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A number of Crew players called up to 2021 Gold Cup rosters

Gyasi Zardes, Kevin Molino, Derrick Etienne Jr., Eloy Room, and Liam Fraser will be at the Gold Cup this month.

SOCCER: JUL 07 CONCACAF Gold Cup Finals - USA v Mexico Photo By Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

July has arrived and that means it’s CONCACAF Gold Cup time. The tournament is slated to begin on July 2 with a preliminary round in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as the best nations in the region compete for the Gold Cup title.

Among the rosters for the competition include plenty of Columbus Crew players with five announced to be leaving Ohio to join their national teams. Here are the Black & Gold members going to play for their countries.

Gyasi Zardes - United States

Zardes is back with the USA. The Crew striker was called up by his former Black & Gold boss Gregg Berhalter for what will be his fourth Gold Cup (2015, 2017, 2019, 2021). Zardes has scored three MLS goals this season and crossed a Columbus milestone with his 50th goal for the club. He played just once for the national team in 2020 after a productive 2019 where he scored four goals in the last Gold Cup.

He will be among multiple other MLS stars on the USMNT roster. Zardes could have an impact at this tournament with the Americans as one of the favorites to win the competition for the seventh time. The U.S. will play its group games in Kansas City with the opener on July 11 against a preliminary team.

Impact on the Crew

This will be a big loss for Columbus with its top striker gone for what could be a majority of July. Currently, the roster has just two strikers in Zardes and Bradley Wright-Phillips with the latter currently out with injury. Head coach Caleb Porter might have to improvise and play someone out of position until Wright-Phillips is healthy.

Eloy Room - Curaçao

As expected, the Crew’s No. 1 goalkeeper will be off with his country. Room will re-join Curaçao for the Gold Cup less than a month after the team was knocked out of FIFA World Cup qualifiers by Panama. Room has made 41 caps for Curaçao and had his breakthrough at the 2019 Gold Cup with his remarkable performances leading to his signing with the Crew.

In 2021, Room has already played nine games in MLS for the Black & Gold and earned three clean sheets. His strong season in 2020 established him as one of the best keepers in MLS and in CONCACAF. Curaçao is set to play the opening game of the Gold Cup group stage on July 10 against El Salvador in Frisco, Texas.

Impact on the Crew

With Room gone, MLS veteran Evan Bush is likely to step in as the No. 1 goalkeeper during the Gold Cup. Fans got a preview of Bush for the Black & Gold on June 19 when he kept a clean sheet against the Chicago Fire in the final match at historic Crew Stadium. Bush will face much better offenses with a minimum of two possible starts against FC Cincinnati and New York City FC. If Curaçao advances, Bush is the starter for the next two games against Nashville SC and Atlanta United.

Kevin Molino - Trinidad & Tobago

Molino is one of two Columbus players set to play in the Gold Cup preliminary round to determine the last three teams in the group stage. After two months out with a hamstring injury, Molino made his first three appearances with the Crew over the last three matches, including two starts.

Trinidad & Tobago has been in turmoil with its recent disappointing exit from World Cup qualifiers but has a chance to regain confidence in the preliminary round. Molino should start in T&T’s Friday match against Montserrat in Florida with a win guaranteeing a July 6 game against either Cuba or French Guiana. Should Trinidad & Tobago win on July 6, Molino and company will make the group stage.

Impact on the Crew

Columbus has gotten used to not having Molino available for the selection but the question will be how much longer. Trinidad &Tobago will be favored to make the group stage and would be in a group with Mexico, Curacao and El Salvador. Molino is gone for at least one game but it could be two more if T&T makes the group stage. The Crew has players that can step in on the wings with Pedro Santos, Luis Diaz, Alexandru Matan, Marlon Hairston and even Milton Valenzuela.

Derrick Etienne Jr. - Haiti

Also playing in the preliminary round will be Crew’s Haitian winger. Etienne recently played with the national team in June for World Cup qualifiers and scored a goal to help Haiti advance to the second round, where they were eliminated by Canada. In Black & Gold, Etienne provided two assists in eight appearances this year but is still searching for his first Crew goal since the 2020 MLS Cup Final.

Haiti is motivated to make another magical Gold Cup run after making the semifinals in 2019 with Etienne on the roster. The Haitians will play the first match of the tournament on Friday against St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a win securing a July 6 match against either Bermuda or Barbados. If Haiti makes the group stage, the nation will play the United States, Canada and Martinique.

Impact on the Crew

Etienne shares a similar story to Molino in regards to being absent. It could be for only one game or multiple with the latter more likely as Haiti would be favorites in both preliminary matches. Getting past the U.S. and Canada in the group stage is a different story. Things would get complex in the winger positions if Molino and Etienne can spark deep Gold Cup runs and Matan is selected for the Romanian Olympic team.

Liam Fraser - Canada

Another new Crew signing is going to the Gold Cup and has a chance to make a deep run. Fraser is once again called up to the Canada roster as the Canucks believe they can make a run to its first Gold Cup crown since 2000. Fraser joined Columbus on a season-long loan from Toronto FC and has made a quick impact. He started in the Crew’s last three matches and helped the team to two clean sheets.

Fraser and Canada begin the tournament on July 11 against Martinique in Kansas City. After a July 15 match against a preliminary round winner, Canada will play the United States in a huge contest on July 18. Fraser should get some minutes during the tournament in a squad featuring Canadian stars like Alphonso Davies, Ayo Akinola and Lucas Cavallini.

Impact on the Crew

Center midfield has been a position with a lot of forced rotation this season for Columbus. The injuries of Artur, Aidan Morris and Perry Kitchen were a factor in the loan signing of and now with Fraser gone, the Crew will look to Kitchen and Isaiah Parente to step in midfield next to Darlington Nagbe until Artur returns.