CARSON, CA – Gyasi Zardes has been named to the final 23-man roster for this summer’s Copa America Centenario. This will be Zardes’s second major tournament with the US Men’s National Team, having participated in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2015.
In 2015, after making his first cap in January against Chile, the LA Galaxy forward tied the USMNT record for number of appearances in his debut year with 19, a record he shares with US legend Claudio Reyna. Zardes scored 3 International Goals during that period.
He has been listed in the nebulous ‘Midfielders/Forwards’ pool for the coming tournament by US Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, muddying the crystal ball of anyone trying to predict where Zardes will actually end up playing. Zardes has been used as both a striker and a winger by Klinsmann with varying degrees of success, depending on the level of opposition the USMNT has faced.
With Clint Dempsey and an in-form Bobby Wood likely in line ahead of him for the forward spots, Zardes probably will line up on the right wing for the US. Anyone that has watched Zardes play with LA knows that this is not his best position, but he has shown some growth when LA Coach Bruce Arena has pushed him to the outside to accommodate an additional target forward like Alan Gordon. His speed, athleticism, and ability to shield the ball have certainly been assets on the wings, but he is most effective up front and partnered with a creative forward like Robbie Keane. However, trying to read the mind of Jurgen Klinsmann is nearly impossible and we won’t know where he will position Zardes until we see him on the field against Colombia on June 3rd.
Gyasi Zardes will join the USMNT in training camp as early as May 23rd. The US will face Ecuador and Bolivia in friendlies on May 25th and 28th, respectively, in preparation for that first match against Colombia. Group Play for the Centenario will continue with a game against Costa Rica on June 7th and another on June 11th against Paraguay. Depending on the USMNT’s performance, they could remain active in the tournament until the Final on June 26th.
Zardes will certainly miss the Galaxy’s away game at Montreal on May 29th and their home game against Kansas City on June 2nd. MLS is taking a break for the International Window until mid-June, so it is feasible that he will be back in time for the June 18th game at Toronto, but Galaxy fans should be prepared for the possibility that Zardes will be out for the final two games in June – home to Colorado on the 22nd and away to San Jose on the 25th.