Jozy Altidore

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USMNT’s initial 2019 Gold Cup roster includes surprises

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The USMNT’s preliminary 40-man squad for the 2019 Gold Cup this summer has been revealed.

And there are a few surprises.

First up, it is likely you will all be asking where John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are. Well, both are injured and are not included in the squad which was confirmed by CONCACAF on Monday.

In a release the governing body says that the final 23-man squads will be released in early June and after that “only injury-related changes will be allowed, up until 24 hours before each team’s first match” as any replacements “must come from the preliminary 40-player roster.”

That means Yedlin and Brooks are out no matter what, and that leave Gregg Berhalter with some big issues to solve defensively.

Some of the intriguing additions to Berhalter’s squad are dual nationals Marlon Fossey and Duane Holmes, while Andrew Gutman, Joe Gyau and Jonathan Amon are also included.

Young stars Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie join veteran defenders Tim Ream and Omar Gonzalez. Usual suspects Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Brad Guzan are in the squad.

Below is the 40-man roster in full for the USMNT, as they are second favorites to win the tournament behind reigning champs Mexico.


Jozy Altidore sidelined with hamstring injury

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Jozy Altidore‘s hamstring has seemingly failed to cooperate at the worst possible times.

The Toronto FC and USMNT striker has gone down yet again with an injury to his troublesome hamstring and will remain out for 2-3 weeks according to a report by the Associated Press. He was injured in the late stages of a wild 4-3 comeback win over Minnesota United over the weekend.

The injury is troublesome, because it comes less than two months before the United States is set to compete in the 2019 Gold Cup. While he should return in time to be an option for the United States according to the announced timetable, it brings back bad memories for national team fans who recall Altidore pulling up lame in the match against Ghana to open the 2014 World Cup, unable to play the rest of the tournament, an injury which left the United States massively undermanned the rest of the way.

Altidore has had plenty of ill-timed trouble with his hamstring over the years, most notably in 2016 which forced him out of the Copa America, a tournament which saw the United States host and finish fourth, unable to score against either Argentina or Colombia. He also had foot surgery last year around this time, forcing him out for over three months despite the initial 4-6 week timeframe announced.

The injury troubles are clearly frustrating for Altidore, given his outburst after the win over Minnesota last time out, where he criticized the club for parting ways with Italian trainer Giuseppe Gueli – who was let go when Sebastian Giovinco was sold – and also hit out at club president Bill Manning for his lack of availability and failure to communicate with the squad. He apologized for the outburst, saying the two met and cleared the air.

“I let my emotions get the best of me when speaking to the media after our wild comeback win against Minnesota,” Altidore wrote on Twitter the following day. “Bill and I connected this morning and I can confidently say we’re on the same page. I know Bill and Toronto FC are committed to pulling out all the stops and dedicated to putting the team in prime position to have a successful season. We move forward together.” Manning also met with the media to downplay the incident, saying that he was planning on bringing back Gueli in a part-time role.

Altidore has not played for the national team since the fateful night in Trinidad & Tobago which saw the United States fail to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. During that time, USMNT interim boss Dave Sarachan and new full-time head coach Gregg Berhalter has used the friendlies to explore the talent pool and find options outside of the regular starters. Still, Altidore is widely believed to top the USMNT striker depth chart, and any injury that leaves his status in doubt would give Berhalter a selection headache in his first competitive event in charge.

Jozy Altidore calls out Toronto FC president Bill Manning in scathing postgame comments

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It was supposed to be a happy postgame. Toronto FC topped Minnesota United 4-3 in a wild game that saw Jozy Altidore assist the game-winning goal scored 79th minute, pushing them within a point of the Eastern Conference lead with a game in hand.

For Altidore, though, it was the perfect opportunity to air some dirty laundry.

The United States international sought out reporters in the mixed zone after the game and told the public how unhappy he was at certain decisions made at the club this offseason, particularly regarding the training staff. Altidore singled out team president Bill Manning and criticized the club executive for firing someone he believed was helping the striker off the field.

[ MORE: Toronto FC tops Minnesota United 4-3 ]

“It’s bittersweet because this could’ve been avoided,” Altidore said of the firing of Italian trainer Giuseppe Gueli who was let go after the sale of Sebastian Giovinco this offseason. “You’ll have to ask Bill Manning why it’s not avoided, it’s just disappointing. We had a trainer here the last three years who’s been helping me with muscle injuries, but because he was attached to Seba, he’s not allowed in the club, which I think is ridiculous. And so now this is what I’m faced with, games of egos, and that thing. Hopefully he can put his ego aside and I can get the guy who’s kept me healthy, kept Michael [Bradley] healthy, kept a bunch of the guys healthy, and we can make things move forward.”

“To run a club you’ve got to be able to put your ego aside and put the players first, so hopefully that’ll change,” Altidore said. “I was trying to get through it, I was having trouble all week, but again, like I said, the person I was working with the past three and a half, four years, is not allowed in the building, and it’s just— you give everything for your city, you give everything on the field, you give everything for your teammates, and because of a little whatever, misunderstanding with a guy, the players gotta pay the price. I just think that’s ridiculous.”

Altidore then went after Manning for his lack of accessibility for the players, as Altidore insinuated he made attempts to handle the issue internally but was unable to do so. “You can ask him,” Altidore said when asked if he received an explanation from Manning on the personnel decision. “He’s not here, he’s not around, so you can’t find him. You go to his office, he’s not there, he’s traveling, he’s this and that. I wish I knew, but I don’t know.”

As far as the public has been aware, Altidore and Manning have had a decent working relationship. Local media reported that a sit-down between the two in February helped push through a new contract for Altidore after talks had hit the skids. “I saw the hunger in his eyes and how much he loved it here,” Manning said of Altidore once the contract extension was announced. “And he was willing to work with us. And once we kind of talked that through, we were able to create a contract that made sense for us and made sense for him.”

After Altidore brought Michael Bradley into the mix by mentioning the Toronto FC captain by name, Bradley was asked about the situation, and he confirmed there were internal issues that needed to be taken care of but downplayed the severity of the issue. “There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of trying to make sure that we can have the right medical staff in place,” Bradley said, “and obviously Greg [Vanney], Jim Liston, Ali [Curtis], Bill [Manning], they’re all working hard to try to make sure that as players we have everything we need. Jozy is a guy who feels like at this point in his career he knows exactly what he needs to do day in and day out to keep himself healthy and fit and ready to play at the highest level. I’m hopeful there’s a solution here because I think a lot of us certainly feel strongly, again making sure that the staff behind the scenes is in place and is right.”

Obviously, this seems like – at its base level – a minor problem not to be aired in public, but Altidore is someone who has suffered from numerous muscle problems in the past, and if he is nervous about not receiving the proper medical attention off the field, it could be affecting his mindset or performance. Players who are tentative on the field because of past medical issues can either lose form or actually exacerbate the issue further, so it would be in Toronto’s best interest to cater to Altidore’s requests. At the very least, if a veteran leader is frustrated by a lack of communication from the front office, that in and of itself is a concern the club will want to address as soon as possible.

Toronto FC pulls within a point of East lead with win over Minnesota

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Toronto FC snatched all three points in a wild finish at BMO Field, taking the spoils 4-3 over Minnesota United thanks to a pair of goals each from Alejandro Pozuelo and Jordan Hamilton.

Minnesota struck first through Darwin Quintero in the 17th minute, but Toronto swung back in front on a quickfire double from Pozuelo, striking twice in two minutes right on the half-hour mark. His first was a beauty, carrying the ball all the way down the attacking half himself before a couple stepovers preempted a rifle into the top corner.

Two minutes later he found space in the box, and taking a feed from Justin Morrow, he powered the ball home above Vito Mannone. With that, Toronto went into the halftime break with the lead, and Pozuelo grabbed a club record for fastest brace with just 110 seconds between goals.

Out of the break, it was Minnesota’s turn to swing back into the lead as Angelo Rodriguez bagged a header to the far post as two Toronto defenders misjudged a cross from Romain Metanire. Quintero then hit for the second time in the 70th minute, this time from the spot after Chris Mavinga fouled Rodriguez in the area.

With wild status officially achieved and Minnesota ahead, Toronto snagged control of the match in front of the home fans. Hamilton, who came on in the 73rd minute, had an instant impact, scoring the equalizer just four minutes after entering play. Jonathan Osorio fed him a perfect through-ball between defenders, and Hamilton finished expertly with a chip over a charging Mannone. Hamilton gave Toronto the lead in the 79th minute, although this time the Minnesota defense will want to burn the tape. Jozy Altidore popped the ball over a defender right in front of the goal mouth, and while Michael Boxall had position to clear the ball off the line, Hamilton jumped it and tipped it into the back of the net.

After that, Minnesota melted down. Jan Gregus was shown a straight red card in the 89th minute, and Minnesota was reduced to nine men minutes later after Francisco Calvo earned his second yellow card. The win sent Toronto to second in the Eastern Conference on 13 points, one behind D.C. United for the lead with a game in hand.

MLS preview: Minnesota United opens brand-new Allianz Field

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Here’s everything you need to know ahead of a busy and exciting week seven of MLS action, starting on Friday night.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Minnesota United v. New York City FC — Saturday, 5 p.m. ET

Minnesota United finally has a sparkling soccer-specific stadium to call home. The Loons will take the pitch at Allianz Field for the first time this season, opening the stadium with a favorable matchup. This time last season, we wouldn’t have said that about New York City FC, but the club continues to struggle under manager Dome Torrent, leading to fan apathy and disappointment.

Minnesota, which picked up a huge road win at the New York Red Bulls last week, is itching to start their life at Allianz Field with a victory, while NYCFC has yet to record a win this season. NYCFC will need to find an answer for Abu Danladi, the speedy forward who torched the Red Bulls a week ago.

Seattle Sounders v. Toronto FC — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Although the two clubs are in different conferences, there’s plenty of bitter history between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC, dating back to their MLS Cup final meetings in 2016 and 2017. Both teams have started the season hot, a rarity for the Sounders while a return to success for TFC after a dreadful 2018.

Jordan Morris leads the Sounders with three goals in his return from a torn ACL, partnering well early on with Raul Ruidiaz. Meanwhile Alejandro Pozuelo has been a sensation since his arrival in MLS, having scored two goals already. He also set up Jozy Altidore last week in Toronto’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire with a dime to the back post.

Ultimately, it will be up to the likes of Christian Roldan and Seattle’s central midfield to keep Pozuelo under wraps.

Los Angeles FC v. FC Cincinnati — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

Coming off a 4-0 thrashing at D.C. United, Los Angeles FC is the hottest team in MLS right now. LAFC is still unbeaten, with five wins and a draw, and Carlos Vela is playing some of the best soccer in his career, showing he’s still good enough to be playing in Europe’s top leagues. Vela is the early contender for the Landon Donovan MVP trophy, with seven goals and four assists through his team’s first six games.

Like LAFC a year ago, FC Cincinnati is off to a strong start as well, with a couple of wins and a pair of draws in the early part of the season. It will be a tough test for FC Cincy at an in-form LAFC side but FC Cincy has pulled off impressive draws with both Atlanta United and Sporting KC.

Full MLS schedule

Friday

Chicago Fire v. Vancouver Whitecaps — 8:30 p.m. ET

Saturday

Montreal Impact v. Columbus Crew — 1 p.m. ET
Houston Dynamo v. San Jose Earthquakes — 3 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Toronto FC — 4 p.m. ET
Minnesota United v. New York City FC — 5 p.m. ET
New England Revolution v. Atlanta United — 7:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas v. Portland Timbers — 8 p.m. ET
Colorado Rapids v. D.C. United — 9 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake v. Orlando City — 9 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy v. Philadelphia Union — 10:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles FC v. FC Cincinnati — 10:30 p.m. ET

Sunday

Sporting Kansas City v. New York Red Bulls — 7 p.m. ET