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Alan Gordon

Men's National Team

Klinsmann Makes Four Changes to 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Roster

CHICAGO (July 18, 2013) — U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has made four changes to the 23-player 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster. Per tournament regulations, teams had the opportunity to make up to four changes to the roster in the 24 hours following the completion of the group phase.

Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Alan Gordon and Eddie Johnson have all been added to the U.S. roster. Besler, Gordon and Johnson will report to Baltimore on Thursday in advance of the USA’s quarterfinal matchup against El Salvador on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, Univision). Gonzalez will join the team should the U.S. reach the semifinal.

Two changes come as the result of injury concerns. Oguchi Onyewu suffered an ankle sprain during the USA’s 4-1 win against Belize on July 13 in Sandy, Utah. Herculez Gomez continues to feel the effects of a knee issue and will head to Club Tijuana to prepare for the upcoming season.

Also departing are Houston Dynamo defender and 2013 MLS All-Star Corey Ashe, and Jack McInerney, the 20-year-old Philadelphia Union forward who made his debut in a National Team camp.

Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez have partnered as centerbacks for the last four World Cup qualifiers, including the 0-0 draw in Mexico and the three consecutive victories against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras. With his goal in the 2-0 win against Panama in Seattle, Eddie Johnson moved into second place on the USA’s all-time scoring list in qualifying with 11 goals.

The United States finished in first place in Group C with three consecutive victories. With the 1-0 win against Costa Rica, the team extended its winning streak to eight matches, the longest in MNT history.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Gold Cup Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United – 0/0), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire – 1/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake – 2/0)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla – 19/6), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake – 1/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana – 1/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 0/0)), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes – 12/2), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Puebla - 3/1), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg – 7/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake – 8/1), Alejandro Bedoya (Helsinborg – 7/1), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana – 3/1), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg – 3/0), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers – 8/3), Brek Shea (Stoke City – 3/1), Jose Torres (Tigres – 3/0)
FORWARDS (5): Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo – 0/0), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy – 31/15), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes – 0/0), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders – 3/1), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes – 6/5)

Total Team Effort

A World Cup qualifying campaign is a team effort in every sense of the term. Through five matches in World Cup qualifying, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has deployed 27 different players. In the last cycle, 43 guys earned a cap and 17 put their name on the scoresheet.

Significant contributions can often be made by the players least likely to get a headline. The latest chapter in the legacy of players rising to the occasion in World Cup qualifying is of a resurgent forward getting a second shot at being a star and a 30-year-old earning his first cap by peaking at the right time and possessing the qualities that precisely matched the moment.

Eddie Johnson might have scored the most important goals of his career on Friday night, powering home two headers to deliver a vital 2-1 win for the United States against Antigua & Barbuda. Having last appeared for the MNT in 2010 and last scored two years before that, Johnson seemed an unlikely candidate to be the hero. He was aided by Alan Gordon, a striker who has quietly put together the two best years of his professional career and personified a “carpe diem” moment by teeing up the game-winner in his first-ever appearance for the National Team.

This pair is just one example from the history books. Steve Ralston scored only four goals in 36 games for the National Team, so he didn’t figure to have a huge part in the annals of U.S. scoring lore. Yet his rebound goal off a free kick from Eddie Lewis in the 53rd minute against Mexico proved to be the one that sealed the USA’s ticket to the 2006 FIFA World Cup after the United States collected another 2-0 victory against their regional rivals.

Fast forward to 2009, when the U.S. traveled to Honduras for the ninth of 10 matches in the final round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Anything less than a victory would have meant the USA’s fate would have come down to the last game, and it was facing a Honduran team that had yet to lose at home during the entire cycle. In a move questioned by many media and fans, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley deployed Conor Casey at forward. While featuring in several matches that year, the Colorado Rapids striker hadn’t scored a single goal in 15 matches at the international level. A bold challenge on a header and a nifty touch silenced the heavily-partisan crowd in San Pedro Sula as Casey potted the USA’s first two goals, and the team went on to capture a 3-2 victory and a spot in South Africa.

Just when you thought the drama couldn’t get any higher, the U.S. found itself down 2-1 at home against Costa Rica and needing a draw to finish first in the group. With the seconds ticking away in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time, defender Jonathan Bornstein took the unprecedented step of charging into the penalty area for a U.S. corner kick. Unexpected and unmarked, he made a near-post run and nodded home a header that set off wild celebrations on a truly emotional night in Washington, D.C.

World Cup qualifying is indeed a journey, and it’s never just the 23 players on any given roster. For sure there are key players who are a part of every match, but it’s not always the big boys who make the biggest impact. Sometimes it’s the right player, in the right time and in the right moment that seizes the chance and delivers exactly what the team needs. And just as often as not, those are the moments that make history.

MNT vs. ATG: Post-Match Quote Sheet

U.S. MNT Quote Sheet
U.S. MNT vs. Antigua and Barbuda
2014 World Cup Qualifying; Semifinal Round
Sir Vivian Richards Stadium; North Sound, Antigua
Oct. 12, 2012

U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach JURGEN KLINSMANN

On the match overall:
“We knew they would take this game as the game of their lives, and that’s what they did. We mentioned it to the players many times and made them aware of it. We expected the game to be very difficult. They have quality players in their side that can surprise you, which they did when they scored the equalizer. Then it’s just hard, hard work. You have to find ways through their block of eight or nine guys and create the chances and put the chances away. We got the three points. That’s the most important thing about this game. Do we have to play better? Absolutely. We are not happy with what we saw, but we expected a very difficult challenge and they gave us that challenge and it came down to the wire. I’m happy for Eddie, getting this moment back in the team. He was all excited the last couple of days. He put the two goals away and that gets us back home with three points. There are a couple of things that we will discuss internally that we need to do much better in Kansas City.”

On what he saw from Eddie Johnson that earned him the starting spot:
“We see a player that is extremely proud to be back in this group. We see a player that has matured a lot and knows now he has a point to prove. He gets that opportunity and knows maybe at his age there might not be that many opportunities coming, and he takes that one similar to Herculez Gomez how he took his chance in May and June in these games and put himself back into the team. That is great to see the hunger Eddie brought into the camp and the instinct to be in the right place at the right time.”

On the strategy and effect of the three U.S. substitutions he made:
“We said at halftime we have to step it up and we have to play fast and we have to play one-two touches more often and find space in behind their fullbacks. The reason Jermaine Jones didn’t play from the beginning is because he couldn’t train until the last training yesterday.We played him as a neutral in our training game because he carried an injury into camp. Based on the fact that he comes in with a yellow card, we thought it was wiser that he comes off the bench and see how the game goes. I told him to read the game, and if the game doesn’t go the way we want it to go then you’re in there in the second half, which happened. He came in with Sacha (Kljestan), who was very dynamic in training sessions and he was waiting for that opportunity. He has a good shot and created some stuff and has also had more urgency in his game. Bringing in Alan Gordon, you switch over to two forwards that have to be present in the box and switch Clint (Dempsey) back to a No. 10, changing the formation to a diamond because you’ve got to do something different if you’re not getting through. By doing that, things popped up there in the last 25 minutes and thankfully we got that winning goal.”

On what his thoughts were with the game tied 1-1 in the 85th minute:
“You just try to push it with your own little role you have on the sideline, and the subs too, we were cheering them on to keep going and going and pushing. We knew that there were still opportunities coming up, but you’ve got to force it, you’ve got to push it and have that urgency that we were lacking in the first half. The longer the game went, the more urgency was there and thankfully we scored that goal.”

On what he attributes to the team’s lack of urgency:
“It is something that you reinforce and talk about, but it has to develop within the whole group, especially in away games. We just need to be better at that. When you score the first goal, they still react a bit too much and drop back instead of just continuing to play your game the same way you did it until you scored. These are certainly things we have to work on, we have to do better. We were leading in Jamaica after a minute and then suddenly we dropped back. That is something that we have to work on mentally.”

On Michael Bradley taking on a more attacking role and trying to pair up with Danny Williams:
“Because it was so tight, it was difficult for them to find space. It was difficult for Michael to be ahead of Danny and they found themselves on the same line often and in that way you’re too predictable. In that moment, we switched over to a diamond and then there was a clear No. 6 in Jermaine (Jones) and we told Michael to come from half left and push more forward. The roles were better. Once there is no space with eight or nine guys right there making a big wall, it is difficult for the central midfielders to play their game and also to find those balls over the fullbacks.”

On the danger of the Antigua and Barbuda strikers and the play of the U.S. defense:
“In the first half, we have to win our duels in the back line and we told both our center backs that they have to step up. They can’t lose their individual battles there and they know it better than I do. They were not happy with their own game. They stepped it up. The second half was much better. We gave away too many balls there.”

On how the injuries and the state of the field played a factor in the outcome:
“Antigua played on the same pitch and I think they played a great game from their perspective. We have to give them a compliment. With the injuries, all I can do is take it the way it is. I just make changes and think through it. Would I love to have Fabian Johnson here? Absolutely. Edgar Castillo is an attacking left back, but there’s no complaining about that. We adjust and make the best out of it and we’ve got to get the job done.”

On if the substitution of Peter Byers by Antigua late in the match affected the outcome:
“No, I don’t think so. We were pushing the whole second half and we were hoping we got that second goal. It came late. There was just a couple minutes more to play, so their coach tried out somebody else for Peter. You’ve got to give Peter a huge compliment for the game he played. He occupied a couple of defenders and played a strong game.”

U.S. forward and Budweiser Man of the Match EDDIE JOHNSON
On the match overall:
“It was a lot of thinking before the second goal. It was 1-1 and I remember the Olympic team was in a similar situation. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be a part of a team that didn’t qualify for a World Cup. That was playing through everyone’s mind on the field as well as mine. We knew we were going to create chances; we were creating chances all game. It was a difficult game, well done by them to make it difficult for us tonight. We are a team of creating chances and we went with the tactical change where I went up top with (Alan) Gordon and it was back to basics playing up top and trying to find seams. Credit to Sacha (Kljestan) for keeping the ball alive and playing it to Gordon and it was a well-weighted pass from him. A lot of credit to him. I was just trying to be dangerous in the box and get my head on things and it was fortunate to go our way tonight.”

On his thoughts when he knew he was coming into camp after being away from the team:
“I was excited when I heard the news. Anytime you get a chance to wear the U.S. shirt, it’s an honor and a privilege and you don’t want to take it for granted. I had a lot of early success on the National Team, and as athletes you go through that slump or fall out of favor. It was good to get the call up, but working with the coach for the first time there was a lot of nerves running through my body and not knowing what to expect. When I got to camp, Clint Dempsey and I have always been roommates so I asked him what he’s like and what does he expect out of the forwards. Being a newcomer, I treated this like my first camp and just worked hard and tried to get better and gel with the players that have been regulars here and trying to find a solution every day try to put myself in a good position to play whatever role I need in these games.”

On what made the game difficult:
“The field was very small. We’re a good team pressuring up high and using our pace and creativity in attack. This pitch doesn’t allow you to play that way. It’s very small, it’s hard to run in behind, it’s hard to stretch their back four when they sit really deep. We knew it was going to be a tough game. These games aren’t easy. It’s a 90-minute game and we were able to do it tonight.”

On what he’s most looking forward to returning to Kansas City:
“It’s good to go back. I spent two good years there and have a lot of good memories out there. The last time I was there it didn’t go my way when we got knocked out of the Open Cup final on PKs. Like you said, it’s good to go back into an environment where they gave me a chance to put myself in the position to go and play in the Premier League and it’s going to be a good pitch, a good crowd and we’re looking forward to playing at home.”

On the match:
“It’s like that in CONCACAF. It’s hard to explain. It was a bit similar in Jamaica. The field conditions weren’t fantastic and for whatever reason we didn’t get it done. Tonight we ended up getting the three points, maybe not in the fashion we wanted but the three points are the most important thing. We put ourselves in good position now. I think most of us want to forget about this game and put it behind us, but we showed determination which is good late in the game. The guys kept pushing. We’ll build off that. It’s nice for our character, but other than that it’s just a game we forget.”

On looking ahead to Guatemala and what the team needs to do differently to win:
“It’s difficult to play well down here. We did the same thing against Jamaica last time. We came back and had a good game in Columbus. It’s going to be a nice field, we’ll have the home crowd and be able move the ball around and get guys moving in and out of spaces. We put ourselves in a good position by getting this win tonight. It’s three points and sometimes in CONCACAF it’s like this, so on Tuesday night we’ll go out there on the front foot and get a win hopefully.”

On the match:
“A few of us were saying it would be impossible to explain what it’s like to play in a game like this to anyone who is not here. We’ll be the first ones to look at ourselves and say that there’s a lot of things that need to be better, but at the end of the day three points are what counts. A result is what counts. To come away from a game like this with three points, going back to Kansas City we’ve put ourselves in a great spot. All along we’ve said it’s a long road, there are ups and downs. You have to be able to come away with results. You have to be able to win games when you don’t necessarily deserve it, you have to be able to tie games when you don’t necessarily deserve it. We did that tonight. It’s a great team effort and we’re proud of that. We’re looking forward to getting back to Kansas City and finishing on a positive.”

On what the mood in the locker room at halftime was like:
“We weren’t totally happy after we went up 1-0 and we let them back in it. It was too easy the way we let them back into the game. As we go forward we have to have a little bit more of a killer instinct that says when we get the first goal, we’re able to, in a smart way, go after a team and put them away and be able to get a second and a third. It also says a lot about a team that on a night when we’re not able to do that under tough conditions that we’re able to battle and grind and come away with a win like that at the end.”

On what to expect on Tuesday night against Guatemala:
“A great atmosphere. A lot of us have enjoyed seeing the evolution of things to the point where now we can play a qualifier like this in our country and we can get on the plane tomorrow and know that it’s going to an American crowd, a great crowd and it’s going to be a fun night. It’s up to us to make sure the stuff on the field gets taken care of, but that is something we look forward to and we’ll get the job done.”

U.S. forward ALAN GORDON
On the match against Antigua & Barbuda:
“They came out to fight for their lives. We knew it was a big game for them and they were going ot give everything they had. The pitch was difficult to play on. It was bumpy, with the rain it got a little sloppy out there, and it was tough on us.”

On what his mentality was entering the game:
“Just to get in the mix and to try to prove myself. I wanted to see if I could help in any way and I was excited to get the call tonight and ultimately help the team get some points.”

On the play that lead to the winning goal:
“We were just pushing and Sacha (Kljestan) played me a great ball. I just wanted to put a dangerous ball in and Eddie [Johnson] did a great job getting up and heading it away. It worked out.”

On how the team moves forward to Tuesday's game:
“It's tough to gauge in this game how we can get better. The field was difficult and it won't be like that in Kansas City. It will be a completely different game. We have to use our momentum, move forward and get three points.”