U.S. coach gives Toronto FC a helping hand

TORONTO — Bruce Arena has given Toronto FC a helping hand in its Major League Soccer campaign.

The U.S. national team coach opted not to pluck captain Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore from the Toronto roster for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, at least not for the opening group stage.

The tournament allows teams to make six changes in the 24 hours after the end of the group phase ahead of the knockout round, which starts July 19.

Bradley and Altidore, who have 233 caps between them, are likely to top that replacement list. Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe and Seattle forward Clint Dempsey are also candidates for recall.

All four are on the Americans’ 40-man preliminary roster, allowing them to be added to the roster.

Teams can also make injury replacements up to 24 hours before the first match of the group phase, which is July 8 for the U.S. The Americans have won the CONCACAF championship five times.

Arena did include Justin Morrow in his 23-man roster, rewarding the TFC fullback for his fine run of play. Morrow, 29, earned his lone cap to date during a friendly against Canada in January 2013.

Morrow was an unused substitute in World Cup qualifying matches against Costa Rica and Mexico in March 2013.

With Altidore and Bradley free of Gold Cup group phase duties, they are eligible for Toronto’s Canadian Championship finale against Montreal on Tuesday as well as tough away league matches against FC Dallas on July 1 and Orlando in July 5.

Toronto does not play until July 19, at New York City FC, after that.

Arena opted for some new faces with Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer and midfielders Kenny Saief of Gent, Cristian Roldan of Seattle and Kelyn Rowe of New England in a position to make their U.S. debut.

Saief played for Israel’s under-19 and under-21 teams but his approval to switch international allegiance to the U.S. was approved by FIFA in the past week. English-born Dwyer became a U.S. citizen in March.

Sixteen players come from Major League Soccer and four from Mexican clubs: defenders Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca) and Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), and midfielders of Paul Arriola and Joe Corona of Tijuana.

“It’s a good roster with a nice blend of experienced, veteran players and a good group of newcomers as well,” Arena said in a statement. “There’s good balance at every position. We can play a number of ways, and I think all these players have a desire to play for the U.S. and will be working hard. It will be a competitive camp. They are going to be highly motivated, very coachable and they have an opportunity to make a statement.”

The U.S. opens camp Monday in Nashville, ahead of a friendly Saturday against Ghana at East Hartford, Conn.. The Americans open the Gold Cup on July 8 at Nashville against Panama before facing Martinique on July 12 in Tampa and Nicaragua on July 15 in Cleveland.

U.S. Roster

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC)

Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, England), Matt Miazga (Chelsea, England), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC) FC, Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna, Mexico), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Tijuana, Mexico), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia), Joe Corona (Tijuana, Mexico), Dax McCarty (Chicago), Cristian Roldan (Seattle), Kelyn Rowe (New England), Kenny Saief (Gent, Belgium), Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City), Jordan Morris (Seattle)

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