Top Stories

Long eager to continue making claim in USMNT center back corps


The U.S. Men’s National Team center back pair remains up for grabs in a busy 2021 year and Aaron Long is eager to continue making his claim for one of those starting spots in Gregg Berhalter’s squad.

Long is one of three MLS-based players called in for March friendlies against both Jamaica and Northern Ireland, which kicks off Thursday in Austria. The New York Red Bulls center back has become a regular performer since Berhalter took over in 2019 and has continued to remain as one of the top center back options in MLS and the USMNT pool.

With a new opportunity in front of him this week, Long’s goals remain the same at the international level.

“For me I don’t think anything has changed in the way I approach camps, I come in with the same intensity and the same drive, and just try to prove myself to the coaching staff,” Long said in a conference call Monday. “In terms of the competition and center backs here, there’s so many great players in that position, young players, old players. So I’m just trying to make my claim every time I’m here.”

Long broke onto the scene of the USMNT in 2018 under then-interim head coach Dave Sarachan and has remained in Berhalter’s plans since his first game in charge in January 2019. The 28-year-old has made 17 of his 19 USMNT appearances under Berhalter, featuring in both the Concacaf Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League.

Long’s defensive ability and leadership on and off the field has made him a key player in the USMNT squad over the past two years, traits he hopes to continue with new faces in the mix.

“I am a veteran now and I am one of the older guys, so if there are questions that the young guys have, I’m definitely accessible,” Long said. “And especially with guys in my position, if they’re new to the camps, or they’re just getting started with us, I’m always talking, I’m always in their ear. I just think that the more we can all get on the same page, the better it is for a whole group. So yeah, I can definitely be one of those guys that can lend an ear and sometimes some advice if need be.”

Long, like many other players in the current squad, is trying to grab a starting role ahead of three different competitions for the USMNT. John Brooks remains the No. 1 option at center back after another strong season abroad, but Long is pushing to earn a spot next to the Wolfsburg defender.

“So looking forward to seeing John definitely,” Long said. “He’s amazing, he’s so good on the ball. I’d love to tell people about how good his left foot is. He’s truly a talent. I’m looking forward to getting to talk to him again and just keep building on these relationships that I have with these guys here.”

Long will soon be back with the Red Bulls ahead of the start of the 2021 MLS season, but will still hope to get several more call-ins this year. The USMNT is scheduled to take part in the Gold Cup, Nations League Final Four, and World Cup Qualifying this year, all competitions that they will be eager to deliver victories in.

While the friendlies against Jamaica and Northern Ireland will be another training exercise for now, its valuable experience towards the long-term plans in 2021.

“I think the mindset coming into this camp is we’re all looking at “the now” and we want to get to good results during this camp,” Long said. “But we know that this is a huge year for us. And everything that we’re doing right now is prepping us for Nations league. It’s prepping us for Gold Cup, and then most importantly, it’s prepping us for World Cup qualifiers, which is the overall end goal. So that’s in our mind every day. We don’t go a training session or a game without knowing that that’s the end goal.”




  1. Long has a place in the USMNT player pool, it just might not be with the Starting XI (or possibly even the top 23).
    Over the last 2+ years we’ve basically been fed a steady diet of Brooks, Ream, Long, Miazga, & Zimmerman. These 5 CBs have logged the VAST majority of the available minutes for the USMNT. I think everyone agrees that Ream is past it and Miazga & Zimmerman have been less than stellar.
    Of the other CB Options (Richards, McKenzie, EPB, CCV, Robinson), none has been given a real opportunity. There is clearly a need to try the younger options and give them a run of games. Berhaulter has delayed integrating these players to the point where there is almost no opportunity other than this years Gold Cup to give these players a chance to overtake the incumbents.
    Unfortunately I don’t think Gregg will change his approach. He’ll keep calling & using Ream, Long, & Zimmerman to the detriment of the program.

  2. I wonder if the relatively poor performance by Long for the Red Bullscompared to earlier is due to the absence of Adams. I don’t think you can discount the degree to which defensive mids can either help or hurt the performance of the back 4.

    • i think part of the problem is that US soccer fans follow around club form on a weekly basis like roller coasters — like that defines him — and ignore that in his last 5 US games — all starts — we have 5 wins, 4 shutouts, 1 GA, 0.2 GAA. if you go back through the cycle it’s a lot of that. continuing to present day. at which point so what about NYRB. this is like the french philosopher joke where we know it works in pratice but does it work in theory?

      I am open to trialing new people like Richards or Glad or bringing back CCV or EPB, but Miazga and Brooks have played a ton this cycle and have the vast majority of our losses and nights where we allow 2+ goals. I care about that more than where they draw their paycheck.

      • Although his form dropped last season when we didn’t have NT matches, so we don’t have much sample to compare other than the TnT and El Salvador matches which were not serious tests of anyone. I do think having seen Red Bull’s play last year the loss of several regulars made Long look worse not just Adams. He certainly still deserves call ups and has a place in the conversation.

      • sorry, bull, he started uruguay, the jamaica semi, the canada clincher, costa rica twice, peru, ecuador. all wins or ties. even from the last 5 games canada was one of them. it was not all blowing out the school of the blind. people can see the game logs. such a silly misleading argument.

    • he also has 1G 2A in his past 5 games and 3 total goals for the cycle. i keep being told how someone else is slicker on the ball and makes for better offense. they play, we allow goals and lose. long plays, we generally win, and he’s the most productive back of the bunch. so much vague hokum. put me numbers on the scoresheet or it’s fake. eg Robinson’s last assist was 9/18. brooks’ last goal or assist was 2016. Miazga has 1 career assist. Ream has 1 assist in years. Dest has 1 assist so far. we have theoretical offense confused with actual.

    • IV you specifically mentioned his last 5 matches they are:
      Trinidad 7-0
      El Salvador 6-0
      Costa Rica 1-0
      Cuba 4-0
      Canada 4-1
      I’m not really sure why you are arguing with me since I agreed with you he should still be called in. Another fun stat is that Long has also started our last four losses. That’s why in a team sport with 11-16 players playing every game it’s hard to just go off of wins and losses. Long could have played well in losses or poorly in wins it doesn’t tell the whole story.

  3. i’d like to see glad and richards get a chance but statswide long is way ahead of ream, brooks, and miazga. we’d do well if the position was opened up to competition instead of driven by assumption.

    • I think you are over valuing Glad’s performance against youth competition. When he plays in MLS he is not very good. Let’s see how he does in the next two matches.

      • the difference here is you make up your mind before a ball is kicked. i am not overvaluing the resume because my theory is throw him on the field and assess what happens. you’re the one making the resume pivotal. i’m the one who is like let’s play games and see how they actually go.

        fwiw one of the best CBs by stats for the US is CCV and he disappeared. what has happened here is a trade off where people who can defend get run off or minimized — at a position generally about marking — traded off for people who can’t mark on strained theories about their offense.

    • I’m looking at how he plays against International level competition, CR and DR were not playing International full NT level players. I see how he plays typically against MLS level forwards and it’s average. As I said let’s see how he does as the OQ continues. If does well against JJ Macias then he’s in the conversation.


Leave a Comment