Berhalter instead called upon Jozy Altidore, the veteran who is expected to start at Gold Cup, and Gyasi Zardes as the roster’s two strikers.
Berhalter called the decision regarding Sargent the most difficult one the staff had to make, adding that it was affected by midfielder Sebastian Lletget missing the tournament with an injury. Coaches felt Lletget provided depth as an attacking midfielder and winger, so without him, Berhalter said the staff “didn’t feel we could afford to carry three strikers on the roster anymore.”
“We have to remember that he’s 19 years old and he has a bright future in front of him,” Berhalter said of Sargent. “When I talked to him and gave him the news, one thing I mentioned was that he’s going to be the striker for the national team in the future. We’re sure of that.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley, 31 and with 145 national team caps, is the most veteran member of the squad that also includes newcomers and fast-rising players, such as Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. None of those three played in the friendly against Jamaica. Pulisic will join the group Thursday, and Adams will arrive Tuesday.
“We're excited about the mix between experience and youth,” Berhalter said. “We think it's a group that projects well for the years to come.”
The three goalkeepers on the roster, with Zack Steffen as the likely starter, have a combined 16 national team caps. Forward Tyler Boyd has not yet played for the U.S. national team. Boyd, a citizen of New Zealand and the United States, recently completed a one-time association change after he represented New Zealand at the youth level. Duane Holmes earned a spot after playing well off the bench in the Jamaica friendly, his international debut.
The continental championship featuring countries from North America, Central America and the Caribbean will be the first official competition for Berhalter, who has led the team since December with only friendlies and training camps as assessment tools.
“We think it’s a good chance to see what this team can do,” Berhalter said of Gold Cup, which will begin June 15. “I would measure success in this Gold Cup by how we perform and can we make it to the final? And then can we win the Gold Cup? That’s how we’re looking at it. I think it’s a good challenge for this group to have that as a marker.”
The national team will play another friendly, this time against Venezuela, in Cincinnati on Sunday, the group’s final tuneup before it opens Gold Cup play against Guyana on June 18.
U.S. Gold Cup roster
Club and national team caps in parentheses.
Goalkeepers: Sean Johnson (New York City FC, 7), Tyler Miller (LAFC, 0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC, 9)
Defenders: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, 10), Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC, 50), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes, 3), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls, 5), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact, 4), Matt Miazga (Chelsea, 13), Tim Ream (Fulham, 29), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC, 6)
Midfielders: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, 145), Duane Holmes (Derby County, 1), Weston McKennie (Schalke, 8), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, 25), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC, 10), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC, 16)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC, 110), Paul Arriola (D.C. United, 22), Tyler Boyd (Vitória Guimãres, 0), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids, 4), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC, 27), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC, 44)