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USMNT injury crisis rearing its ugly head before World Cup

USMNT injury crisis

On May 7, Miles Robinson went down with an injury that required a stretcher for the center back.

Testing in the following days confirmed that the USMNT and Atlanta United defender ruptured his Achilles tendon. His surgery on Monday, May 9, all but confirmed his absence from the World Cup in Qatar set for November and December.

Robinson is not officially out of the World Cup. However, despite the World Cup remaining more than six months away, injuries to the Achilles tendon require extended time off. Notable players to rupture their Achilles are David Beckham in 2010 and Laurent Koscielny in 2018. Both players missed the World Cup due to their injuries.

On the bright side, Miles Robinson should return to action eventually. Houston Methodist Hospital released a report in 2020 stating that after recovery, level of play is generally the same. However, it does often mean careers are shorter. A hammer blow considering Miles Robinson is just 25 and already a promising MLS product.

In the short-term, Robinson’s injury accentuates a glaring problem for Gregg Berhalter. The USMNT injury crisis is nothing new, but it affects the side’s best and most consistent players.

USMNT injury crisis

On average, most U.S. soccer supporters point to Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams as the best and most essential players for the side. Pulisic, McKennie and Reyna all missed extended time during World Cup Qualifying due to injury. Plus, Tyler Adams has a lingering back issue that caused him to miss some training with RB Leipzig.

This injury plague is something that forced Gregg Berhalter to call on the less-frequent names to step up when called upon. That could be a silver lining. Of course, during World Cup Qualifying, Robinson made 11 starts for the US during its 14 games in the Octagonal. Many of those came alongside Walker Zimmerman. The two played a key role both offensively and defensively for the side.

However, this USMNT injury crisis expands well beyond just Miles Robinson. Moreover, it is not just any one position, it is spread wide.

Holes defensively

Starting in goal, Matt Turner and Zack Steffen both suffered injuries in 2022 alone. Both should be healthy coming into the World Cup. However, match fitness could be an issue. Certainly, it is not as much of an issue for goalkeepers. However, with the pair likely being backups for major English sides, they could be out of form.

Defensively, Miles Robinson’s injury is perhaps the biggest gut punch for USMNT supporters to date. The chemistry he developed with Walker Zimmerman provided something of a reliable pair at the back. Considering John Brooks’ struggles for both club and country, the likely replacement is Chris Richards. Even then, the Hoffenheim defender suffered a muscle tendon injury in his right thigh just after coming back from a separate injury to his ankle picked up during World Cup Qualifying.

Sergiño Dest’s injury concerns also raise some eyebrows. Recently,  The wing-back is far from perfect. Still, he is only 21 and playing for Barcelona. His hamstring injury against Rayo Vallecano put an end to his season. It also raised doubt for his availability come the June camp for the USMNT. With something to prove, the U.S. remains weak at the fullback position. Perhaps, Dest’s injury came at the right time. It allows ample time to heal without rushing back into play at Camp Nou.

Other major injuries

Dest, along with players like Brenden Aaronson, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and plenty more USMNT representatives play in Europe. With the aforementioned players having injuries sometime throughout the past six months, the upcoming offseason is a time to recuperate.

For Gregg Berhalter, these players are locks to be on the roster to travel to Qatar come November 2022. As stated previously, the fact that the World Cup is not in the summer for the first time could actually work to the side’s benefit. The growing USMNT injury crisis would be a major red flag had the tournament scheduled for June and July, as is tradition.

Weston McKennie could return to Juventus before its season ends. The only thing the Old Lady has to play for this season is the Coppa Italia Final against Inter. Unlikely to be fit for that game, it would be smart for McKennie to wait out the season and get fully fit.

This does not even include the massively unfortunate Gio Reyna, who seems to get injured each time he laces up for Borussia Dortmund. His latest hit likely takes him out of the upcoming June camp. It already canceled the remainder of his season in Germany.

The summer friendlies scheduled by the USMNT are meant to be tune-ups ahead of the World Cup. However, they may serve the side better if the players are given time to return to full fitness.

The World Cup this year is in the middle of the club season the many of the USMNT players. On average, in-game time should not be as much of an issue as it is ahead of a standard World Cup. However, the one-week break between club season and the World Cup means no refreshing time.

PHOTO: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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