Sean Johnson is returning to International action as the New York City FC goalkeeper has been named to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the upcoming Gold Cup.
The lone New York player on the 23-man roster, Johnson will be joined by goalkeepers Brad Guzan of Atlanta United and Bill Hamid of D.C. United. It’s Johnson’s first call-up since the 28-year old was named to the 2013 Gold Cup squad that won the competition for the fifth time.
“I’m excited to be back with the group, having been part of the 2013 Gold Cup team that won, and I’m looking forward to getting out and doing it again,” Johnson told NYCFC.com. “It’s special every single time. Every single time you get an opportunity to wear your country’s badge and represent what it means to be from the United States is great.”
Johnson’s place on the Gold Cup roster comes at a time when head coach Bruce Arena may be looking for younger talent in the U.S. net. Tim Howard, 38, has been a fixture for the Americans but will be 39 before the start of the 2018 World Cup. While Guzan at age 32 is six years younger than Howard, he returned to Major League Soccer recently to play with Atlanta. That followed two consecutive seasons in the Premier League where was the keeper for teams that were relegated; Aston Villa in 2016 and Middlesbrough in 2017.
While the Gold Cup will give Arena a chance to break in some new talent, with four first-timers on the roster, there is opportunity for players to impress the head coach prior to the resumption of World Cup qualifying this fall. Currently, the United States sits in third place in the Hexagonal, one of three CONCACAF World Cup automatic qualifying positions.
When Johnson joined New York City in the offseason, he spoke of his desire to return to National Team play. Johnson credits working with NYCFC Goalkeeper Coach Rob Vartughian and fellow keepers Eirik Johansen and Andre Rawls as helping improve his play.
“I think I’ve improved a lot,” he told NYCFC.com, “For me, working with Rob on a daily basis it’s been about really breaking down my game and getting back to some of the simple things, along with some tweaks and changes that he felt could help me and I think they have.”
In announcing the roster, Arena noted its blend of experienced, veteran players along with the crop of newcomers.
“There’s good balance at every position,” he said. “We can play a number of ways, and I think all these players have a desire to play for the U.S. and will be working hard. It will be a competitive camp. They are going to be highly motivated, very coachable and they have an opportunity to make a statement.”
The U.S. will play Ghana in a friendly on July 1 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in Hartford and will then kick off Gold Cup play on against Panama on July 8 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. On July 12, the U.S. will meet Martinique at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and three days later will close out Group Stage play against Nicaragua at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
U.S. Men Gold Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 54/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 2/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 39/1), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 39/1), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 2/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 11/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 2/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX; 6/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 47/5)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 8/0), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 5/2), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 60/2), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX; 17/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 6/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 0/0), Kenny Saief (Gent/BEL; 0/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 31/6)
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 23/3), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/2)