Bruce Arena made his move officially on Monday morning, calling in the cavalry to help the U.S. advance through the knockout stage of the Gold Cup. There was heavy speculation on who Arena would be calling in, and it seems pretty much all of the rumors were correct. Captain Michael Bradley leads the group, with forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, midfielder Darlington Nagbe, and goalkeepers Tim Howard and Jesse Gonzalez joining him. The move pretty clearly signaled Arena’s intention to merge this group with something more closely resembling his first team in order to raise the collective level of the group for a potential championship run.
More surprising were the players let go. Forward and joint U.S. leading scorer from the group stage Dom Dwyer is gone. So is Kelyn Rowe, who had very positive performances in the group stage and was one of the USMNT’s most consistent attacking threats. Brad Guzan is gone, leaving Bill Hamid to fill the second keeper role while Jesse Gonzalez replaces Sean Johnson for third keeper. Finally, Cristian Roldan heads back to Seattle, and Alejandro Bedoya was released as well, with Arena citing the impending birth of his second child.
Some particularly big contributions came from this group in the previous three games, and most fans will be surprised to see Dwyer and Rowe leave the group while other players they fairly clearly outperformed stay for the remainder of the tournament. It seems that while Arena is confident the inclusion of his more senior players will be able to boost the level of this version of the USMNT, there are still questions to be answered about other players in this group.