Aaron Long

Gaga Slonina, Jordan Morris in USMNT pre-World Cup training camp

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CHICAGO (AP) Chelsea-bound goalkeeper Gaga Slonina is among nine players from eliminated teams in Major League Soccer invited to fitness training by the U.S. Soccer Federation ahead of the national team’s World Cup roster announcement on Nov. 9.

Defenders Aaron Long, Shaq Moore, DeAndre Yedlin and Walker Zimmerman also were invited to the training camp that started Tuesday in Frisco, Texas, along with midfielder Cristian Roldan and forwards Paul Arriola, Jesus Ferreira and Jordan Morris

The players’ inclusion does not indicate they have earned spots on coach Gregg Berhalter’s 26-man roster. The majority of the roster is expected to be from European clubs, which have matches through Nov. 13.

 MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Slonina has never played for the national team. Matt Turner of Arsenal, Zack Steffen of Middlesbrough, Ethan Horvath of Luton and Sean Johnson of New York City have been the top four goalkeepers in the U.S. player pool. Johnson and Los Angeles midfielder Kellyn Acosta are on teams that have reached this Sunday’s MLS conference finals and hope to be in the championship game on Nov. 5.

Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez was not included.

Slonina, 18, debuted for the Chicago Fire in August 2021 and agreed this past August to a contract with Chelsea under which he was loaned to the Fire for the rest of the 2022 MLS season. Slonina missed Chicago’s last two MLS games because of a head injury and has not played a competitive match since Sept. 17.

Morris and Roldan last played on Oct. 9, Long, Moore and Zimmerman on Oct. 15, Yedlin on Oct. 17 and Arriola and Ferreira on Sunday.

Back in the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the U.S. opens against Wales on Nov. 21, plays England in a Black Friday matchup four days later and closes group play on Nov. 29 against Iran.

VIDEO: PL highlights ]

The training camp roster:

Goalkeepers: Gaga Slonina (Chicago)

Defenders: Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Shaq Moore (Nashville), DeAndre Yedlin (Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

Midfielder: Cristian Roldan (Seattle)

Forwards: Paul Arriola (Dallas), Jesus Ferreira (Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle)

USMNT vs Grenada, live! How to watch, stream, preview, lineups

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The United States men’s national team moves from friendlies to the CONCACAF Nations League on Friday when Grenada visits Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas on Friday.

The Yanks have two CNL matches in five days to catch up to the field after El Salvador and Grenada squared off twice in four days, with Grenada picking up a 2-2 draw Tuesday at home following a 3-1 loss in El Salvador on June 4.

Grenada has not won a game in 2021 or 2022, the draw with El Salvador one of just two non-losses (Gibraltar, in Gibraltar, on March 23). The Spice Boys have lost 3-0 to Charlotte FC and 1-0 to Andorra after losing to Panama, Qatar, Honduras, Montserrat, and Antigua and Barbuda dating back to June 4.

[ MORE: USMNT hub — Schedule, results, more ]

With a much tougher El Salvador away test a few days later, there are plenty of reasons to believe Gregg Berhalter might hand chances to his depth following a 0-0 draw with Uruguay and 3-0 win over Morocco.


USMNT vs Grenada: How to watch, TV, start time, live stream

Kickoff: 10pm ET Friday
All-time series leader: Grenada – 0 wins, USA – 3 wins, Draws – 0
Current FIFA rankings: USA – 15th, Grenada – 170th
TV Channel: Unimas, TUDN
Stream: ESPN+


USMNT team news, starting lineup


The Yanks have never lost to Grenada, winning 3-0 and 3-2 in 2004 and 4-0 in 2009. The expectation would normally be for a multi-goal win but the Yanks have to finish their chances, which did not happen against Uruguay,

Gregg Berhalter’s finishers have been on a bit of a feast or famine run in 2022, shut out by Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Uruguay but scoring multiple goals against Honduras, Panama, and Morocco.

The Americans are the reigning Nations League champions after a thrilling, all-timer of an extra-time win over Mexico almost exactly a year ago.

What can we learn from USMNT vs Grenada?

The biggest questions for the Yanks as they prepare for the World Cup are up top and at the back.

Miles Robinson’s achilles injury and Berhalter’s choice to leave John Brooks out of the squad means that there’s a shallower pool of center backs than ever, with Walker Zimmerman proving himself worthy of a starting spot but Chris Richards’ injury keeping him from laying claim to a spot.

Aaron Long has earned two-straight starts. The gritty New York Red Bulls stalwart is an all-hands-on-deck-and-all-heart defender who is limited as a passer. Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes) and Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic) are also in camp and whether we see one next to Zimmerman or both on the pitch versus Grenada will provide further context.

The other question is center forward. Jesus Ferreira earned chances but did not finish them against Morocco and Uruguay, but Grenada should prove an opportunity for a confidence-boost. Haji Wright and Timothy Weah would probably prefer those chances, too, although Weah is a winger for club.

While there isn’t a Brooks-level omission amongst the center forwards, Berhalter still has a pool of them not in camp: Josh Sargent, Daryl Dike, and Ricardo Pepi are the most-mentioned names of a deep group.

USMNT player ratings from 3-0 friendly win over Morocco

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The United States men’s national team began its summer with a 3-0 win over fellow World Cup entrant Morocco on Wednesday in Cincinnati.

There was a lot to like about the USMNT’s day, even including some of the big chances they allowed due to the fact that goalkeeper Matt Turner showed the goods with a number of fine saves.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USMNT vs Morocco ]

Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah showed great technique to build a couple of highlight-reel goals in the first half, while Europe-based Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), and Haji Wright (Antalyaspor) all earned their first caps.

Of course it wasn’t all all-stars for the Stars and Stripes, as the midfield had its struggles and the center forward question remains to be answered ahead of Qatar 2022.

Here are our player ratings for the USMNT players in their win over Morocco, with the base line being 6 as an average performance.


USMNT player ratings vs Morocco out of 10

Matt Turner: 9 — Again, the only question about Turner is whether he’s good enough with the ball at his feet. The incoming Arsenal goalkeeper was terrific in making several diving saves and others where he was just well-positioned to make a decent save look easy.

Antonee Robinson (Off HT): 6 — Not one of his better days, though hardly dismal; There are no doubts going forward, but teams like Morocco will test how honest he can be against better attacks.

Walker Zimmerman (Off HT): 7.5 — Picture-perfect can-opener of a pass to get Pulisic behind the Moroccan defense for the opening goal.

Aaron Long: 6.5 — Steady enough. One big shot block. A couple dicey moments but no glaring gaffes.

Reggie Cannon: 7 — Good going forward, drawing a couple of fouls and getting an assist. Some questionable moments at the back.

Tyler Adams (On 66′): 6 — Not a banner day, by any means, including one ill-advised pass that put Matt Turner under pressure.

Yunus Musah: 6 — Just okay. He’s a ball mover who moved the ball, but more than a couple of unnecessary fouls.

Brendan Aaronson (Off 72′): 7.5 — Got his goal through typical relentless running to be in the right position, and generally delivered the type of performance Gregg Berhalter expects from him.

Christian Pulisic (Off 66′): 8.5 — Electric from the opening whistle, Pulisic showed class with the ball at his feet for his assist. He also delivered when the ball was in his hands, deferring to debutant Haji Wright after winning a second-half penalty.

Timothy Weah: 8 — Man is he good when he’s going, and he was going on Wednesday.

Jesus Ferreira (Off HT): 6 — One very decent chance was also one you’d want to see finished… but Yacine Bounou is a very good goalkeeper.

Substitutes

Joe Scally (On HT): 6.5 — A promising day on the left, even if the referee awarded a weak penalty against the Gladbach man.

Haji Wright (On HT): 7 — Scored his penalty and made some solid runs. His imposing nature is unmissable. If he’s going to finally live up to the hype he acquired at a young age, that’s big big big for the U.S.

Cameron Carter-Vickers (On HT): 6 — Couple of good interceptions, caught out by a well-drifted cross.

Malik Tillman (On 66′): 6 — Didn’t have much to do. Trouble the keeper once.

Luca De La Torre (On 66′): 6.5  — Typically-steady.

Weston McKennie (On 72′): N/A — Good to see him back

Gregg Berhalter: Weah, Reyna uncertain for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers

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Midfielder Gio Reyna and forward Tim Weah remain uncertain for the United States’ next three World Cup qualifiers, which start Jan. 27 with a match against El Salvador at Columbus, Ohio.

Reyna has not played in any matches since injuring his right hamstring during the opening qualifier at El Salvador on Sept. 2. He dressed for the first time since then when Borussia Dortmund played Saturday at Eintracht Frankfurt but did not get into the match.

Weah, who scored in the 1-1 draw at Jamaica in a November qualifier, injured a thigh during training with Lille on Dec. 3, two days after his last match.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in the USA ]

“With Gio and Tim, it’s too early to tell,” coach Gregg Berhalter said Monday. “We have 14 days until they come to camp, and those 14 days will be important.”

Major League Soccer players are training at national team camp in Phoenix through Jan. 21, and several of them will travel to Columbus, where Europe-based players report Jan. 24.

Midfielder Weston McKennie and defender Miles Robinson return from one-match suspensions caused by cards. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, midfielder Tyler Adams, defenders John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin and forward Jordan Pefok carry yellow cards from the first eight qualifiers and would face a one-match suspension with an additional yellow card.

“What we’ve learned is expect the unexpected,” Berhalter said. “You never know who is going to be available to play in each game. You have to be willing to adapt.”

The U.S. plays at Canada on Jan. 30 and hosts Honduras on Feb. 2 at St. Paul, Minnesota. With six games per team left, Canada leads with 16 points, followed by the U.S. (15), Mexico and Panama (14 each), Costa Rica (nine), Jamaica (seven), El Salvador (six) and Honduras (three).

The top three teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean qualify, and the No. 4 nation faces the Oceania champion – likely New Zealand – in a playoff for another berth.

A January window for qualifiers is unusual, added only because the coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the final round by a year. MLS players and even some based in Europe are in the midst of lengthy layoffs. Midfielder Brenden Aaronson’s RB Salzburg has been off since Dec. 11.

Defender Sergino Dest has been struggling for playing time at Barcelona since Xavi Hernandez was hired as coach in November, but Berhalter sounded as if Dest’s national team position was secure.

“He’s a competitor and he’s a guy that I can see waiting for an opportunity, and when he gets his opportunity, performing well,” Berhalter said. “He’s resilient and he has the right mindset to do it. He’s been working hard. He had a little injury setback at the end of the year with his back, but he’s committed to making it work.”

Players at the training camp will have three closed-door scrimmages, a regimen aimed to get them close to 90 minutes by the end.

“Then we’ll be able to tell,” Berhalter said. “The most important thing is that we can put a team on the field that can compete at a high level, because we know that’s what World Cup qualifying games are about.”

Defender Aaron Long, recovering from a torn right Achilles tendon on May 15, is at his third straight training camp. He might not be ready for a game until the final three qualifiers in March.

“I’m not sure he’s going to get there, but hopefully he’ll be close,” Berhalter said. “Hopefully in March we’re having different conversations.”

Berhalter said there have been positive coronavirus tests among players arriving at camp.

“Fortunately, most are asymptomatic and now it’s just about a little bit of a waiting game,” he said. “But that’s our reality, and that’s what all sports teams are dealing with.”

USMNT, New York Red Bulls mainstay Aaron Long tears Achilles tendon

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There’s been a shot across the boss of Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT — let alone the New York Red Bulls — as fiery leader Aaron Long is set for a lengthy absence after tearing an Achilles tendon against Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Long, oft-linked with a move abroad, has played 140 times for the Red Bulls and has 21 caps for the United States men’s national team.

Long had captained the USMNT in three of his last five caps and his loss to the Yanks for the Gold Cup is similar to that of the Red Bulls.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Are there replacement-level players who can fill his role in terms of tackles? Yup. Are there those who can orchestrate a back line as efficiently as Long? For sure. In fact, there will be a number of players who can upgrade the team in terms of ball movement.

But Long has that fire, pride, and — for lack of a better term — competitive gumption can be terribly difficult to find in a team or program. And that stings quite a bit.

Also, that mullet was pretty remarkable, wasn’t it?

Long nearly went to West Ham in 2019 and revealed last year that he had hoped to go on loan to Red Bull Salzburg or RB Leipzig but did not have his wish granted by RBNY. Whether this puts a wrench in his future or not, we’re wishing the best for the USMNT man.

Follow @NicholasMendola