U.S. Men's National Team
Arena Bounces Rowe and Dwyer from Gold Cup Squad
July 16, 2017
BEYOND WINNING THE TOURNAMENT, U.S. men's national team coach Bruce Arena indicated he was looking to use the 2017 Gold Cup to identify players who might make an impact on the full U.S. side—through World Cup qualifying and beyond. After the first three games, forward Dom Dwyer and midfielder Kelyn Rowe brought something special to the team, showed they belonged, and looked like they could secure a spot on the A Team.
So it was more than a little odd that both Dwyer and Rowe were jettisoned from the roster—along with Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, and Cristian Roldan—as Arena today made six changes to his team ahead of the Gold Cup knockout rounds.
Arena kept players who struggled badly or made little impact—including Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes, Justin Morrow, and Chris Pontius—but cut two Yanks who appeared to be game-changers.
If U.S. Soccer made pre-tournament arrangements with Sporting Kansas City or the New England Revolution to release the pair after the group stage, no mention was made of it in the official press release.
"We have added some experienced players to the roster that can help us in the knockout round of the Gold Cup," Arena said. "The players leaving all made a good impression, and I'm optimistic for their future with the national team program."
If Dwyer and Rowe have a future with the national team program, however, wouldn't it make sense to see how they integrate with the established veterans before World Cup qualifying resumes on September 1? Wouldn't it be useful to see if the U.S. attack prospered with Darlington Nagbe on the left wing and Rowe on the right? Wouldn't it be helpful to see if Jozy Altidore could forge a partnership with Dwyer?
That opportunity is now gone. If Arena does view Dwyer and Rowe as legitimate candidates for the full U.S. side, the knockout rounds will be a wasted opportunity.
The six replacements are Tim Howard, Jesse Gonzalez, Michael Bradley, Nagbe, Altidore, and Clint Dempsey. Here is the revised roster.
Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas) Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
The U.S. must wait for the results of Sunday's Group C matches in order to learn its opponent for Wednesday's quarterfinal in Philadelphia.
What do you think of Arena's decision to cut Rowe and Dwyer? Will the veterans he called in help right the ship? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.