United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has settled on his 23-man roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup next month.
Graham Zusi is in.
Matt Besler is out.
Zusi was chosen to the U.S. roster for the tournament, which runs July 7-26 and includes a U.S. national team match at Sporting Park on July 13. Also, Sporting KC defender Marcel de Jong was chosen to Canada’s national team for the Gold Cup, which serves as the CONCACAF regional championship.
If Zusi appears in a match during the tournament, it will mark his first action with the national team in 2015.
“It’s exciting. It’s been awhile since I’ve been with that group, and I’ve been working hard to get back in,” Zusi said. “It’s tough being on the outside looking in, but I think this is a great opportunity to get back into the fold.”
He won’t be joined by his longtime Sporting KC teammate.
After being a fixture with the Americans for the better part of the past two-plus years — a stint that included starts in all four 2014 FIFA World Cup matches — Besler was left off the roster Monday.
Besler, 28, is enjoying one of his best MLS seasons to date, and despite a plethora of injuries along the Sporting KC back line, the club has posted four shutouts over its past five matches.
He will remain eligible for the knockout stage of the Gold Cup, should Klinsmann opt to add him for the tournament’s quarterfinals.
Zusi will join the national team Sunday for its pre-tournament camp. He will miss Sporting Kansas City’s Open Cup match against FC Dallas on July 1 and as many as three MLS regular-season matches.
But he won’t be a stranger to Sporting Park. The call-up could allow him to represent his country in front of his home crowd.
Sporting Park will play host to the Group A finale on July 13, with the U.S. facing Panama at 8:30 p.m. That match will be preceded by Honduras and Haiti at 6 p.m.
In a World Cup qualifier at Sporting Park in 2013, Zusi scored the U.S. national team’s first goal during a 2-0 victory against Jamaica.
“I consider myself extremely lucky to play at Sporting Park on a weekly basis. It’s special to do it with the national team, as well,” Zusi said. “It feels slightly different to be representing your national team, but doing it at home, it’s a really neat feeling. I’m extremely excited to do it again.”
A series of injuries have kept Zusi out of the national team picture since last October. He spent the MLS offseason recovering from a stress reaction in his foot, and he has missed time this season with a hamstring strain and a concussion. He has one goal and four assists across 12 appearances with Sporting KC this season.
“The past few weeks, I’ve been healthy. It’s as simple as that,” Zusi said. “I’ve found my fitness as well.”