With the CONCACAF Gold Cup considered the last chance saloon for fringe players to make a final push into the US national team’s core group for World Cup qualifying, the absences of former standouts Carlos Bocanegra (110 caps) and Brek Shea (16 caps) from the final 23-man roster raised a few eyebrows.
But US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Thursday clarified that their exclusion was a joint decision made after lengthy discussions, and it had more to do with their club situation than anything else.
“With Carlos I had a long talk," Klinsmann said of the ex-US captain Bocanegra (above). "He’s basically in the middle of another move. He’s in the middle of another change. As it looks like today, he’s going to leave Racing Santander and he’s in the middle of making up his mind of where he wants to go and where he wants to continue his career.
"So we agreed to leave him out of that roster in order for him to have all the options open to join a new team from the start in preseason, and not coming in kind of late into this new opportunity.”
Shea will actually join the first part of US camp in San Diego, which opens on July 1, before heading to England on July 6 for the start of preseason training with EPL side Stoke City under new head coach Mark Hughes.
"We decided that it was really best for Brek to join their preseason at Stoke starting on July 8 with his club," Klinsmann said. "It’s really, really important that he starts off well with Stoke and gets his starting spot well and breaks in, in order for him to get a breakthrough in Europe."
Despite the absence of Bocanegra and Shea, Klinsmann is counting on having Bolton's Stuart Holden available to start during the Gold Cup -- "The plan is coming along and now obviously he’s getting closer to start games himself," Klinsmann commented — along with forward Herculez Gomez, who bowed out of the recent May-June camp with a contusion to his right knee.
COMMENTARY: Klinsmann going for broke with Gold Cup roster
"He's clear to go, he’s ready to go," Klinsmann said of Gomez. "But on the second of July, the entire team will go through fitness testing … and we’re going to see clearly then what his conditions are. If he’s running behind for a couple of days, it’s no problem. Then he will catch up to us over the next few days. So we’re very positive on Herculez."
On the negative side, Klinsmann is hopeful Steve Cherundolo's latest surgery to his left knee doesn't come with a long-term layoff. The US manager said he would contact the right back on Thursday for more details.
"Hopefully it’s nothing too serious and it will heal right away," Klinsmann said. "Obviously he’s been struggling with the knee surgery coming out of the winter break and he was doing really, really well now before he got into his summer break.
"We kept him out of the May-June period because of his personal situation there. So it would be a really bummer. Hopefully we get good news out of Hannover that it’s not so bad."