USMNT (US Men’s National Team) head coach Bruce Arena selected Sounders star forward Clint Dempsey to lead his team into the Gold Cup knockout stage.
USMNT head coach Bruce Arena sent five players back to their MLS clubs and homes, including Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan and Sporting KC star forward Dom Dwyer ahead of the Americans’ knockout round match against El Salvador in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Tournament.
Arena replaced Roldan and the others with Sounders star forward Clint Dempsey, and USMNT legends Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, and Michael Bradley. Arena also added Portland Timbers star Darlington Nagbe for good measure.
The USMNT managed to win their group without Dempsey and the others by the skin of their teeth. After a disappointing draw with Panama, Sounders forward Jordan Morris saved the American team’s bacon with a brace against Martinique.
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The USMNT needed a late goal from Matt Miazga to beat Nicaragua 3-0 on Saturday and win the group outright after Panama defeated Martinique 3-0 earlier that day. The American side missed two penalty kicks in the win, which helped them avoid the dangerous Costa Rica team in the knockout phase.
The missed PKs shouldn’t be a problem for this new American side, which now features many of the same veterans who have found success for their country before. Dempsey and the others add a calming, business-like presence to the team, which will still presumably feature Jordan Morris as a facet of the Americans’ attack.
Mexico is probably the favorite to win the Gold Cup, but there’s hope for the Americans, who already managed a draw with El Tri in Mexico City this year. If the USMNT beats El Salvador on Wednesday at 6pm PST in Arlington, Texas, they’ll face the dreaded Costa Rica for a shot at the final, and possibly a rematch against Mexico.