Saief has injured groin, replaced by Pontius on US roster

Gent's Kenny Saief plays the ball during a Champions League round of sixteen second leg soccer match against VfL Wolfsburg in Wolfsburg, Germany. Saief has been given permission by FIFA to change his national team affiliation to the United States from Israel. The announcement was made by the U.S. Soccer Federation on Thursday, June 22, 2018. The 23-year-old from Panama City, Fla., played for Israel's under-19 and under-21 teams. (Michael Sohn/AP)

CHICAGO — Midfielder Kenny Saief will miss the CONCACAF Gold Cup because of a groin injury and will be replaced by Chris Pontius on the U.S. roster.

A 23-year-old midfielder with Gent in Belgium, Saief made his U.S. debut in Saturday’s 2-1 exhibition win over Ghana, entering in the 71st minute. He made two appearances for Israel, then was given permission by FIFA to switch affiliation to the U.S.

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Saief was training with the Americans on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, ahead of Saturday’s opener against Panama. The U.S. Soccer Federation said Wednesday that Saief’s injury occurred during the European season and got worse. He was scheduled to return to Belgium later Wednesday.

Pontius, who plays for Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, made his first two U.S. appearances last winter against Serbia and Jamaica.