It looked like a major piece of the U.S. National Team future was finally back, healthy and ready to go.
And then he wasn’t.
Timothy Weah returned from a six-month absence but lasted just 10 minutes before succumbing to another hamstring injury this past weekend, deepening what is already a troubling situation for the USMNT.
Several key players have missed valuable club time of late, causing worry for fans who want to see their players in good form through the club season before the start of 2022 World Cup qualifying later this summer.
Weah is far from the only young and talented American who has been absent from club matches of late. Christian Pulisic, who had finally begun to hit his stride at Chelsea, has been out since early November with a groin problem and suffered a setback two weeks ago. Tyler Adams was felled by a calf injury after only recently returning from his frustrating groin injury. Michael Bradley is down four months after ankle surgery that suspiciously cropped up two months after the MLS Cup final. Paul Arriola just went down with a serious knee injury, believed to be a torn ACL, the same injury that just saw Eric Lichaj end his season early. Duane Holmes is out “several weeks” with ankle injury, the same problem that has Matt Miazga is out for a “significant amount of time.” Paxton Pomykal went under the knife for the third time in three years this past October and still hasn’t recovered, and his FC Dallas teammate Brandon Servania has also missed time this preseason. Fortuna Dusseldorf sent Zack Steffen back to Manchester last week for further testing on a troublesome knee.
What’s worse is these are not older players who you’d expect to be struggling with injuries, nor are they players like John Brooks who have been previously established as injury prone. These are young players or those contributing well at the club level who have ended up all on the shelf at the same time. Guys Pulisic, Weah, Adams Steffen, and Pomykal who are the cornerstone of the next USMNT generation. Guys like Lichaj and Holmes who are pushing for a spot on the roster with excellent form at the club level. Guys like Bradley who, while 32 years old, has been an iron horse throughout their careers. Guys like Miazga, and Arriola who have been regular contributors for some time now and could use a boost at the club level to push them to the next tier of importance on the international stage.
The USMNT reconvenes in March for friendlies against the Netherlands and Wales, and while the Olympics (if they qualify) aren’t until the summer and CONCACAF doesn’t begin 2022 World Cup qualifying until early September, club form going into those competitions are incredibly important, especially for young players still developing and those looking to break into the squad. It would follow that many of the aforementioned youngsters would be in the mix for the Olympic squad. These injuries only serve to get in the way.