One of the oddities of the CONCACAF Gold Cup is the ability to make roster changes between the group stage and the knockout stage. All along, U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said that he’s serious about wanting to win the 2013 Gold Cup, and after the four changes he’s made, it’s easy to believe him.
The biggest changes were made defensively, as the original roster had some concerns along the back four.
Removed were Corey Ashe, who didn’t make an appearance in the first three games, and veteran Oguchi Onyewu, a veteran who had a lot to prove heading into the tournament but only appeared in one game. Replacing Ashe and Onyewu are Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, the two center backs that have led the Americans to three straight wins in 2014 World Cup Qualifying.
Gonzalez and Besler could be the center back duo of the future, and right now they give the U.S. the best chance of winning, which indicates that Klinsmann truly wants to put his best lineup on the field during the knockout stage of the Gold Cup.
The other changes he made were swapping forwards Herculez Gomez and Jack McInerney for Alan Gordon and offensive-minded midfielder Eddie Johnson. McInerney hasn’t played in the Gold Cup yet and wasn’t going to, while Gomez is also on the outside of things with Chris Wondolowski and Landon Donovan solidifying themselves as the starting forwards during the tournament.
Gordon could be a potential late-game sub for the remainder of the tournament. As for Johnson, he could step into the starting lineup right away as one of the wing midfielders.
The U.S. has gotten good contributions at that position from Joe Corona, Brek Shea, Jose Torres and Alejandro Bedoya during the Gold Cup, but none of those players are as proven as Johnson at creating scoring opportunities against top international competition, which is what the U.S. can expect to face in the semi-finals and finals.
The original Gold Cup roster for the U.S. was probably capable of winning the tournament, but with the changes made, the Americans stand an even better chance of capturing their first Gold Cup title since 2007. Klinsmann has consistently said that he badly wants to win the tournament and will put a lineup on the field that can do that.
With these roster changes, it’s obvious that he means it.