By IVES GALARCEP
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Jurgen Klinsmann had just finished praising his U.S. Men’s National Team after Tuesday’s win vs. Costa Rica when he was asked about whether he would make use of the ability to make chances to his roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup knockout rounds.
“I am in contact with clubs already, but you’ve got to give me a couple of more hours till tomorrow, because I first want to talk obviously to the players, but we’re going to make some changes.”
So yes, Klinsmann will make roster changes, and up to four players could be sent back to their club teams and replaced by new players ahead of Sundays quarterfinal vs. El Salvador.
Who will he send home, and who will he call in? Here are the Top Five candidates to be sent home, and Top Five candidates to be called in by the USMNT for the Gold Cup knockout round:
FIVE USMNT PLAYERS MOST LIKELY TO LEAVE GOLD CUP
Before Josh Gatt’s injury, Jurgen Klinsmann stated how important it was for Shea to go to Stoke City and work to establish a role with the Potters under new coach Mark Hughes. Now, with a chance to leave the Gold Cup on a high note, having him head to England now makes sense.
Hasn’t played a minute at the Gold Cup, and doesn’t seem likely to be called on for the knockout rounds. If Klinsmann wanted the young striker to be able to experience the USMNT set-up, that mission has been accomplished, along with word from several players that McInerney has been very impressive in training.
It would seem a bit strange to send Onyewu packing after making him team captain for the Cuba match, but Klinsmann’s decision to start Goodson and Orozco vs. Costa Rica suggests that maybe Onyewu lost ground in the centerback pecking order, or he could be more injured than the team is letting on (he suffered a knock in the Cuba match).
Another player who hasn’t seen the field yet, Ashe seems unlikely to be called on in the knockout rounds with DaMarcus Beasley and Edgar Castillo around.
With RSL already missing Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando for the duration of the tournament, having Beltran return makes some sense. Especially since Klinsmann has spoken highly of Michael Parkhurst as if he is likely to be the first-choice right back in the knockout rounds (and Michael Orozco is an option to provide cover at the position).
FIVE MOST LIKELY TO BE CALLED IN
The safest bet to be called in, Zusi can give the team options on both wings, and step in as a starter. It might seem unfair to Sporting KC to call him in, but it should be noted Sporting plays Real Salt Lake next weekend, a team with two to three key starters already on the USMNT Gold Cup roster (a number that could change if Beltran is sent back).
It always seemed a safe bet that Besler or Omar Gonzalez would be called in for the knockout rounds, if not both centerbacks. Clarence Goodson and Michael Orozco performed well in their group stage opportunities, but if Klinsmann is serious about winning this Gold Cup, calling in his first-choice centerbacks would make sense.
Much like Besler, Gonzalez has become a first-choice centerback option for Klinsmann, and he even be a more likely option to be called up for the Gold Cup knockout rounds if Onyewu is sent home.
If Zusi doesn’t get the call, and even if he does, Johnson makes sense as a call-up for his attacking versatility, either as a winger or forward. Seattle probably won’t love losing Johnson considering the team’s recent struggles, but Sigi Schmid might just have to bite the bullet on this one.
Before you go scratching your head on this one, consider the other options. Whether due to injuries (Brad Davis) or club situations (Bobby Wood, working to earn a starting role at 1860 Munich), or simple USMNT inexpierence (Chris Pontius) the other attacking options in the pool seem less realistic than Gordon, who is back playing regularly for San Jose, and who did show well the last time he was called upon.