A USMNT obsessive’s guide: What to care about in the new European season

This is far and away the most important issue, and one that has become so common for the US that it barely even sparks conversation anymore when someone in the projected XI goes down with one sort of knock or another.

Oh, Weston McKennie just separated his shoulder? It happens. Antonee Robinson playing through pain and maybe constantly on the verge of surgery? Makes sense. Matt Turner got freaking frostbite??? Ok no, that one was made up. But he did miss time with a still weirdly opaque foot injury this winter.

The story of qualifying was, in a lot of ways, one in which the US weren’t able to build any game-to-game rhythm, let alone window-to-window. That spate of injuries to write-them-in-pen starters was the proximate cause.

That’s not even mentioning the injuries that sidelined or slowed guys like Yunus Musah, Brenden Aaronson, Reggie Cannon, Zack Steffen, Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola and any number of others. Do you remember that in the most important game of the Ocho, Berhalter had to go all the way down to his fourth-string right back? I’ve been watching World Cup qualifying in Concacaf for 35 years and I can never, ever remember a US coach having to dig like that. I’m not sure I can remember any coach of any country in this region having to dig like that.

Now, there is a flip side. In this instance, it’s that the US got lucky with the health of Jedi and Tyler Adams – arguably the two most irreplaceable players in the pool. Jedi started 11 of 14 qualifiers, and appeared in 13, while Adams also appeared in 13, with 12 starts. The two-way stability and dynamism those guys provided while surrounded by the walking wounded was not just necessary; it was essential.

Just look at what happened to the central defense:

It was just an avalanche, one the US was lucky to survive. I am so glad we’re through with qualifying.

And here is the good news: with the exception of McKennie’s recently injured shoulder (reports are that it’ll sideline him for three weeks) and Miles Robinson’s Achilles’ (we’ll see him in 2023), the entire player pool seems to be healthy. We’re even getting Reyna preseason comps:

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