U.S. Men's National Team

A look back at the Gold Cup performances for six departing USMNT players

Photo by David Richard/USA Today Sports

Six new faces have been brought into the U.S. Men’s National Team to begin the push through the Gold Cup knockout stages. With their selections, though, the tournament has officially ended for six members of the USMNT’s group stage team.

Alejandro Bedoya, Brad Guzan, Dom Dwyer, Kelyn Rowe, Cristian Roldan and Sean Johnson have officially left the USMNT squad, ending their Gold Cup run. In their stead, Bruce Arena has called in a slew of veteran options as the U.S. looks to make a push for the tournament title.

The six players that depart the USMNT had plenty of time to make their mark, though, and several stood out far more than the others. Their tournament may be over, but the recent four-game stretch could go a long way towards impacting the future of several players both old and new.

Here’s a look at how the six departing players performed throughout their recent run:


It was easy to see a scenario while Alejandro Bedoya was beginning to slide down the depth chart. The rise of Kellyn Acosta added another contender to the midfield pool. Christian Pulisic and Fabian Johnson have the wing spots occupied with players like Paul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes remained firmly in the mix. Players were stepping up and, after some up-and-down efforts with the Union, Bedoya was in need of a big performance.

He provided just that, stepping up as arguably the best veteran presence throughout the last two matches. Against Panama, Bedoya wasn’t at his best but his substitute appearance against Martinique glavanized the USMNT in a game that wasn’t as straight-forward as it should have been. Against Nicaragua, Bedoya provided a pair of assists while drawing a penalty in a match that saw him assert himself as the most dominant playmaking presence.

Bedoya remains in a battle for spots, especially with younger options coming up through the pool. However, while Bedoya’s ceiling may not be as high, his floor isn’t as low as his veteran presence and USMNT consistency make him a player that will remain in the mix up to Russia.


Entering the Gold Cup, Dom Dwyer was probably the most talked about inclusion on the USMNT roster and, by and large, he lived up to the hype.

Including the Ghana match, Dwyer scored twice in his first three USMNT appearances, an impressive haul no matter what you expected of him or how you viewed his efforts. He showed off his typical work-rate and some impressive finishing as, against the group stage competition, Dwyer showed he could translate his game fairly well to the international level. There were some down moments, like a penalty kick miss, but Dywer generally showed pretty well for himself throughout his first international matches.

Where that leaves him remains to be seen. Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood almost certainly headline the senior forward options while Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes and Juan Agudelo are also certainly in the mix. It may be too late for Dwyer to truly push into that upper echelon for next summer’s World Cup, but he certainly didn’t hurt his case with his Gold Cup efforts.


Much like most of the last year or two, Brad Guzan’s Gold Cup was a mixed bag.

Against Panama, he was fantastic. Faced with shot after shot, Guzan made some spectacular stops and, even on the game’s lone goal, he certainly wasn’t at fault. It was one of Guzan’s better performances in quite awhile, and it helped the USMNT earn a vital point to start the tournament.

His performance against Martinique, though, left plenty to be desired. Guzan will no doubt be disappointed with his efforts on Kevin Parsemain’s long-range strike, one that looked like a fairly straight-forward diving save before trickling into the back of the net.

With less than a year before the World Cup, Guzan is still very much in a battle with Tim Howard for the USMNT No. 1 spot. Thus far, the two have largely split time but, eventually, Bruce Arena will need to make a decision. Guzan’s play with Atlanta United will be key in that decision but, with so few USMNT appearances left before a World Cup, Guzan still has a lot to prove if he wants to be the unquestioned starter next summer.


Of the 23 players on the USMNT roster, Johnson was the only one not to earn a start throughout the three-game Gold Cup run. Obviously, that makes assessing him pretty difficult.

With Jesse Gonzalez cleared and Tim Howard coming in to replace Guzan, Bill Hamid is the lone holdover at the goalkeeper position. It’s an obvious sign that Johnson is fairly far down the goalkeeper depth chart, but it will be interesting to see how he fares with NYCFC throughout the rest of the MLS season.


The Gold Cup group stages were about the future, and Roldan was likely the best example of that. The midfield, at this point in time, simply has too many options for Roldan to be considered a serious contender to mount a push for the World Cup.

Still, Roldan did just fine in his lone USMNT appearance. Was it spectacular? No. Did he dazzle? Not really. However, he was fairly steady in what was a somewhat quiet performance. Now, quiet isn’t always bad, especially when you’re playing a bit deeper, and Roldan’s effort wasn’t a highlight or a lowlight of the Martinique match.

If he wanted to be a more serious contender, a dazzling performance was required, and even then, he almost certainly would still be on his way back to the Sounders. It was a good experience for the young midfielder and, if he can build upon it, he can certainly get back into the mix in the years to come.


Of the newcomers, Kelyn Rowe may have been the big winner.

Rowe was a standout pretty much every time he was on the field, and his Gold Cup run was stamped with a goal in the USMNT’s win over Nicaragua. Throughout his run, Rowe was regularly a dangerous option, creating from out wide while continually making his mark on the match. He showed better than many could have hoped, stepping up both individually and within the team.

When all was said and done, Rowe proved he certainly belonged on the U.S. roster. His creativity and versatility is certainly a welcome asset and he showed early just how much the opportunity truly meant to him. What comes next depends on his club efforts and just how much of Arena’s trust he has earned, but Rowe certainly feels like somewhat who boosted his stock bigger than even he could have hoped.

  • David M

    I really don’t understand the hype about Dwyer. He had a well-taken goal against Panama, but other than that he did very little.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gary Page

      In another post after another story I said that people have gotten carried away with Dwyer. He is basically a hard working poacher. However, I think that I was too negative. There are a lot of strikers who have done extremely well by being good poachers. Chicharito has scored an absurd % of his goals from within the 6 yard box and that has made him valuable and rich. Alan Shearer was a top scorer in the EPL as a poacher, to give another example. So, he has value, but we have others who provide more. I think long term Morris will be more valuable, making Dwyer no better than a 5th choice. But that assumes a healthy Dempsey and Altidore. He’s no savior, but he can provide good backup in the right situation.


    • footydoc

      2 goals in 3 international (should have been 3 for 3) appearances is a good haul even at this “international” level.


  • I scored three goals in one game

    Got to remember the opponents and also who they were playing with as well. Guzan is only sure bet right now, dwyer still 4th on the striker depth chart if Bruce thinks he over took left foot J smooth, and Rowe showed flashes but still think he’s behind arriola(better 2 way player) and Roldan umm no thanks. Next 6 weeks should be interesting depending on what happens with some Euro players leading up to qualifiers. The lack of a attacking CM was a huge weak spot for me, I think Hyndman could play that position when CP22 is pushed out wide depending on formation but needs to get healthy and some playing time

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnnyrazor

      I think if we are playing with a CAM, its Pulisic, if he’s playing wide we are using a formation without a CAM. I think you are right, I can’t see Guzan slipping below the 3rd spot at this point. Bedoya would be the next most likely, because he can play almost anywhere in midfield, maybe even a traditional #6 at this point in his career. Rowe and Dwyer its more to do with the number of guys at their position that are ahead of them, but both should have a chance next January to shine again. Johnson I would think is pretty much done. Roldan is much more a candidate for 2022 than 2018, but now he is cap tied since he had offers from Guatemala and El Salvador.


    • Gary Page

      To amplify what johnnyrazor says, I think Pulisic is the answer and we are best served with him as a CAM instead of a winger. I think he combines the best of both Donovan and Dempsey and could become an all time great. With Pulisic, it’s only a question of where he helps the team best. He is likely to be our most important player for the next decade is how it looks. Because of his skills, he needs to see as much of the ball as possible and that means putting him the #10 position, IMO.


    • I scored three goals in one game

      I agree with both of y’all that CP is and should be the first choice I was just saying that Emo could be another option depending on the circumstances and I would love to see them together in a 4-3-2-1 similar to what BVB has used before. Also Emo needs playing time and to stay healthy but there ain’t many options behind CP at the moment .


      • Johnnyrazor

        I think we need to see Emerson after his injury and see him against better competition than the Scottish Premier League. Word is he is still not training which could determine his role with Bournemouth and the level of his loan.


      • Twomilerule

        I agree with Johnnyrazor on Emerson Hyndman health status and level of competition. A healthy season and first team minutes at Bournemouth could go a long way towards at least being called into a 40 man USMNT pre-WC roster. The same scenario of a healthy season with first team starts for Lyndon Gooch at Sunderland.

        Liked by 1 person

  • BrianK

    Agreed the Rowe gave the best account of himself and has the highest ceiling of this bunch. He has a bit of flair to his game that the USA sorely lacks, generally.

    Guzan and Johnson should move on. Johnson (IMHO) just doesn’t have it. Guzman needs to restore his confidence, which has been battered the past two years. Dwyer, as someone else noted, is a very fit poacher. Nothing wrong with that BUT what we need is Josh Wolff 2.0. A player with tremendous speed who unsettle a back line and stretch the defense. Bedoya is pedestrian. He does nothing very well. Told an is not ready for prime time.

    Question for the SBI’ers — what would be the most skillful, U-26 midfield we could roll out? Pulisic, Rowe, Hyndman, Zelalem, Lejett, Adams? I’m sure I’m missing a number of good young players. Anyway,….what if we bit the bullet and went with a core of young, technically gifted players as opposed to the work horse non-descript Mike Sorber-types? Square and back. We have regressed since 2002 when we had Reyna, Donovan, O’Brien, Beasley as 1st team selections. Even Lewis and Maestroeni would be picked ahead of what we have now. Pulisic is the clear exception. Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Twomilerule

    Odd men in and odd men out? A lot will play out over the next nine months of club and national team play. Some players may resurface like a Aron Johannsson and an off the radar young player might push his way onto the roster. I’m sure Arena has a big board with all his player options and positions. Much of his decision will be what player attributes add up to make the sum of the whole team better.
    Rowe surprised me and made the biggest team impression with his performance. He is much more clean with the ball at both feet then most in MLS. Rowe knew what he wanted to do when he had the ball and look coachable.
    Another hype train is for the young GK Gonzalez. He is still years away from international level and needs to become one of the best in MLS


  • David M

    A few people said that Dwyer is a hard-working poacher. Maybe. But that’s not what the US team needs, especially against better opposition. A poacher is very useful when your team attacks a lot with numbers and gets the ball into the box consistently. Then a poacher like Chicharito thrives. However, the US team doesn’t play that way. We don’t attack with numbers, we do not create many chances, and we don’t put the ball into the box all that much. The US team needs strikers who can create goals out of nothing, like Dempsey or Wood or Jozy (and I see Morris having that potential). I do not see Dwyer capable of doing that.


    • Cravin' Frottage

      Probably at the WC level, he is simply a hard-working, opportunistic guy to throw on if you are chasing a goal after 70 minutes. Or a stop-gap if injuries/suspensions deprive you of your first choice starters.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Lost in Space

    Of the 6 players discussed here Rowe made the biggest impact, and raised his stock the most. Dwyer was what most of us thought he would be….a decent option, providing depth to the player pool, but not going to overtake the top 3 strikers at this point.
    Roldan is another player that got his feet wet, but isn’t really going to push for inclusion in anyone’s 23 at this point. His position may be one of need, but it is also one where we likely have the most options as well.
    Guzan remains the 1B keeper option, but still scares many of us due to his Inconsistency. Even so, all other keepers not named Timmy are still far behind in the learning curve.
    Bedoya, IMO, was one of the worst players through the first 3 games. He provided little to no leadership, attack, or anything else. He redeemed himself a little in the last game, but it was against inferior opposition. If he keeps this level of play going forward I can’t see him making the final 23 next June.
    Sean Johnson at this point is done for this cycle. With Hamid, Horvath, Gonzalez, Steffen all advancing at the moment I can’t see Sean in the picture for 2018.

    As others have said in this thread, and others…This Gold Cup was mostly about evaluating the talent in MLS for the team going forward. When we add in the European players very few of these guys will be in consideration. There are bound to be some players over the next 9-10 months who: really advance their standing (Gooch), return from the fringe (ArJo), or come out of no-where (McKennie). We’re going to be in for an entertaining couple of months as the European leagues get under way.


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