Los Angeles Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes and Pachuca defender Jorge Villafana were among the 23-man roster announced Sunday that will represent the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament.

The 25-year-old Zardes, a former standout at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, has played 31 games with the U.S. men’s national team, scoring six goals. His most recent national team appearance was June 25, 2016, in the 1-0 loss to Colombia in the third-place game of Copa America Centenario.

Villafana, a 27-year-old former Anaheim High standout, has made six appearances with the national team, including playing all 90 minutes in the 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier June 8.

The roster has five players who have played at least 39 games with the national team and 13 who have played less than 10, including four with no national team appearances. Zardes is among nine players who were not born when the U.S. won the inaugural CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991.

“It’s a good roster with a nice blend of experienced, veteran players and a good group of newcomers as well,” said coach Bruce Arena, who coached the Galaxy from 2008 through 2016.

“There’s good balance at every position. 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 team consists of 16 players who play for Major League Soccer teams, four who play in Mexico, two in England and one in Belgium. The European-based players who usually play for the national team have been given time off from their national team duties until World Cup qualifying resumes Sept. 1 against Costa Rica.

The team will face Ghana  in an exhibition Saturday in East Hartford, Connecticut, then begin play in the Gold Cup July 8 against Panama in Nashville, Tennessee. The tournament is played every two years and is the championship of the North American, Central American and Caribbean region.

The U.S. has won the tournament five times, most recently in 2013.

–City News Service

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