The U.S. Men's National Team kicks off their 2017 Gold Cup games today at 3:30 CT in Nashville. Arena hopes to lead his team to their sixth confederation championship but more importantly he looks to determine the talent level available to him.
With this squad more of a ‘B’ team, many of the players are trying to either stay in contention or work themselves into a spot for qualifying and eventually the World Cup. Arena called in a number of players with few (or zero) caps with a sprinkling of veterans mixed in the group.
Sporting Kansas City is represented by U.S. veterans Matt Besler and Graham Zusi with Dom Dwyer earning his first call. Dwyer became a citizen this year and was able to switch federations to U.S. Soccer.
Both Besler and Zusi have seen their national team time reduced recently but are both capable of making the ‘A’ squad and still contributing and will want to continue making that case to Arena.
Dwyer earned his first cap in the U.S. 2-1 victory over Ghana as a warm-up for the Gold Cup. The pesky Sporting KC forward not only earned his first cap, he notched his first international goal in just the 18th minute. Dwyer has been one of the best scorers in MLS the past few years and hopes to translate that into a future spot for the U.S. squad. Perhaps more than his goal scoring ability, his feisty play and experience at starting the defensive effort as the forward could earn him a role for Arena.
Not only are the players fighting to earn a spot for the future, they will be trying to maintain a spot on the roster throughout the tournament. Arena can replace up to six players if they make it out of the group stage.
For Zusi, he looks to go all the way and win the Gold Cup. “To win this tournament is definitely our end goal,” Zusi told reporters. “Not looking ahead of Panama is what we are focused on right now. We’re taking it one game at a time to make sure we get out of the group stage.”
The first and toughest opponent in the group stage is Panama, a team the U.S. has faced many times and enjoy an 11-1-5 all-time record versus their CONCACAF foe. This does not mean Los Canaleros (The Canal Men) will be an easy match for the Yanks.
Panama has worked themselves into routinely being in the top four in CONCACAF and have managed some good results against the Americans. They beat the U.S. in the group stage of the 2011 Gold Cup and won on penalty kicks in the 2015 third-place game. The most recent result for Panama was 1-1 draw in Panama City in March during qualifying.
“Panama is an extremely tough opponent, especially right out of the gate,” Matt Besler observed. “We know it’s going to be a tough game, we seem to have played them a lot in recent years. Every single game has been different but they have all been tough, physical battles.”
The U.S. faces Martinique on the 12th and Nicaragua on the 15th to round out group play.
How to Watch
Venue: Nissan Stadium; Nashville, Tenn.
Kickoff Time: 3:30 p.m. CT
TV: FOX, Univision, UDN, TSN2
USA: All Gold Cup matches are streamed in English in the USA on FOX Sports GO and FOX Soccer 2Go and in Spanish on the Univision Deportes app, Univisiondeportes.com and Univision Now.
CANADA: Streams in Canada will be carried by TSN GO and TSN.ca
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 55/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 2/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 40/1), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 40/1), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 3/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 11/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 2/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX; 7/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 49/5)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 9/1), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 6/2), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 61/2), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX; 18/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 7/0), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union; 2/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 1/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 32/7)
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 23/3),Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 1/1), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 16/2)
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Jose Calderon (CD Marathon/HON); Orlando Mosquera (Tauro FC); Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco FC)
DEFENDERS (8) : Roberto Chen (Deportivo Arabe Unido); Eric Davis (FC DAC 1904 DunajskA Streda/SVK); Fidel Escobar (Unattached); Roderick Miller (Atlético Nacional/COL); Michael Amir Murillo (New York Red Bulls/USA); Luis Ovalle (Unattached); Angel Patrick (Deportivo Arabe Unido); Jan Carlos Vargas (Tauro FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Edgar Yoel Barcenas (Cafetaleros de Tapachula/MEX); Miguel Camargo (New York City FC/USA); Armando Cooper (Toronto FC/CAN); Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes/USA); Gabriel Gomez (Atlético Bucaramanga/COL); Leslie Heraldez (Deportivo Arabe Unido); Josiel Nuñez (CD Plaza Amador); Valentin Pimentel (CD Plaza Amador)
FORWARDS (4) : Abdiel Arroyo (Danubio FC/URU); Ricardo Clarke (Unattached); Ismael Diaz (FC Porto/POR); Gabriel Torres (FC Lausanne-Sport/SUI)