Last week, a sudden glut of injuries was the biggest storyline concerning the United States men’s national team. And with word coming down in recent days that a trio of sure-fire starters (Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Paul Arriola) would all miss more time than originally anticipated because of their various ailments, this one could’ve been more of the same.
Fortunately for USMNT fans, the bad news — which is significant, to be sure — doesn’t quite overshadow the good in this edition of Stock Watch, thanks to outstanding performances by a pair of players who promise to be a big part of the U.S. program in 2020. This week, we’ll begin with them.
USMNT players trending up
M Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
The 17-year-old became the youngest American to appear in the Champions League last week when he came on in the second half of BVB’s round of 16 first leg against Paris Saint-Germain. He then promptly became the youngest to register an assist when he set up Erling Haaland’s latest game-winner:
— Yahoo Soccer (@FCYahoo) February 18, 2020
Takeaway: Considered one of the top prospects in the global game, a report from The Athletic Monday suggested that England is hoping to convince Reyna, who was born in Sunderland while his father was playing in the Premier League, to represent the Three Lions. That’s not going to happen — if the son of two-time USMNT World Cup captain Claudio is going to play for a country other than the U.S., it’ll be Argentina. Still, it can’t hurt the odds of Berhalter handing Reyna a start next month, something he’s yet to receive in eight appearances with Dortmund’s first team.
M/F Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (MLS)
After a breakout 2019 for club and country, Morris got his 2020 season off to a blazing start last week with a goal and an assist in Seattle’s 2-2 CONCACAF Champions League draw at Honduran side Olimpia:
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) February 21, 2020
Takeaway: Morris will become even more valuable to the USMNT this year with fellow winger Paul Arriola out long-term.
D John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany)
Brooks kept his spot next to Robin Knoche in the heart of Wolfsburg’s back line for the third consecutive match following a three-game benching.
Takeaway: We won’t know if Brooks has won his job back permanently until Marin Pongracic’s red card suspension ends March 2. But it sure doesn’t hurt that Wolfsburg has won each of its last three outings with Brooks patrolling the field.
D Erik Palmer-Brown, Austria Wien (Austria)
With U.S. under-23 coach Jason Kreis in the house on Sunday, the 22-year-old center back’s late goal gave Wien a 2-2 draw at Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg.
Takeaway: The Manchester City loanee could be a key for Kreis during next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament, especially if Atlanta United refuses to release Miles Robinson for the event.
USMNT players trending down
M/F Paul Arriola, D.C. United (MLS)
Already set to be sidelined until the summer with a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, D.C. United announced on Saturday that Arriola would undergo a full ACL construction and miss the entire 2020 season as a result.
Takeaway: Barring a faster-than-expected recovery, the 25-year-old will also miss the start of World Cup qualifying — a huge blow for the U.S. Arriola is one of only a handful of veterans who has actually experienced playing on the road in CONCACAF, and his combative two-way game is made for those matches, which are typically won on heart and fight as much as skill.
M/F Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England)
Out since Jan.1 because of a muscle injury, Blues manager Frank Lampard said Friday that there is no timetable for the 21-year-old’s return.
Takeaway: Pulisic continued absence is now officially worrying. He’ll miss Chelsea’s Champions League round of 16 round opener Tuesday against Bayern Munich, and even if he returns to action before next month’s international window, the club could be reluctant to release him given the months-long layoff.
D Antonee Robinson, Wigan (England)
An undisclosed injury has prevented the lightning-quick left back from playing for second-tier Wigan since his transfer to Italian titan AC Milan fell through — a span of last five league games.
Takeaway: Robinson, 22, had played every minute of the season for the Latics and was a shoo-in for international duty in March, either with the U-23s or (more likely) the senior team, which he played for just once in 2019. He could still be included, but the clock is ticking.
D/M Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (Germany)
Initially, Adams was only supposed to miss two games: last weekend’s Bundesliga tangle with Werder Bremen and the midweek Champions League trip to Tottenham. But the 21-year-old didn’t dress for Saturday’s 5-0 rout of Schalke.
Takeaway: It’s better to wait an extra game or two rather than rush Adams back and risk a longer layoff, which is what happened with the groin injury that forced him to miss the end of last season and first half of this one. Still, the hope is that the New Yorker is fit for the March 10 return match against Spurs.
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