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Injury absences present opportunities for USMNT candidates vs. Japan

In an ideal world, Gregg Berhalter would go into his the U.S. men’s national team friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia with a full-strength squad in order to give his preferred starting lineup two valuable opportunities to play together before the FIFA World Cup.

Injuries will keep that scenario from being an option for the USMNT though, and while key starters such as Antonee Robinson and Yunus Musah are set to miss the September friendlies, those absences will give the rest of the player pool a chance to bolster their own cases for a seat on the plane the Qatar.

Berhalter took a bit of suspense away regarding the USMNT lineup he will deploy against Japan on Friday (8 a.m., ESPN2/UniMas), confirming on Thursday that Sam Vines would start at left back in place of the injured Robinson, while Matt Turner and centerbacks Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long also prepare to start.

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

One position Berhalter didn’t divulge on Wednesday was which of his midfielders would step into the starting central role left vacant by Musah’s absence. Brenden Aaronson had been seen as a likely option to step in, but neither Berhalter or midfielders Weston McKennie or Tyler Adams mentioned Aaronson first or second when rattling off potential fill-ins for Musah’s spot.

“One of the key attributes of our team is obviously the depth in our team,” Adams said on Wednesday. “Yunus is a vital part to our midfield and obviously what he brings to the team is there’s something special, and me in Weston have obviously built a good chemistry with him. But we look forward to giving guys opportunities to play. We have guys like Luca De La Torre, that can step in there, Kellyn Acosta that can step in there that are all proven guys, so they’ll step in and do their job.”

De La Torre was the first midfielder mentioned by Berhalter when discussing potential Musah replacements, which wouldn’t be such a surprise if not for the fact…

Source link : https://sbisoccer.com/2022/09/injury-absences-present-opportunities-for-usmnt-candidates-vs-japan

Author : Ives Galarcep

Publish date : 2022-09-23 00:02:03

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