There was a big surprise in the announcement of the U.S. men’s soccer team’s roster for the coming Concacaf Gold Cup. Striker Josh Sargent, who was kept out of the under-20 World Cup to spend the summer with the senior team, did not make the cut.

In a conference call with reporters after announcing the roster, coach Gregg Berhalter said omitting the 19-year-old, the program’s top forward prospect, was “the most difficult decision we had to make.” It was caused, Berhalter said, by losing midfielder Sebastien Lletget to a hamstring injury suffered while playing last Sunday for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

"We saw [Lletget] as depth for the central midfield positions, attacking midfield, and as a winger," Berhalter said. "It kind of put a wrench in the plans a little bit. We didn't feel we could afford to carry three strikers on the roster anymore."

That did not stop a barrage of questions about Sargent’s standing. Berhalter took them all.

"We spoke to him at length about his summer, about how we see him, about where we feel he should be challenged, and at this point, we thought he would benefit from the challenge of the full national team," Berhalter said.

“I think we were up front all along in saying this is an opportunity for him, and hopefully he can take advantage of it, and there’s a chance that he may not be in the squad. These things happen with soccer, especially when we’re trying to balance the roster off.”

He also noted that Sargent "lacked a little sharpness" after being stuck on the bench for all but one game since the start of March with his club team, Werder Bremen of Germany's Bundesliga.

“Josh is a top striker, and he’s going to have a lot of opportunities to show that,” Berhalter said. “The most important thing for him is to focus on getting to Bremen for preseason and performing well.”

The two strikers Berhalter picked are veterans Jozy Altidore and Gyasi Zardes. Altidore took a lot of heat for being part of the failed 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, but still has plenty to offer at age 29. Zardes has a scoring touch, but is often a straight-line runner with limited skills.

Berhalter rates them both highly, though, and was not afraid to say it.

“We think that they’re ahead of [Sargent] right now,” Berhalter said. “We have to do what we felt was best for the team right now, and that’s the decision we made.”

The U.S. begins its run in the Gold Cup on June 18 against Guyana in St. Paul, Minn. If the Americans make the knockout stages, they’ll play their quarterfinal game at Lincoln Financial Field on June 30.

Click here for the full tournament schedule.

U.S. Gold Cup roster

Goalkeepers (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Tyler Miller (Los Angeles FC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)

Defenders (8): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, Germany), Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea, England), Tim Ream (Fulham, England), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles FC)

Midfielders (6): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Duane Holmes (Derby County, England), Weston McKennie (Schalke, Germany), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Forwards (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Vitória Guimãres, Portugal), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)