Gregg Berhalter has little choice but to shake up his USMNT side following Thursday’s 1-0 defeat of Ecuador in an international friendly.
[ MORE: USMNT-Chile preview ]
Weston McKennie is injured and Tyler Adams has headed back to RB Leipzig to kickstart the changes for the manager, who is 3-0 without conceding a goal in his short tenure as USMNT boss.
It’s a safe bet to say we’ll see Nick Lima in Adams’ role, the Quakes defender getting that treatment in January and doing well with it.
As for McKennie, it’s difficult to imagine this won’t be a spot for LA Galaxy man Sebastian Lletget to spread his wings against a tough and tested La Roja midfield.
Will Sean Johnson get another cap against Chile? The New York City FC goalkeeper kept a clean sheet against Ecuador, but this could be a day for Club Brugge’s Ethan Horvath (especially with Jesse Gonzalez starting for FC Dallas at the weekend before returning to camp).
We see this going one of two ways: a small batch of changes but plenty of Berhalter’s mainstays starting, or nearly every starter short of John Brooks and Christian Pulisic changing places with someone on the bench.
Will Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola reprise their wing roles around Gyasi Zardes, or is it a chance for DeAndre Yedlin and Corey Baird to work with LAFC’s Christian Ramirez? Is Wil Trapp still Berhalter’s preferred guy at holding mid, or will Michael Bradley get a start against Vidal and Aranguiz (presuming that they start)?
Lima — Long — Brooks — Ream
Roldan — Trapp
Arriola — Zardes — Morris
Lots of changes
Lima — Brooks — Miazga — Lovitz
Lletget — Bradley
Yedlin — Ramirez — Baird
Lima — Miazga — Brooks — Ream
Lletget — Bradley
Yedlin — Morris — Arriola
While most of the reviews from the U.S. men’s national team’s 1-0 victory over Ecuador were hugely positive, one undeniable negative stood out: Weston McKennie’s badly sprained ankle.
[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT’s 1-0 victory over Ecuador ]
The 20-year-old midfielder suffered what U.S. Soccer called a “moderate to high degree left ankle sprain,” though Schalke said it was a “a ruptured ankle ligament.” It was already abundantly clear that McKennie wouldn’t be available for Tuesday’s clash with Chile, but now his departure is official.
With fellow youngster Tyler Adams having already departed camp on Friday, we can now begin counting down the days until the June international window, when we’ll get our next look at the “first team” under the new leadership of Gregg Berhalter. RB Leipzig and U.S. Soccer had reached an agreement on Adams’ involvement before he reported for camp.
Berhalter’s squad now stands at 22 players after no replacements were added for neither Adams nor McKennie, nor FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.
Weston McKennie is set to miss a significant chunk of Schalke’s impending relegation battle after the 20-year-old midfielder badly rolled his ankle during the U.S. men’s national team’s victory over Ecuador on Thursday, the Bundesliga club revealed on Friday.
[ MORE: USMNT star Tyler Adams leaves camp to return to RB Leipzig ]
McKennie was forced off in the 68th minute, not long after he went up for an aerial challenge and landed on the outside of his left foot, causing to the ankle to violently roll over.
From Schalke’s official statement:
“The U.S. (men’s) national team confirmed to Schalke that he hasn’t broken anything, but it looks like he has bruised the bone and damaged a ligament. He will soon see a foot specialist in the U.S. to determine the exact nature of the injury.”
While Schalke didn’t provide an estimated timeframe for McKennie’s return, Tottenham Hotspur and England forward Harry Kane has suffered a series of ankle injuries quite similar to that of McKennie over the past two or three seasons. Kane has generally been out of action for 6-10 weeks, with an additional 2-4 weeks of live action typically required to regain his full form and fitness. For USMNT purposes, the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on June 15, 12 weeks from today.
Schalke currently sit 15th in the Bundesliga, three points and one spot clear of the relegation playoff spot, with eight games left to play.
Schalke and USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie limped off the pitch during the second half of a friendly against Ecuador on Thursday in Florida.
McKennie appeared to twist his ankle shortly after being called for a foul in the match, which stood 0-0 at the time.
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He left the match with trainer help, and was eventually carted to the bench while seated on a stretcher.
A key piece of the program’s future, the 20-year-old midfielder has been a utility knife in the Bundesliga, playing everywhere from right back to left mid.
Only six players have played more league minutes for Schalke than McKennie, who earned his eighth cap on Thursday.
So now that the match preview is out of the way, who will Gregg Berhalter choose for his Starting XI against Ecuador on Thursday in Florida?
There are some easy choices. We know Christian Pulisic is going to start at attacking center midfield, and it would be stunning if John Brooks isn’t the starting center back.
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Given that Berhalter has labeled Tyler Adams a right back and DeAndre Yedlin a winger while also calling in a less-than-ideal batch of forwards, we can pretty sure he’s going to opt for old pal Gyasi Zardes up top.
But will Zardes be alone, or paired with another striker? Is Tim Ream going to be a left back who sits as a center back when the U.S. has the ball and Adams pushes into the midfield? Will Yedlin start at wing?
Here are a couple of options Berhalter could use on Thursday:
Adams — Brooks — Miazga — Lovitz
Bradley — McKennie
Yedlin — Pulisic — Arriola
Adams — Brooks — Miazga — Ream
McKennie — Lletget
Zardes — Morris