With the United States rolling through all three of their group matches in the Gold Cup, some would ask, why make roster changes now?
The first is injury. The second is Jurgen Klinsmann wants to win.
US Soccer announced four roster changes to their squad heading into their quarterfinal match vs. El Salvador this Sunday in Baltimore. Two players, Herculez Gomez and Oguchi Onyewu are facing injury concerns while two players who didn't see action during the Gold Cup, Corey Ashe and Jack McInerney were also sent back to their clubs.
Coming back into the squad are first team defenders Omar Gonzalez and Matt Belser, who have started the last four World Cup qualifiers in The Hex, will return to the squad and make their Gold Cup debuts. Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon have been called in to bolster the attack.
The biggest loss on paper would be Gomez, who has been fighting for minutes at striker this summer with the resurgence of Jozy Altidore in Klinsmann's preferred 4-2-3-1 in qualifying. With Chris Wondolowski's form during the Gold Cup, Eddie Johnson gives Klinsmann more flexibility with his lineup or off the bench. Bringing in Belser and Gonzalez will be hard for Clarence Goodson, who has played will in the tournament so far, but perhaps Goodson could move out wide to the right back spot, a position that has not produced as well in the first three games. Alan Gordon is coming in for Jack McInerney, who didn't see the field at all in the group stages, but Gordon and Wondo are teammates with the San Jose Earthquakes, so that could be an interesting dynamic late in games.
Overall, these roster changes reinforce Klinsmann's desire to win the Gold Cup. Yes, it's nice to bring in players to gain some experience, but at the end of the day, winning the tournament has been something Klinsmann's been focused on despite the ongoing qualification cycle. Bringing in three first team regulars, particularly in defense going into the more difficult knockout stages, is a clear sign of the United States intentions.
They want the Cup