Gold Cup dominated by MLS players
The upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup will have a decidedly MLS feel. Such is the case when the tournament falls in a year with World Cup qualifying the priority for many of the teams in the region and some of the bigger names make way for younger players looking for an opportunity on the international stage.
Forty-eight MLS players were on the final 23-man rosters announced Thursday for the tournament that begins next week. The United States leads the way with 16 from MLS. That includes the likes of Seattle's Cristian Roldan, Sporting Kansas City's Dom Dwyer and New England's Kelyn Rowe, all of whom could make their national team debuts during the tournament.
The decision to go with a heavy MLS-based roster was by design for U.S. coach Bruce Arena.
The US. opens the group stage of the Gold Cup against Panama on July 8 in Nashville.
"We have a large number of domestic players because our European-based players need a break. They had long seasons plus the June World Cup qualifiers, so they needed a break and then they need to start their preseasons in July."
Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was on the preliminary 40-man roster for the U.S. and his request for change in association was approved by FIFA on Thursday. Gonzalez had represented Mexico at the U-20 level.
Canada's roster includes nine MLS players, headlined by 16-year-old Vancouver product Alphonso Davies, who could become the youngest Canadian to play in a Gold Cup match. Jamaica features seven MLS players and Costa Rica has six.