Change is afoot for the US national team.
Head coach Bob Bradley on Monday revealed the 23-man roster for next month’s Gold Cup, and his list is laced with young talent and a slew of relatively new faces to the US squad.
The roster includes 18 players with MLS experience and seven current league stars, including LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. The New York Red Bulls’ Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream, and the San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski, who have a combined seven caps, are set to appear in their first competitive matches for the US.
They will join Europe-based veterans like Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, and Carlos Bocanegra when the Americans open play June 7 against Canada at Ford Field in Detroit.
The biggest surprise is Bradley’s turn-back-the-clock selection of Freddy Adu, who last played for the senior team at the 2009 Gold Cup.
Adu, along with Agudelo and Wondolowski, provide a massive injection of fresh blood to the attacking crop. It’s little surprise, as the Americans went without a goal from their forwards last summer for the second straight World Cup.
Agudelo has already scored two goals in four appearances with the US national team since November, and Wondolowski's Golden Boot campaign in 2010 and red-hot start to this season were good enough for Bradley to pass on former MLSers Edson Buddle and Robbie Findley, who both appeared in the 2010 World Cup.
The centerpiece of the forward corps remains Bursaspor striker Jozy Altidore, who will actually make his Gold Cup debut after previous appearances in the World Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Beyond the attackers, the squad looks largely like it did when the team bowed out of the Round of 16 in South Africa. English Premier League veteran Tim Howard is once again the top option in net, with fellow EPL stalwart Marcus Hahnemann and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando battling for the number two spot.
The defense is stacked with World Cup vets Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu and Steve Cherundolo. Former Chivas USA stalwart Jonathan Bornstein is also back after joining Mexican side Tigres last winter.
Brondby centerback Clarence Goodson and West Ham utility man Jonathan Spector are also options defensively after serving as backups in the World Cup, while Eric Lichaj is the newest face after a breakout year with Aston Villa and Leeds.
The midfield remains largely unchanged. Donovan and Dempsey, both of whom could also see time at striker, are joined by Aston Villa’s Michael Bradley and Rangers’ Maurice Edu. Blackburn Rovers hardman Jermaine Jones is also in line for his first competitive matches for his country after injuries left him out of the conversation for the World Cup. And playmaker Benny Feilhaber, who joined the the New England Revolution this spring, is back after logging valuable minutes off the bench in South Africa last summer.
Former Chivas USA and current Anderlecht man Sacha Kljestan returns after being left off of the World Cup roster. And Columbus Crew veteran Robbie Rogers, who was also in the 30-man camp last summer but missed the cut, provides depth on the wing.
And then there's Adu, the stunner of the bunch. The onetime D.C. United and RSL boy wonder Adu returns to the US fold after finally gaining traction this spring with Turkish second-division side Rizespor. He has 15 career caps to his credit, but hasn't donned the Stars and Stripes since appearing in the group stage of the 2009 Gold Cup.
The US lost to Mexico, 5-0, in the final that year, but won the title in the previous edition in 2007, after Feilhaber’s second-half volley proved the difference in a 2-1 win over Mexico in the final at Soldier Field in Chicago.
This year’s Gold Cup opens June 5, and the Americans begin play in Group C on June 7 against Canada at Ford Field in Detroit. Panama and Guadeloupe round out Group C.