Final 23-man rosters were announced for all 12 teams participating in this summer’s Gold Cup tournament. A total of 45 MLS players were chosen by their respective countries, including 12 for the United States and 10 for Canada. US players will report to Nashville, TN on June 29 with games scheduled to begin on July 7; the Gold Cup final will be held in Philadelphia on July 26.
Impact for the LA Galaxy
For a team seeking to establish a consistent lineup, the Gold Cup comes at an unfortunate time. LA was just able to field their preferred lineup for basically the first time this season during the June 20th game against the Philadelphia Union. Defender Omar Gonzalez and forward Gyasi Zardes along with goalkeeper Jaime Penedo — who was selected by Panama to be a part of their Gold Cup roster — are all key members of the first team. All three will miss at least two games in July and could miss the whole month if they reach the championship match at the end of the month.
Zardes, seeking to regain his form from last year, scored a goal and had two assists in the game against Philadelphia. Much of his struggle this season can be attributed to the absence of Robbie Keane. With the captain now back from injury this will force someone like Alan Gordon (who could be called to the national team after group stage) or Jose Villarreal to step into Zardes’ shoes.
The loss of Gonzalez is no doubt significant considering many pundits mark him as one of the top defenders in MLS, but the Galaxy have depth in that position. AJ Delagarza appears to be back from injury and Leonardo has played well so far this season, despite not being included in 18-man roster vs The Union (injury). Tommy Meyer has had one poor game but he, too, is an experienced player who can fill in the gap in the back line.
Penedo has been arguably one of the best net-minders in MLS this season. Fortunately, Brian Rowe has been more than adequate as a back up and should serve the team well in Penedo’s absence. It is also possible that recently signed SuperDraft selection Andrew Wolverton could make his first appearance in net. It will be interesting to see what the 6’7″ youngster brings to the team.
No matter who was or was not going to be selected for the Gold Cup the LA Galaxy are about to enter another time of change with the arrival of former Liverpool star Steven Gerrard. While it would have been nice to begin developing his on-field chemistry with Zardes as soon as possible, he will at least be able to work with Keane when he arrives in early July.
With Tim Howard still on sabbatical, coach Jurgen Klinsmann has selected Nick Rimando and Brad Guzan as his primary goalkeepers. Both players have plenty of international experience and should provide solid leadership from the net although Guzan has just recently returned to national duty following the birth of his son.
Sporting KC’s Matt Besler is a notable absence from the squad. John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, Brad Evans, the LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez, and Fabian Johnson are veterans though and should provide a solid back line.
While there were rumors that they would not be selected as recently as the announcement of the 35 player Gold Cup roster, Real Salt Lake’s Klye Beckerman and KC’s Graham Zusi are on the squad. They join fellow veterans Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, and Mix Diskerud. Former Seattle Sounder DeAndre Yedlin is listed as a midfielder and the Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes continues his rise in the national spotlight. This group will need to execute crisp and accurate passing in order to create the offensive chances the team will need to go past group stage and deep into the tournament.
Klinsmann has selected the veteran duo of Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey to spearhead the attack. They are joined by Aron Johannsson and San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski. If the team is successful in the group stage of their defense of the Gold Cup, Wondolowski is sure to get a chance to atone for his miss during last year’s World Cup.