Three Sporting Kansas City players were named to the U.S. Men’s National Team roster on Sunday for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scheduled for July 7-26 in 14 cities across the United States.
Defenders Graham Zusi and Matt Besler boast previous CONCACAF Gold Cup experience as seasoned veterans on head coach Bruce Arena’s 23-man squad, while forward Dom Dwyer — who gained U.S. MNT eligibility when he became an American citizen March — is poised to represent the United States for the first time at the international stage.
“It’s an incredible honor to represent the United States for the first time, and I want to thank everyone who has helped me make this goal a reality,” Dwyer said. “Playing with a talented group of players is a fantastic opportunity, and I am excited to compete in front of our home fans and help our team win.”
"It's always an honor to play for the national team, especially in a major tournament like the Gold Cup," Zusi said. "We're very excited to contend for another trophy and continue our recent run of good form."
"The Gold Cup is an extremely important competition for everyone involved, and we hope to replicate the success of 2013 by winning the championship," Besler said. "With World Cup qualifiers continuing in the fall, we want to keep moving forward as a team and perform at a high level."
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the biennial international championship contested among nations from the North, Central American and Caribbean region. The 2017 edition separates 12 teams into three groups of four, with the top two finishers from each group and the two best third-placed teams qualifying for the quarterfinals. The Gold Cup final will take place on Wednesday, July 26 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The Americans were drawn into Group B and will face Panama (July 8), Martinique (July 12) and Nicaragua (July 15) over an eight-day period. Prior to kicking off the tournament, the U.S. will host Ghana in a tune-up friendly this Saturday inside Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. Kickoff is slated for 3:45 p.m. CT on ESPN, leading into Sporting Kansas City’s nationally televised home match against the Portland Timbers at 6 p.m. CT on the same channel.
The U.S. MNT is a five-time Gold Cup champion, most recently hoisting the trophy in 2013. Archrivals USA and Mexico have combined to win each of the last eight Gold Cups dating back to 2002, with both sides claiming four championships since the turn of the century.
U.S. MNT 2017 CONCACAF GOLD CUP GROUP STAGE SCHEDULE
|Saturday, July 8||3:30 p.m.||Panama||Nissan Stadium,
|FOX, Univision, UDN|
|Wednesday, July 12||8 p.m.||Martinique||Raymond James Stadium,
Tampa Bay, Fla.
|FS1, UniMas, UDN|
|Saturday, July 15||6 p.m.||Nicaragua||FirstEnergy Stadium,
|FOX, Univision, UDN|
A native of England, Dwyer is second in Sporting Kansas City history with 67 career goals across all competitions, including six in 2017. The 26-year-old striker joined the club in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of South Florida and has since made 156 competitive appearances under Manager Peter Vermes, notably starting in the triumphant 2013 MLS Cup and 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals.
Dwyer — the husband of U.S. Women’s National Team forward and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Sydney Leroux Dwyer — set a single- season Kansas City record with 22 MLS goals in 2014 and has become the club’s first player to score at least 12 goals in three straight regular seasons.
Besler, 30, has earned 39 caps for the U.S. MNT since debuting in 2013. In addition to featuring at the 2014 World Cup, he helped guide the Americans to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title and competed at the Copa America Centenario last summer. The Overland Park, Kansas native has amassed 257 appearances for Sporting Kansas City in all competitions — the fourth-most in club history — and has garnered MLS Best XI (2012-13), MLS All-Star (2011, 2013-16) and 2012 MLS Defender of the Year honors during his nine-year professional career.
As Sporting Kansas City’s captain, Besler has anchored a backline in 2017 that boasts an MLS-best nine shutouts and a league-low 0.67 goals against average. He has started and played every minute in 17 MLS matches for the Western Conference leaders while equaling his regular-season career-high with three assists.
Zusi, 30, has tallied five goals and six assists in 48 career appearances for the U.S. MNT, having earned his debut in 2012. After competing at the 2014 World Cup, he represented his country at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2016 Copa America Centenario, playing all five matches for the U.S. at last summer’s tournament.
Like Besler, Zusi joined Sporting Kansas City out of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. He has totaled 29 goals and 64 assists in 244 competitive appearances for the club, ranking second on the team’s all-time assist chart. He has received MLS Best XI (2012-13) and 2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year honors and was the only player to appear in every MLS All-Star Game from 2012-2015.
Zusi has enjoyed an excellent 2017 campaign, contributing to Sporting KC’s stingy defensive record while creating 24 chances from open play at the right back position — most among MLS defenders and 12th most overall.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 54/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 2/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 39/1), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 39/1), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 2/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 11/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 2/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX; 6/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 47/5)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 8/0), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 5/2), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 60/2), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX; 17/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 6/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 0/0), Kenny Saief (Gent/BEL; 0/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 31/7)
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 23/3), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/2)