U.S. Soccer has confirmed the story that came out of its camp in Nashville today that striker Juan Agudelo has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee. That’s bad news on several fronts.
First, this could jeopardize the young striker’s chances of going to London. Even if he recovers and gets healthy in time for this summer, there’s this other matter, all the reasons I outlined earlier today.
Teal Bunbury will replace Agudelo in the lineup tonight at LP Field, but he’s just not the same player. Bunbury gets a lot of his goals from pure athletic ability; there’s plenty of value in that.
On the other hand, being a central striker in a 4-3-3 can be demanding. The man stationed centrally in this arrangement needs to know when to be near goal and when to move back into midfield to link with his attacking midfielder (in the case of this team, Joe Corona). There’s a lot of timing and instinct involved, and at this point of his career Agudelo seems to have a better sense of where to be and when to be there.
U.S. Soccer says they will not request a replacement for the tournament.
(Corrected update: U.S. Soccer officials alerted me that tournament rules do not allow teams to replace a player on the roster unless they fall below 18.)
It probably won’t change things tonight against Canada, or perhaps even Monday against El Salvador. But a critical, “all in” semifinal is just around the corner, next week in Kansas City, more than likely against Honduras. Caleb Porter’s under-23s could definitely miss Agudelo’s ability, not to mention the depth at striker, in that one.
On the other side, this could prove meaningful for Terrence Boyd, the German-American who was recently capped by Jurgen Klinsmann’s full national team. We were probably going to see Boyd at some point, but his role has surely just increased.
By the way, the live stream is here if you don’t have Universal Sports, or mun2.