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Aaron Long to miss rest of 2021 after surgery for torn Achilles

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Aaron Long will miss the rest of 2021 after undergoing surgery on Tuesday to repair the torn Achilles he suffered on Saturday in the New York Red Bulls loss to the Philadelphia Union.

The 28-year-old suffered the injury in the final minute of stoppage time on Saturday, as he jumped up for a challenge and suffered the injury when he went to plant his right foot and his Achilles ruptured, leaving him on the ground writhing in pain.

The injury is a devastating blow for both the Red Bulls and the U.S. Men’s National Team, which is set to compete in the Concacaf Nations League in June and will now have to do so without Long, who was projected to start in central defense alongside John Brooks.

Arguably the best one-on-one defender in the USMNT setup, Long had established himself as a regular starter under Berhalter, and wore the captain’s armband on multiple occasions. His ability to mark opposing team’s top strikers made him a good complement to Brooks, who is the superior passer, but not as quick and agile a one-on-one defender as Long.

Berhalter has several central defenders to choose from to try and replace Long, with Matt Miazga the frontrunner to start alongside Brooks. Miazga’s passing ability gives him an edge over fellow veteran Walker Zimmerman, though Miles Robinson provides a combination of sharp passing and strong one-on-one defending that makes him another good candidate to win the starting job.

Chris Richards is another contender, and widely-regarded as the future of the USMNT centerback position, but his lack of international experience might make the Nations League too early an assignment for the 21-year-old to undertake.

The injury is an even bigger blow for the Red Bulls, who will struggle to replace Long’s presence in the middle of the defense. Newly-acquired Colombian defender Andres Reyes has had a slow integration into the Red Bulls setup, and also had to overcome a recent minor injury, but Gerhard Struber will need the former Inter Miami defender to step up and give the Red Bulls more options to go along with Amro Tarek and Sean Nealis.

Long’s injury comes a year after he was the subject of multiple transfer rumors, with several English Premier League teams expressing interest in his services. The Red Bulls never received an offer they deemed worth selling their best defender though, leaving Long to wait for a potential move even as every other member of the 2018 Supporters’ Shield-winning Red Bulls defense moved on via transfers and trades.

Now Long will have to focus on his recovery and look ahead to 2022, when he will try to retain his place with the USMNT, and return to being one of the best defenders in MLS.

The Red Bulls return to action on Saturday with a road game against the New England Revolution.

Comments

    • I’m less concerned about our CB pool than I am our options at CDM if Adams is out. The CBs in the pool (or should be) for the most part have multiple years of playing experience at the same level or higher than Long. They lack international experience only because of Gregg’s decision not to bring them into camps and/or give them games.
      Miazga, Richards, CCV, EPB, M. Robinson, McKenzie are all capable replacements for Long. While many would argue there are NO capable replacements for Adams.

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      • Let me get this straight your saying your a better judge of our CB pool than a man who played 17 pro seasons (15 in Europe) and has 44 caps (2 WC) as a CB. Yeah that pretty much makes sense.

  1. achilles tear is different than a rupture, if this is a full blown rupture, yuck. Worst injury I ever suffered from a long list of injuries. Big blow, whoever ends up being called in to replace him has a key role to fill that Long had carved out nicely for himself

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  2. Didn’t look good game-time, but was really hoping we were talking something less serious. Hate to see this. Well- here’s to a quick recovery brother…. and bold moves by GB and some other guys stepping up their game.

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  3. Personally I don’t care about the NL…would it be nice to win? Yes.
    More important to me is getting our players more experience & chemistry playing together ahead of WCQ.
    I’m hoping that Richards will be given extended minutes in the upcoming games as he’s playing at the highest level of our CBs and has the most upside. Unfortunately he’s also the least experienced, so I’d like to see him fast-tracked a little to help close that experience gap.

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    • He’s been injured, Brooks also missed training this week, A Robinson has been hurt, Adams is also out. We need some training staff miracles and quickly.
      ———————————
      I think Berhalter agrees with you on gaining chemistry he just disagrees on the players whose chemistry he wants to develop. Gregg was a CB and he knows the pressures for young CBs as they adjust to the international game. Yes the level of the Bundesliga is better than 98% of Concacaf but the pressures of meaningful matches, the travel, the hostile environments are much bigger in qualifying. The loss of Long and the possible absence of Brooks may force his hand though. We know Long is out if Brooks and Adams are too, you can’t put two young in experienced CBs in there but can you afford two less than mobile CBs in Ream and Miazga?

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  4. An Achilles tear used to be the end of a career. With proper treatment and therapy he can resume his play in about a year. Given that the WC doesn’t start until November of 2022 he could conceivably be available by then if we need him.

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  5. the idea of just mindlessly running down the depth chart to ream or miazga ignores their performances. they should not be the next man up on field play. i realize people want to win NL but ream couldn’t beat canada so maybe consider that before calling that playing to win against honduras, costa rica, and mexico. it’s like watching people repeat the same dumb mentality as last cycle when we just kept alternating cameron besler omar and that short list, and no one could mark. at that point, sorry, the notion that we have to go with experience to have our best chance, is fake. cause what does recent past experience actually look like? i want a coaching willing to do a first cycle klinsi and say, i think “x” can play so i am sticking him out there. richards CCV EPB zimmermann, someone we don’t already know is this big a mess. cause starting a crap veteran is not playing to win, it’s conservatism.

    to be clear, quali is what really matters so with a few games this summer you might spend them auditioning backs who might play as opposed to re-proving the ones who can’t.

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  6. the problem is that as typical with GB the chosen few have sucked all air from the rest and so we’re left with either bad options or untested ones. ream or miazga on the one hand, the kids and CCV on the other. if he favors miazga or ream you’re talking about guys who can’t shut down canada or get to the final whistle clean with panama or northern ireland. personally i would favor the “first cycle klinsi” approach of taking big game risks on perceived exceptional talent (eg Morris and Green) as opposed to just rotely letting a poorly chosen veteran pecking order play out to the nth degree, which is how you end up with omar at CB for TnT. before i just trot out ream and miazga and take unnecessary “L”s i would give zimmermann richards CCV EPB type players a go. and i know we want to win NL but running out guys who couldn’t hold canada in the group round is not actually playing to win, it’s just conservatism for conservatism’s sake. we should look at it as a summer long trial to fill the hole before the qualifying starts. or we can just rotely run out the next disappointing veterans and be fixing this during qualifying proper when they waste our summer.

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    • Morris never played in Klinsi’s first qualification cycle. He received his first caps in friendlies. In his first 5 caps he only played more than 16 minutes once and didn’t even see the field in his first camp. In his first competitive match he didn’t see the pitch until the US was up 5-1, his other to qualifiers under Juergen he entered up 4-0 and 2-0 (in a match US only needed a draw). Morris only made 2 starts in 12 appearances for Klinsmann. He was only selected for 4 of 21 competitive matches.
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      Julian Green did not participate in the first cycle qualifying either. Qualification was finished before his first call up in 2014 in April. He had been invited to join the team for camp in March despite not being able to participate something you criticized Berhalter for doing with Alvarez and Perea. Green came off the bench in 2 of 4 matches before the WC only playing 57 minutes, didn’t play at all against Azerbaijan or Nigeria. He then sat the entire group stage only entering against Belgium when the US was down 2-0 and he was the only healthy wide player left besides Brad Davis (he probably should have went NT proven performance and selected Donovan over club form Brad Davis). Green played 94 mins in the next four in fall of 2014 before being left out of camps for all of 2015, and only making three more appearances total for Klinsmann in 2016 and 2017. Klinsmann didn’t trust Green he only played 15 minutes in 23 possible competitive matches from his first call in 2014 to Juergen’ s dismissal in 2017.
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      Juergen treated Morris and Green the exact same way Berhalter treated Richards, Dike, and McKenzie. Berhalter was even more of a risk taker starting Dest, Llanez, Aaronson, Ferreira, and Reyna in their first caps.
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      I don’t think you’re trying to be purposely deceitful you just started with a premise that Klinsmann did it different when he really operated in much the same fashion. Pulisic didn’t start until his 11th time in the 23. Imagine your outrage if Berhalter did that with Reyna.

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      • excellent post johnny, thank you. IV, geez man, I like to read your posts but you need a fact checker sometimes man

      • JohnnyRazor: Nice rebut of The Imperative Voice’s rant on GB and his factfree comparison of GB to JK. GB does a lot of things I may not agree with; for instance, his repeatedly calling Ream in. But I think he has tried new players at a rate even higher than Bradley, who, I think called in new faces at a higher rate than JK did.
        As for Ream, well, I recall Bradley starting Connor Casey against Honduras in a WC qualifying game the US had to win. Yes, old slow Connor Casey, who proceeded to score 2 goals and led the US to victory. Sometimes coaches get it right to the horror and delight of the fans.

    • Upon further study in the 2014 cycle Klinsmann did introduce Besler and Zusi after only a friendly or two but both were experienced pros. Aaronson Johansson would be the closest to just throwing a youngster into the fire playing 1 minute in only his 2nd cap during a qualifier. Joe Corona also played in a qualifier in his second cap. He played in 3 qualifiers that cycle totaling 5 mins of pt. Alan Gordon was the only guy I could find thrown directly into a qualifier, at age 31 Gordon made his debut 17 minutes of sub time and with the famous GW assist vs Antigua, he would not receive another call up for five years.
      ———————————
      JK did give first caps in qualifying to Miazga vs StV&G, Caleb Stanko both dual nationals neither were used regularly by Juergen. Nagbe received his first cap against StV&G but never started for Klinsmann in 10 appearances.
      ——————————
      To further the point in JK’s first qualifier he started an 11 that had 10 players who played in the 2010 WC with only Jermaine Jones as the non WC upper who missed with injury but would have been there. Managers look for experience and consistency when starting qualifying Klinsmann was no different than Berhalter, Arena played largely the same players as Klinsmann.

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  7. “…but not as quick an agile a one-on-one defender as Long!” Long’s change of direction and foot speed are excellent. While no player is above criticism, Long’s recovery from opposing teams thru balls, reminds of how Oneywu covered Bocanegra’s back. Long isn’t the caliber of CB those two are, but his read and react is very reminiscent! Some players only get a WC cycle to participate, this was his chance. Dam, this sux. Hopefully, he’s resilient enough to be a RBs starter again.

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    • i could bite and defend long but it’s pointless, he’s getting surgery and gone. the real point is who can competently take his place. to the extent people are wanting to do that analysis, some of the arguments anecdotally come at long without discussing whether their choice can defend worth a crap themselves. it’s more a talking point than a thoughtful analysis, which would consider the faults of the other choices. ream has no footspeed and was abused by canada in our loss. ireland abused miazga one on one for the winner. panama and northern ireland were able to find joy on miazga and ream.

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      • “I could bite and defend Long but it’s pointless”, OK is agreeing with Ives’ original compliment that Long fits well alongside Brooks. Sometimes I swear you don’t even read you just start disagreeing with people even when they agree with you.

      • What haven’t you said? What is there to defend? Long is dam good CB! After not qualifying for WC in 2018, I thought Zimmerman and/or Miazga would be starter over Long. After the friendly vs Jamaica pre-GC, Long’s worst match in a USMNT jersey, he’s been solid ever since. Long was one of GBs favs as you pointed out. No nuance, no left foot, not a good passer, not good at dribbling are some of the criticism of Long. Reality: Long cut his horns in the USL. Many criticized his game, but if someone doesn’t respect his journey from USL to USMNT, they’re a hater! If you feel the need to defend that journey, that’s all on u! …but ‘I don’t participate in nonsense!’

  8. Sucks. It can all be over in an instant in bigtime sports. The USMNT should have enough depth to fill in looking towards next year. My best to Long and his recovery.

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