It’s good news all round for Toronto FC’s USA internationals.
Justin Morrow has been rewarded for his consistently excellent form in a TFC jersey with a place in the Americans’ 23-man squad for the Gold Cup, but Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are missing from the initial list.
Instead, Toronto will keep the two designated players for the duration of the group stage before they are called up for the knockout rounds. Gold Cup rules allow Bruce Arena to make up to six ‘swaps’ once his team’s Group B fixtures are wrapped up.
Arena can afford to leave two of his established stars at home given the USA could finish third in a group containing Panama, Martinique and Nicaragua and still have a chance of progressing to the knockouts.
As expected, Armando Cooper has been included in Panama’s 23-man squad.
The U.S. Soccer website states that American players will “begin reporting” to training camp in Nashville today, June 25, meaning it is unlikely Toronto will be able to hold Morrow back for Tuesday night’s Canadian Championship final second leg against the Montreal Impact.
13 - Justin Morrow has 13 goals+assists in the regular season since 2016. Only two other defenders have more more than nine. Offensive. pic.twitter.com/M03PQTLD2p— OptaJack (@OptaJack) June 25, 2017
The quarter-finals of the Gold Cup start on July 19 and the final is on July 26. Toronto play New York City on July 19, the Colorado Rapids three days later and then New York City again on July 30.
Morrow is unlikely to be withdrawn from the squad after the group stage for another left-back as the USA’s first choice in the position, Jorge Villafana of Santos Laguna, is on the initial roster. He could be replaced by a player who occupies a different position, however, if it is judged that Eric Lichaj and Matt Besler offer enough cover on the left side of defence.