3 USMNT Players to Watch in the 2017 Gold Cup
Although the majority of the top soccer leagues around the world are currently in the offseason, there are important matches taking place on the international stage. Today, for instance, marks the start of a Gold Cup tournament for the USMNT.
The Gold Cup is a regional tournament held every two years between teams in CONCACAF, and it determines who qualifies for the prestigious Confederations Cup. The winner of this year’s Gold Cup tournament and the winner of the 2019 Gold Cup tournament will play against each other in a playoff to determine who advances to the Confederations Cup 2021. If the same team wins both Gold Cups, they automatically advance to the Confederations Cup, so a win for the USMNT in this tournament would be a major step toward qualification.
Despite this being an important tournament, USMNT coach Bruce Arena chose not to call up many key players in order to give them a rest from their rigorous schedules. As a result, there are several new faces to watch on this Gold Cup roster. Here are three players who could make a mark on the tournament.
The 26-year-old England-born striker moved to the United States to play college soccer. He just became eligible for the USMNT after earning US citizenship in March of this year. Dwyer was taken 16th overall in the 2012 MLS Draft by Sporting KC, and has been one of the league's best goal scorers over the past few seasons.
Dwyer has scored 56 goals in 114 appearances for Sporting KC since 2014, for a rate of .49 goals per game. Living up to his club form, Dwyer scored a goal in his international debut against Ghana in a July 1 friendly. With the USMNT being one of the favorites to take the Gold Cup, Dwyer is a candidate to win the Golden Boot award, given to the player with the most goals scored in the tournament.
Miazga is a 21-year-old center back who starred with New York Red Bulls in 2015. His strong MLS season helped him secure a move to the current EPL champions, Chelsea, but he was sent out on loan to Vitesse in the Eredivisie to play the 2016-17 season. The Eredivisie may not be the same quality as the EPL, but it's a well-respected league, and Miazga thrived there.
In his 15 starts for Vitesse, he compiled a 7.2 WhoScored.com rating, well above the league average. He should see significant playing time in this tournament, and it could be his chance to work his way into the lineup on a consistent basis.
Like Miazga, the 21-year-old midfielder will likely see significant playing time in this tournament. At the club level, Acosta established himself as one of the key players on an FC Dallas team currently in first place in the Western Conference of MLS. He scored his first goal for team USA on a free kick in a friendly against Ghana earlier this month, and has shown the potential to be a quality two-way player.
A strong tournament for Acosta could accelerate a move to a European club team (if he desires to play in Europe), and would certainly put him in the mix to make the roster for World Cup in 2018, should the USMNT manage to qualify.