Two players with Atlanta ties were selected to the team that will represent the United States in this summer’s Gold Cup soccer tournament. Two quarterfinal games in the event will be played in the Georgia Dome on July 20.
Jack McInerney, who grew up in Alpharetta, and Sean Johnson, who played at Brookwood High, were two of the 23 players selected by coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Thursday.
McInerney is tied as the leading scorer in Major League Soccer this season, with 10 goals in 16 matches for Philadelphia. Though he has played on the U.S. youth national teams, this is his first call-up to the national team. He is one of five forwards, including Landon Donovan, on the roster. Klinsmann said he likes that McInerney is hungry for goals and has a good work ethic.
“It means a lot for me,” McInerney said in a statement given to the media. “This is something that I’ve always wanted. I always grew up watching the men’s national team play and wanted to be there one day. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I think it will once I get there, but right now in the moment, it feels good.”
Johnson has started 86 regular-season games in goal for Chicago during the past four years. He was one of three goalkeepers selected. He has made three appearances with the U.S. national team. Klinsmann said that his assistant coaches have seen Johnson’s progress in recent camps.
“I’ve spoken with Jurgen in the past, but when I found out that I would be a part of the Gold Cup squad, I was definitely very excited and just happy to be with the national team again and to get another opportunity to win something and play for your country, to represent something more than yourself,” Johnson told the Chicago Fire. “You represent your club, your country, your family and friends, all of that combined, I think is all encompassed in playing for the United States.”
The players will report to training camp in San Diego by July 1 and then play a friendly against Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium on July 5. The Gold Cup, featuring the national teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, will start July 7. The U.S. team will open against Belize on July 9 in Portland. It also will play Cuba on July 13 in Sandy, Utah, and will finish group play against Costa Rica on July 16 in East Hartford, Conn.
If the U.S. team were to finish third in its group, which is unlikely, it could play in a quarterfinal in the Dome. The United States has reached the Gold Cup final in five of the past six tournaments, winning three titles.