The U.S. national team have called up the big guns for the knockout stages of the 2017 Gold Cup. And they will play.
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Bruce Arena is expected to roll them out on Wednesday against El Salvador as the USMNT go all-out to win the Gold Cup and build some positive momentum ahead of the crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers in September. Based on their group-stage performances El Salvador will put up a strong fight, but this turbo-charged U.S. side will look to have the game done and dusted by half time and rest up ahead of the semifinal.
With captain Michael Bradley, veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard, playmaker Clint Dempsey and main striker Jozy Altidore all added to the roster, Arena will have a new spine to his team, while Darlington Nagbe will also play a key role.
In previous Gold Cups the main aim in adding these star names for the knockout rounds is key: bring them in fresh and have them play the final three games to lead the U.S. to glory. That didn’t work in 2015, at all, but it did in 2013, the last time the USMNT won the Gold Cup.
Many are annoyed that Dom Dwyer wasn’t kept around after providing a cutting edge, while Kelyn Rowe also impressed but both have returned to their respective MLS clubs in a deal which may have already been discussed before the Gold Cup given that other key members of Sporting Kansas City (Matt Besler, Graham Zusi) and the New England Revolution (Juan Agudelo) have remained with the U.S. ahead of MLS’ return this Wednesday.
Here’s a look at how Arena should line up the USMNT in Philadelphia for the last eight clash as they will face the winner of Panama vs. Costa Rica at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday.
How USMNT could line up vs. El Salvador
—– Howard —–
— Lichaj — Gonzalez — Besler — Villafana —
—– Acosta —– Bradley —– Nagbe ——
—– Dempsey —–
— Altidore — Morris —