Chris Pontius will join the U.S. Friday after the Philadelphia Union plays Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer)

CHICAGO – Chris Pontius is in and Kenny Saief is out.

U.S. men’s head coach Bruce Arena Wednesday called up Philadelphia Union midfielder Chris Pontius as an injury replacement for Gent midfielder Kenny Saief for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Having made his U.S. debut in Saturday’s 2-1 friendly win against Ghana, Saief has been sidelined with a groin injury that rules him out of the competition. Pontius has proven to be a long-time thorn in the Red Bulls’ sides in recent seasons.

Per tournament rules, pending CONCACAF approval, a team may replace an injured player on the roster up to 24 hours prior to its first match due to injury. The player must come from the 40-man preliminary roster , which was announced June 3.

Having earned his first two caps earlier this year against Serbia (Jan. 29) and Jamaica (Feb. 5), Pontius has recorded six assists in 17 appearances for the Philadelphia Union this season. He will join the U.S. MNT in Nashville Friday following the Union’s match against Sporting Kansas City Thursday.

The Americans begin their quest for a sixth regional title when they open play in the Gold Cup against Panama on Saturday in Nashville (4:30 p.m. ET; FOX, Univision, Univision Deportes Network).

U.S. roster

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 55/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 2/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 40/1), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 40/1), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 3/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 11/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 2/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX; 7/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 49/5)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 9/1), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 6/2), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 61/2), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX; 18/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 7/0), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union; 2/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 1/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 32/6)

FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 23/3),Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 1/1), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 16/2)

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.