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  • This is the final training camp before Gregg Berhalter finalizes his Gold Cup roster, which will be revealed after Wednesday's friendly vs. Jamaica.
By Avi Creditor
June 01, 2019

The U.S. men's national team spent the last week gathered in Annapolis, Md., in a combined training camp made up of Gold Cup hopefuls and U-23-eligible players, allowing senior team coach Gregg Berhalter and U-23 coach Jason Kreis to further set the foundation for the future of the program. Now, camp has been refined and augmented with more Gold Cup hopefuls, with an eye on building toward the Concacaf championship.

MLS and Europe-based stars–but not necessarily all who will make the final squad–will head to Annapolis this coming week as camp's focus turns solely to the Gold Cup and the friendlies that precede it. Berhalter has called on a 29-man group of players (28 of whom originally appeared on the USA's 40-man provisional Gold Cup roster), with an eye on paring it down to 23 for the competition. Not included initially are Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic, who are still expected to arrive later into camp and participate in the Gold Cup but won't feature immediately. That means as many as seven players in camp this week won't go to the Gold Cup.

The USA will play Jamaica in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in a friendly, after which Berhalter will make his final cut. The national team then heads to Cincinnati for a June 9 friendly vs. Venezuela that serves as a final tune-up before Gold Cup group play against Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Panama.

“After a great week of training, we now enter the phase of playing competitive matches,” Berhalter said in a statement. “The game against Jamaica will represent an opportunity for us to evaluate new prospects as well continue to develop the group for the Gold Cup. We are excited about the group coming in and the opportunity ahead of us this summer.”

Here's who has made the penultimate cut for the Gold Cup and will be looking to cement places on the final roster:

GOALKEEPERS

Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)

This is a completely new group compared to what had been in camp the last week, with U-23 goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, Andrew Thomas and Justin Vom Steeg making way for the first-teamers. Steffen, who just returned last weekend for Columbus from a two-match absence, leads the way and will enter as Berhalter's No. 1 option. Ethan Horvath would have figured to be the top backup, but he was unavailable for selection with a finger injury. That honor goes to Johnson. That the 34-year-old Brad Guzan was left behind in favor of the uncapped Miller does not bode well for the Atlanta United veteran's future with the national team.

DEFENDERS

Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham), Omar Gonzalez (Club Atlas), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Everton), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

With John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin out injured, two Gold Cup roster spots that didn't figure to be up for grabs most certainly are. That's music to the ears of Lima, the January standout who returns to camp as the top right back option with Yedlin out and Adams not yet in the fold. The center back competition will be fierce, though Long and Miazga should enter with a slight leg up on the competition. Left back is wide open, and this is the speedy Robinson's chance to prove he belongs going forward. Fulham's Marlon Fossey and Charlotte Independence's Andrew Gutman have departed camp, after taking part last week.

MIDFIELDERS

Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew); Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Pulisic's absence at the start of camp opens space in the middle for Lletget (whose injury Sunday night suddenly puts his place in doubt), Roldan and Mihailovic, with McKennie otherwise the leader for one of Berhalter's tandem No. 10 roles. Bradley and Trapp, as they have been since January, will duke it out for holding midfield duties, while Holmes, whose club finished agonizingly short of Premier League promotion before he arrived in camp, enjoys his first call-up and will look to make an impact on the wing. He could theoretically challenge for a central role as well.

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Yueill, who has impressed recently with the Earthquakes, was not on the provisional Gold Cup squad submitted to FIFA and is therefore not eligible to play in the competition. It's a nice opportunity to try out in front of Berhalter, though, and perhaps leave an impression that favors him in the future.

FORWARDS

Jonathan Amon (Nordsjælland), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Vitoria Guimares), Joe Gyau (Duisburg), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

This is an intriguing and eclectic group of frontmen. Altidore returns for the first time since the October 2017 World Cup qualifier in Trinidad & Tobago that sealed the USA's failure. He's fit, in form for Toronto FC and arguably remains the USA's top forward. Boyd, who recently filed for a FIFA switch from New Zealand, makes his first camp appearance and will look to secure a spot on the wing against the more established likes of Arriola and Morris. 

Gyau, meanwhile, last appeared in a game for the USA in Landon Donovan's send-off match in 2014 and has battled injuries and climbed the ladder ever since, while Zardes is a Berhalter favorite and a candidate to continue to start. 

Then there's Sargent, the 19-year-old who had ups and downs with his first exposure to the Bundesliga but was chosen to be with this group as opposed to the U-20s currently competing at the World Cup. There are big expectations for the St. Louis-area rising star in both the present and the future. Sargent, Gyau and Amon have all already been in camp for the last week, while Lewis, a late addition to the roster made on Sunday, has proven to be a valuable spark off the bench in his brief tenure as a national team player.

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