris is third in both caps (28) and goals (5) at his position.
He may only be 24, but Arriola has already posted 23 caps and six goals for the national team since joining in 2016. He has been a part of the U.S. soccer program since he was a teenager and has played for the U-17, U-18, U-20, and U-23 teams along the way. He has 29 caps and three goals while wearing the U.S. uniform on the pitch.
The New Zealand-born Boyd is the newest member of Team USA. FIFA rules allowed him to switch to the U.S. team as his father is an American-born citizen. He made his international debut in an international friendly against Venezuela on June 9. While he didn't register much on the stat sheet, coach Gregg Berhalter likes the energy that Boyd shows on the field. It'll be interesting to see how much playing time Boyd gets in this Gold Cup.
While he has 74 appearances and five goals scored for the New York Red Bulls in MLS, the California native has made just six appearances for the national team since getting called up in 2018. His playing time for the Gold Cup is yet to be determined, but he adds depth to the USA backfield.
The third-year Montreal Impact defenseman was added to the roster back in January and has since appeared in five matches for Team USA.
Miazga started his international career with Poland's Under-18 squad back in 2012. A year later he switched countries and suited up for Team USA's U-18 team. And since then Mizaga has worked his way through the U.S ranks via U-18, U-20, and U-23 before finally being elevated to the senior team in 2015. When you combine Miazga's international totals he has two goals in 40 appearances.
He's the third-youngest defender on the roster (24) and the least experienced in terms of international games (4). The Gold Cup will be an excellent learning opportunity for Lima.
This nine-year USMNT veteran joined the squad as the new guy back in 2010, but since then he's grown into the leader of Team USA's defense. He's posted 50 caps and has scored three goals during his international career, and he's been even more impressive at the club level. Between MLS, Liga MX in Mexico, and the German Bundesliga, Gonzalez has scored 15 goals in 270 matches combined. His veteran experience is highly valued by the coaching staff.
Gonzalez was a member of the last two Gold Cup championship teams (2015, '17) and also was a part of the last U.S. team to qualify for the World Cup (2014). He is an aggressive defender that can clear dangerous balls, keep opposing shooters at bay, and knows how to support the goalie behind him. If opposing teams want to score on the United States, they'll have to find a way around Gonzalez to do so.
The man who ranks second among his Fulham F.C. (Premier League) teammates in caps (141, with two goals) has only made 30 appearances (with one goal) for his home team. But Ream has been a part of USMNT since 2010 and has learned plenty while coming off the bench for the most part. And when you take his experience with Team USA and combine it with his accomplishments in one of the toughest club leagues in the world, Ream is more than ready to make an impact at the 2019 Gold Cup.
Team USA's youngest defender (20, tied with Pulisic for youngest on the roster) Adams has already proven himself at the highest levels of the sport. When he's not wearing Team USA's kit, he's sporting one for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. He's also suited up for the New York Red Bulls (MLS), New York Red Bulls 2 (USL Championship), along with Team USA's U-17 and U-20 squads. Put it all together and Adams has collected 147 caps with four goals scored. Adams is more than ready for the fierce competition at the Gold Cup. Editor's note: Adams withdrew from the Gold Cup roster on June 11 due to a groin injury.
Zimmerman, 26, plays his club ball for Los Angeles FC in MLS but he's been working within the U.S. Soccer program since 2010. He logged three caps at the U-18 level from 2010-11, posted 10 caps and two goals for U-20 from 2011-13, three caps for U-23 from 2015-16, and seven caps with two goals for the senior team since '17.
A nine-year veteran of MLS, Johnson may only have seven caps for Team USA, but he was a member of the last two Gold Cup Championship teams (2013, '17). But it's what Johnson has accomplished in MLS that positions him as the favorite to win the starting job. Since 2010, while playing for the Chicago Fire and New York City FC, Johnson has accumulated 248 caps and 772 saves.
While he may only have 10 caps to his credit, Steffen does have four international wins for Team USA, three of which were shutouts. He's also donned the gloves for Team USA's U-18, U-20, and U-23 squads for which he's accumulated 30 total caps. Steffen understands what it takes to man the net for Team USA and he's proven that he can get the job done when the opportunity arises.
The 2014 Big Ten Conference goalkeeper of the year while playing at Northwestern is the new guy in town. He made two appearances for the Under-23 team before getting called up to the senior squad. On the MLS level, Miller has been credited with 152 saves in 49 games over the past two seasons playing for LAFC (Los Angeles Football Club).