Injuries are a fact of life in professional and international sports, and sometimes they all seem to happen at once. That’s certainly the case this week, as a number of U.S. men’s national team regulars found themselves sidelined with various aliments.
Each ranged in severity and impact on the USMNT. But with the Americans’ next set of games now just over a month away, the timing and overall volume has to be concerning for coach Gregg Berhalter, to the point where the bad news couldn’t help overshadow some genuinely encouraging developments regarding two other players who found themselves back on the field for their European clubs.
Here’s the latest on nine key members of Berhalter’s squad.
USMNT players trending down
F Tim Weah, Lille (France)
Sidelined for six months with a hamstring injury, Weah re-injured himself mere minutes after coming on as a substitute in his Lille return during Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Marseille.
Takeaway: With veteran winger Paul Arriola also injured (more on that below), Weah’s odds of seeing the field for the USMNT for the first time under Berhalter in next month’s friendlies against the Netherlands and Wales felt good. Now that’s up in the air once again for Weah, who will turn 20 Saturday.
M Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (Germany)
Adams turned 21 on Valentine’s Day, but it wasn’t a happy occasion. A few days after helping second-place Leipzig earn a point at Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, the club announced that Adams — who missed the first half of the campaign with groin and foot problems — would sit out Saturday’s match against Werder Bremen (a 3-0 win) plus Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Tottenham because of a calf injury.
Takeaway: You have to feel for Adams. You also have to have some perspective: While the timing stinks for an ascendant talent who has been utterly snake-bitten over the last year, this prognosis is good news, relatively speaking. Barring any setback, the New York native should be good to go well ahead of the decisive March 10 return match with Spurs (not to mention the national team’s games a couple weeks later).
M Paul Arriola, DC United (MLS)
While the word on Adams isn’t bad, the same can’t be said for Arriola, who suffered a serious knee injury Saturday in a preseason match against Orlando City.
Takeaway: The Washington Post reported Sunday that Arriola has a partially torn ACL. Now, that’s obviously not as bad as a full tear. But it could still render him unavailable for country and club well into the summer, which would rule him out of the semis and final of the CONCACAF Nations League in June. For a player who has emerged as a consistent two-way presence on the wings and a key dressing room leader, it’s a bigger blow than many realize.
M/F Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England)
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said Friday that the adductor injury that has kept Pulisic out since New Year’s Day would also prevent him from participating in Monday’s high-profile clash with Manchester United.
Takeaway: The silver lining is that America’s top talent is back training with the Blues under-23 side, with the hope that he could rejoin Chelsea’s first team for this weekend’s match against London rival Spurs or next week’s daunting Champions League tangle with Bayern.
M Duane Holmes, Derby County (England)
Holmes had been the form of his career heading into Saturday’s Championship meeting with Huddersfield but lasted only 29 minutes before limping off with an ankle injury.
Takeaway: The 25-year-old was scheduled for an MRI on Monday but Derby had not made the results public yet. Still, any time on the sidelines would be unfortunate for the hard-running Holmes, who is looking for his first USMNT invite in almost a year next month.
G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)
With the nagging knee problem that has kept him out since December continuing to linger, the 24-year-old loanee traveled to England last week to have the injury assessed by doctors from parent club Manchester City.
Takeaway: This situation has become worrying in a hurry. One because of Steffen’s age, but also because after 35-year-old No. 2 Brad Guzan, the U.S. goalkeeper pool is as shallow as it’s been at any point in the last three decades.
D/M DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle (England)
The transfer window arrival of Valentino Lazaro on loan from Inter Milan isn’t great for Yedlin, who wasn’t even on the bench for Magpies manager Steve Bruce in Sunday’s 4-0 shellacking at Arsenal.
Takeaway: Lazaro got the call against the Gunners and he wasn’t great, which can’t hurt Yedlin any. Then again, Bruce suggested afterward that he wasn’t planning on making too many tweaks for Saturday’s jaunt to Crystal Palace, so don’t be shocked if Yedlin continues to sit.
USMNT players trending up
D John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany)
With fellow center back Marin Pongracic suspended because of the red card he took against Alfredo Morales’ Fortuna Dusseldorf last week, Brooks emerged from manager Oliver Glasner’s doghouse for the first time in four games and made the most of the opportunity, helping his side to a 3-2 win over Hoffenheim.
Takeaway: Brooks wasn’t flawless — Andrej Kramaric undressed him before picking out Christoph Baumgartner on Hoffenheim’s opener. But he was otherwise solid. Will it be enough to keep his spot in the Glasner’s lineup? With a Europa League tangle with Swedish club Malmo scheduled for Thursday then a visit from Mainz on Sunday, we’ll find out soon enough.
D/M Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany)
McKennie, 21, has found a home at right midfield after moving around the pitch for manager David Wagner earlier this season. He’s started Schalke’s last three games there, including Sunday’s scoreless draw with Mainz.
Takeaway: Don’t be fooled by the designation: The Texan is tucked inside in Wagner’s 4-1-2-1-2 scheme — not unlike the “dual 10” role he frequently occupies for the USMNT. That continuity can’t hurt when he reports for international duty next month, especially with other regulars potentially out.
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