Dempsey, Howard and Bradley among six United States changes for Gold Cup knockouts

Bob Levey
A handful of national team veterans have bolstered the 23-man squad ahead of their quarterfinal

Bruce Arena calling in veteran reinforcements for the knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Gold Cup wasn't much of a surprise by the time changes were announced on Sunday , but the list of players being sent home definitely had some surprises.

Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, Darlington Nagbe and Jesse Gonzalez were called in as U.S. Gold Cup replacements for the knockout rounds. They will replace Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe and Dom Dwyer.

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"We have added some experienced players to the roster that can help us in the Knockout Round of the Gold Cup," Arena said. "The players leaving all made a good impression, and I'm optimistic for their future with the National Team program."

Among the arrivals are Dempsey, who will continue his quest to break Landon Donovan's record for career U.S. national team goals, as well as Gonzalez, who will join the U.S. team for the first time since filing a one-time change of association with FIFA after having previously represented Mexico on the youth level.

Dom Dwyer Bruce Arena USA Gold Cup

According to U.S. Soccer, the decisions on Guzan, Johnson and Bedoya were planned prior to the tournament, while Dwyer was sent back to Sporting KC to make way for Altidore and Dempsey at forward. Though it wasn't mentioned in the release by U.S. Soccer, the fact Sporting KC already had Matt Besler and Graham Zusi on the U.S. suqad could have factored into Arena's decision, since Dwyer was going to essentially be a backup for the knockout rounds.

Roldan made his national team debut in the U.S. 3-2 win against Martinique, but was ultimately edged out by the arrival of Bradley, with Arena choosing to keep the more experienced Dax McCarty despite him struggling in the group stage.

Rowe's departure is probably the most surprising one considering how well he did in the group stage, but Nagbe's arrival and Jordan Morris' presence as another left-wing option led Arena to send Rowe back to the New England Revolution.

The U.S. returns to action on Wednesday in the Gold Cup quarterfinals against an opponent that will be determined by Sundays' final Gold Cup group stage matches. The Americans will face either Honduras, El Salvador or Jamaica.

Squad in full:

Goalkeepers : Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)

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Defenders : Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City, Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders : Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

Forwards : Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)