The United States has been struck by the injury bug ahead of the critical March World Cup qualifiers that will decide the country’s fate for the 2022 World Cup.
A host of important players have been struck down with injuries in recent weeks, as head coach Gregg Berhalter will have headaches looking to replace contributors at various key positions.
At least three starters from the last international break were left off the roster, with Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, and Matt Turner all sidelined for the upcoming three critical matches. There are also others with a more questionable status, as injuries may either see players withdraw from contention late or have minutes reduced.
Here is an updated list of all key USMNT internationals currently struggling with injury problems, either sidelined or with a reduced ability to compete.
Weston McKennie (foot)
The 23-year-old midfielder was injured on Champions League duty with Juventus, suffering a broken metatarsal against Villarreal in the Round of 16 first leg. He went down under a heavy tackle by Pervis Estupinan in the 81st minute that caught his foot awkwardly.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri confirmed that McKennie would miss the remainder of the club regular season, ruling him out for the USMNT March qualifiers plus another couple of months.
Brenden Aaronson (knee)
One of the most recent additions to the list, Brenden Aaronson was withdrawn from the RB Salzburg starting lineup just prior to the March 20 Austrian Bundesliga match against Wolfsberg.
— FC Red Bull Salzburg EN (@FCRBS_en) March 20, 2022
It’s unknown what the severity of the injury is, but obviously his removal from the starting lineup is concerning. According to a report by Meg Swanick, shared by a number of prominent journalists in the United States, the injury is enough to keep Aaronson from traveling to take part in the international window.
From a source: Brenden Aaronson’s injury will prevent him from traveling to play with the US for #WCQ.
— Meg Swanick (@Meg_Swanick) March 20, 2022
Gio Reyna (hamstring)
Gio Reyna has missed nearly the entire club season with a hamstring injury that will not go away. The injury was initially suffered on international duty, withdrawn late in the 0-0 draw with El Salvador that began the competition back in early September.
The 19-year-old has attempted numerous comebacks since, with many falling short and seeing Reyna return to the trainer’s room. In February, Reyna earned his first start since August, but only made it 29 minutes before he was brought off the field in tears.
He has finally returned to the field successfully, but both his club team Borussia Dortmund and international side wish to ease him back to competition for fear of another setback. Reyna has had a pair of substitute appearances in Bundesliga play in the past week, and has another chance on Saturday against Koln.
Berhalter admitted he will monitor Reyna’s minutes with the international squad, saying, “I had a good call with Dortmund today, with the coach at Dortmund and planning out his usage, how much we can use [Reyna].
“The important thing is us qualifying to the World Cup, but secondly, it’s Gio returning healthy to his club. And we’re mindful of his load, the work that he’s done the last couple of weeks, and we’re going to adjust accordingly.”
Sergino Dest (hamstring)
Another late injury prior to World Cup qualifying, Sergino Dest was taken off late against Galatasaray in the Europa League with a hamstring injury. The injury occurred just hours before the USMNT roster release for the March qualifiers, so Dest was initially included, but was replaced in short order by George Bello.
Dest’s recovery time is unknown, but hamstring injuries usually require at least two weeks off the field, with some seeing a 4-6 week recovery time depending on severity.
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 17, 2022
Dest’s injury was bad enough that he was seen being carried piggyback-style by Barcelona teammate Gavi back at the team hotel after the match.
— Toni Juanmartí (@tjuanmarti) March 17, 2022
Matt Turner (ankle)
The starting goalkeeper for nine of the 11 USMNT World Cup qualifiers this cycle, Matt Turner went down with a sprained ankle in New England Revolution preseason training.
His club manager Bruce Arena was non-specific regarding Turner’s timetable for a recovery, saying Turner would need “a few more weeks” when speaking in early March. However, the injury was significant enough that Berhalter left Turner off the USMNT roster for March qualifiers, replaced by Ethan Horvath.
As a result of the injury, Turner, who has earned a move to Arsenal this coming summer, has not yet appeared for the Revs in the young 2022 MLS season.
Chris Richards (foot)
Richards, like Reyna, was injured on international duty. The 21-year-old defender was injured late in the 2-0 loss to Canada in the previous window, forced off the field before full-time leaving the U.S. down to 10 men having already used all its substitutes. After the match, Berhalter admitted fears that the foot was broken, but later reports seemed to indicate it was not that severe.
Hoffenheim & #USMNT defender Chris Richards will stay with his national team for treatment in the short term. The good news for all parties is it’s a bruised foot & not a broken bone. Richards nevertheless won’t be able to play for the Kraichgauer against Mainz this weekend.
— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) February 1, 2022
Nevertheless, Richards has not featured for Hoffenheim since, missing seven Bundesliga matches as a result of the injury. He was not included on the March international roster, and no timetable for his return has been given. However, having already missed nearly two months of action, it would track that Richards should be able to return soon.