The U.S. Men’s National Team will be without one its rising stars for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Tyler Adams’ groin injury has forced him to withdraw from the team, allowing Gregg Berhalter to call in Reggie Cannon in his place. Adams’ absence leaves the team with one less versatile piece for the tournament, after expecting to have him available in Berhalter’s first competition as head coach.
Cannon and Nick Lima are now the options at right back for the Gold Cup, with both previously earning minutes under Berhalter this year. They both may not bring the versatility like Adams did, but it’s something that team has to get over before its June 18th opener against Guyana.
“It’s one of those things that you can’t control,” Berhalter said after training on Wednesday. “We bring Reggie Cannon into camp and we move on. Obviously Tyler’s a great talent, a good player, we would’ve loved to have him but we don’t. We have to move on.”
“Tyler has a unique skill set,” Berhalter said. “He is versatile, he can play wide or inside. He’s a great talent. Reggie has a different skill set, he plays wide, has speed and gets good crosses into the box. He’s a dynamic defender so they both bring different traits to the table.”
After being beaten by both Jamaica and Venezuela this month in friendlies, the pressure is on Berhalter to have a positive showing this summer. A 1-0 loss to the Reggae Boyz saw the team lack offensive chances, while a 3-0 thumping to Venezuela saw the defense picked apart.
The positive news is that several players have been able to recover from injuries and get themselves ready for meaningful matches. Aaron Long, Jozy Altidore, and Jordan Morris both featured against Venezuela after respective injuries picked up in MLS play. Playmaking midfielder Christian Pulisic should be ready to go after being rested against La Vinotinto.
“I think we’re making a lot of progress in that area,” Berhalter said. “The game against Venezuela allowed us to get guys fitness and get to where we want the players to be physically. We will be a little short with some guys but again that’s life and we just have to keep pushing on.”
“Five guys came in with hamstring injuries, MLS guys have been a little fatigued after playing every week and sometimes twice a week,” Berhalter said. “We have guys that have been on vacation so we’re trying to get them back to speed. The goal of our first camp was to get guys back physically and on the same page with what we wanted to do. We’re going to use the rest of this week to do that.”
As for Cannon, it’s another shot to represent his country after continuing to impress as one of MLS’ best right-backs. The 21-year-old made his USMNT debut last October under then head coach Dave Sarachan, but has yet to play a minute under Berhalter this calendar year.
Like Lima, Cannon brings speed and the ability to provide opportunities to the mix. Cannon hasn’t played in the hybrid midfielder role that Berhalter has used with Adams, but it’s a task that he isn’t afraid to try in order to get onto the field.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to represent your nation in a competition like the Gold Cup,” Cannon said. “It’s football, sometimes things happen and unfortunately Tyler won’t be here with us.”
“It’s something I feel that I have been working on in my game, stepping into that midfield role,” Cannon said. “I’ve been working on that role since January camp and it was tough for me to adapt to it. I think Gregg has given me that confidence to play that position if need be and we’ll see what happens when the games come.”