As reinforcements arrive, U.S. targets Atlanta

DaMarcus Beasley (pictured), shown celebrating after the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, was called up to the USA for the knockout rounds of the 2015 edition. (Photo: Mexsport)

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- With forward Alan Gordon, midfielder Joe Corona and defender DaMarcus Beasley summoned to Baltimore, the United States has made more squad adjustments ahead of the quarterfinals than any other survivor of the CONCACAF Gold Cup’s group phase.

Though it remains to be seen how much each may play in Saturday’s match against Cuba, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is hoping the additions -- especially of Beasley -- will naturally lift everyone else’s focus.

“It kind of really gives the competition within the group another edge,” Klinsmann said at Friday's pre-match press conference.  “Obviously the other ones are not stupid.  They know OK, Beas is coming back, Beas is not coming back to sit on the bench.  Beas is coming back, he wants to play.  But this is what we planned.  We don’t want anybody to settle at any time.”

Beasley’s addition is especially intriguing, given that he had previously announced his retirement from international soccer following last year’s World Cup, in which he played in all four matches.

Now 33, Beasley replaces left back Greg Garza on the squad, but could also provide an option in wide midfield, and perhaps more importantly another voice of insight in training sessions or matches.

Beasley returned from Liga MX to join the MLS’s Houston Dynamo midway through last season, and has started in 29 matches since.

“Maybe not the biggest talker, but when he has something to say, he says it, and guys listen,” said U.S. captain Michael Bradley.  “He’s somebody I’ve looked up to and to be back in the same team with him is, it’s special.  And when he walks in the door, it’s a lift for everybody.  And we can always use his quality on the field on the left side.”

Gordon, also 33, adds a unique skillset as a player who has spent much of his professional career specializing as a late-game offensive substitute.

This season, he has four goals in 20 matches for the LA Galaxy, including 14 appearances off the bench.

“When he comes in, he is a guy that is all about the team,” Bradley said.  “He is ready to come on at any moment and give everything he has to change a game, and so you can never have too many of these kinds of guys.”

Even though the USA has only scored four goals -- tied for its lowest output in a three-match group stage at the Gold Cup -- the side still secured the top spot in Group A with a match left to play.

“Seeing all the other results, seeing all the other games, the up and downs other teams have, I think we are very consistent in what we are doing,” Klinsmann finished.  “I’m not saying it’s perfect, but we are very consistent, very focused, and that’s what we want to do tomorrow night in order to get to Atlanta.”