A recent rash of injuries (and one significant COVID-19 infection) have threatened to put a considerable dent in Gregg Berhalter’s roster options ahead of September’s World Cup qualifiers, and will provide a good test to the unprecedented depth in the U.S. men’s national team player pool.
Christian Pulisic’s positive COVID-19 status has left his availability for the USMNT’s opening qualifier against El Salvador on September 2 in question, but he isn’t alone among American players who are either already set to miss out due to injury, and those who are working to recover in time.
Here is a closer look at the recent injuries/illnesses that could keep some USMNT players out of September’s qualifiers:
After testing positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday, Pulisic will be cutting it close to be available for the September 2 qualifier against El Salvador. A more reasonable scenario would be to have him miss that opening qualifier and focus on being ready for the September 5 home qualifier against Canada in Nashville.
A recent hamstring injury suffered with the Columbus Crew is set to keep Zardes for 2-4 weeks. That timetable would keep Zardes out of the September qualifiers, a disappointing development after his promising showing at the Gold Cup.
The Fulham defender left his team’s recent match in the first half after a painful fall. There is no update on his injury status as of Monday, but if he isn’t included when the USMNT roster is announced later this week, that will be why. Ream has been in excellent for for Fulham at the start of their season.
A hamstring injury suffered with D.C. United during last week’s loss to New England has sidelined Arriola, who missed his team’s loss to Atlanta United. The injury isn’t expected to be a long-term one though, so he could theoretically still recover in time to be part of the USMNT camp.
Whether Dike is legitimately injured, or being stashed ahead of a loan/transfer to Europe, what is clear is that Dike has not played in almost a month (not since the Gold Cup semifinal against Qatar). Will Berhalter call him into the camp when he hasn’t been playing games?
Though he was a longshot to be included for World Cup qualifying in September even if healthy, Altidore fell off the list completely after undergoing foot surgery that will sideline him for six weeks. The 31-year-old looks less and less likely to play his way back into the USMNT picture, especially considering how many promising young strikers there are in the pipeline at the moment.
An ankle injury has caused Musah to miss the start of Valencia’s La Liga campaign, and while he is working to recover, he failed to make the bench for Valencia’s last game. Musah suffered the injury a month ago during Valencia’s preseason, and it’s tough to see him being match-fit enough to play in September qualifiers.