UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — If the United States are to advance to yet another Gold Cup final, chances are that young Yanks Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream will have to fight past some of their club teammates to get there.
Agudelo and Ream are among five members of the Red Bulls headed to the Gold Cup. Jamaican international Dane Richards has already left to join his national team, while Rafa Márquez will depart after Wednesday’s match against Colorado to join Mexico. Dwayne De Rosario, Ream and Agudelo all leave after this Saturday’s match in Vancouver.
For Agudelo and Ream, this is the most significant call-up the two players have received to date. Both have previously only played in friendlies, and this Gold Cup represents a chance to play for their country in a FIFA sanctioned tournament.
“It seems like every call-up is getting bigger and bigger,” Agudelo said. “This tournament — it’s not a friendly.”
While Agudelo is likely to play a super-sub role for the US — as he does for the Red Bulls — it looks like the Gold Cup is a chance for Ream to stake a claim on a starting role for the national team.
“It is a great opportunity for me,” Ream said. “But Bob [Bradley] didn’t say anything after the Argentina and Paraguay matches about anything in particular to do, just to continue working hard.”
For Agudelo, the call-up means a little something extra.
Growing up, he remembers watching Mexico and the United States always playing each other in the championship game — the two countries have met in the last three championship games and five times total — and Agudelo understands the depth of the rivalry between the two bordering nations.
Agudelo said he’s already begun the trash-talking with Márquez.
“We did talk [about it],” Agudelo said with a laugh. "I’ve made some jokes that he better not kick me as hard as others because we’re friends."
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer