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Who steps in for the USMNT if Pulisic can’t play?


Christian Pulisic’s positive COVID-19 test is threatening to throw a wrench in the U.S. men’s national team’s preparations for September’s World Cup qualifiers, and the question now is who will Gregg Berhalter turn to if Pulisic is unavailable?

It isn’t as if Berhalter hasn’t had to deal with a Pulisic absence before. Injuries have cost Pulisic several opportunities to play with the USMNT in recent years, and has forced Berhalter to deploy other alternatives.

That practice should serve Berhalter well as he contends with the possibility of not having his most dangerous attacking weapon for the World Cup qualifying opener against El Salvador on September 2.

As things stand, Pulisic will need to go into a 10-day quarantine from the day he tested positive, which could potentially give him enough time to be cleared to travel to Nashville and join the USMNT camp in time to to be part of the travel party heading to El Salvador on September 1.

However, if there are any delays or complications, or anything that winds up ruling Pulisic out for the El Salvador match, Berhalter does have some alternatives to plug into the left forward/left wing role in his 4-3-3 setup.

Here are the leading candidates to fill in for Pulisic if he is not available to face El Salvador (or Canada, or Honduras).:

Konrad De La Fuente

The Marseille winger is off to a flying start since joining the French side via transfer from FC Barcelona. Much like Pulisic does with the USMNT, De La Fuente has been playing as a right-footed left-winger for Marseille, where his speed and ability to cut inside have made him a real threat for the Ligue 1 side.

Tim Weah

The Lille winger started the most recent match for the French champions, and featured prominently for the USMNT against Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League final. Weah is more of a right-sided option though, and Berhalter could swap Gio Reyna to the left side if he chooses to go with Weah, who has more national team experience than De La Fuente, which could be a deciding factor considering the opening match will be on the road in Central America.

Brenden Aaronson

Deployed mainly on the wing in his USMNT appearances, Aaronson operated in the left forward role in the friendly win against Costa Rica back in June, and he enjoyed a Man of the Match-worthy performance in that position. He has been starting regularly and playing well for Red Bull Salzburg, though this season he has been playing consistently in a central midfield role.

Matthew Hoppe

An impressive run playing as a left forward at the Gold Cup makes Hoppe an interesting option, though his lack of playing time to start the season at Schalke could hurt his chances. Will Berhalter bring in a player who doesn’t have World Cup qualifying experience and isn’t match fit? The fact the USMNT will have a larger-than-normal training camp squad could still let Hoppe take part, and once in camp he would have a chance to convince Berhalter he’s worth considering for Pulisic’s spot.

Paul Arriola

A player with World Cup qualifying experience who Berhalter trusts, Arriola would make plenty of sense as a starting winger down in El Salvador — after all, Arriola has started a qualifier at Azteca, so he’s battle-tested — but an injury he picked up on Wednesday could rule him out. There is no update at the moment on the severity of the injury though.

Who would you like to see get the nod if Pulisic can’t play against El Salvador? Who is an option that we should have included on this list?

Share your thoughts below?


  1. Ricardo Pepi is scoring more than any of the other players mentioned, Zardes, Weah, Aaronson, Arriola, Hoppe. Before people start talking about it is easier to score in MLS, by comparison, Aaronson scored 7 goals in 57 matches for Philadelphia, whereas Pepi had scored 9 goals in 30 games for Dallas so far this season.

    • Different positions, comparing Pepe to Aaronson. I’d be happy if Pepi is invited I think he deserves it even without his dual national panic, but you can’t compare a W/AM numbers with a CF.

  2. 1. Aaronson
    2. Hope
    3. Konrad
    4. Weah
    5. Arriola

    In that order, should have put a poll wouldve been interesting to see.

  3. A positive sign of the times that this doesn’t feel like a disaster, our star players likely to miss at least the first WCQ match… I think any of Ives top 3 choices would be more than adequate for the first match, and the others could be made to fit as well. For me Aaronson is the most in-form player that is not a projected starter, but Konrad is maybe a better fit positionally if it is the left forward spot we’re talking about. Increased depth is great because it gives more options. As another poster stated, we could start Konrad at left forward, and Aaronson centrally instead of Lletget to get our most talented and in-form guys on the field together.

  4. Berhalter can mess El Salvador up by going with Dest. That solves two problems: holding the ball in the final third and relieves Dest of major defensive responsibilities. Plus, you can have Robinson and Cannon as your fullbacks. With Zardes out, you need to hold the ball in the final third. an attacking trident of Dest, Pefok or Sargent and Reyna with Mckinne/Lleget/Adams in the midfield will win the game for the U. S. Remember, El Salvador barely lost to Mexico and this game will be played like a World Cup final for El Salvador to get at least a tie out of this.

  5. I feel like Hoppe playing in the Gold Cup was a mistake. While he pretty good, I don’t seem him having much of a future in the team as a left winger. He might of been better off just having a preseason and starting well at Schalke. I guess it showed he’s versatile but to what end really?

    • I think the Gold Cup showed Hoppe is more dangerous as a winger than just about everyone in our pool. I like him and Aaronson now as the top candidates to start if Reyna tucks inside and think they’re ahead of Weah, Arriola, KDLF and others.

    • i am ambivalent as well. when i looked up hoppe’s schalke goals before the summer they struck me as winger goals. played into space behind defenses. i suggested he was maybe a winger. have said the same thing on sargent. i guess berhalter took me up on hoppe. but i see now where we have a lot of winger talent so it makes it harder for him to play. and with the people berhalter tried at striker this summer that remains a mess. hoppe got a header goal on qatar. so part of me wishes nico and hoppe got their striker chance, maybe even some others.

      i mean, down deep, i think 99% of them should be playing their strongest position, and his may be wide. but in this specific case particularly with zardes hurt it’s like who is the 3rd 9. dike? haha. no, please no. so who else? and i’m not even sold sargent is a long term 9 solution unless he fills out and gets more athletic….he can’t hold people off, he’s gawky chasing errant balls into space.

      i think my deal is we only part resolved striker this summer while finding more and more wings. someone besides pefok needs to be a productive striker.

    • I think Hoppe with the ball is like a hurricane, out of control.

      The positive i see with him is that energetic chaos in a tight, physical, mess of a CCAF road game. He brought that to the gold cup.

      He doesnt start vs Mexico or CR but i think on the road to ES, hmm. His craziness cld be a good thing in that setting. Where quality tends to be shoved in the mud.

      I think Aaronson alot. Del La Fuenta, good signs so far this season. Unfortunately, im skeptical either has an impact in the first road game of their first qualifier.

      Oh, no thanks to Arriola.

      • let’s be real, the first 2 strikers are the ones who might see the field in a game with a good quali opponent. the 3rd or 4th striker on this sort of roster is probably getting into one game at all, the easiest quali game we play and maybe when we are already ahead. unless someone gets hurt. so you have to pick like they might play but realistically it’s an understudy job who subs into a game like el salvador. if that’s what you feel confident with, we have a match…….just realize the risk is that becomes wondo playing belgium if we have injuries. so you ideally need people who scale up. i thought putting zardes in that 3rd role was silly because i feel like i can safely assume he doesn’t do a thing to mexico. hoppe, nico, ferreira, wood, green, i could see them driving them nuts and maybe making something happen.

  6. If Pulisic isn’t available (and maybe even if he is) than I’d say start Aaronson and bring Konrad in around the 60th minute. Aaronson has more time with the rest of the squad so he should have some chemistry with the rest of them. Konrad for the last 30 minutes will keep Aaronson fresh in the event Pulisic isn’t available for Canada…while getting him familiar with CONCACAF WCQ games away from home.
    Even if Pulisic is cleared I still might go with this player selection since El Salvador is the weakest of the teams we’ll see this window. And if we can keep Pulisic fresh for the Canada or Honduras games we could get a clean sweep.

  7. Pulisic isn’t symptomatic so he’ll be cleared in time to play. We have a lot of great options to replace him if we needed to.

  8. I’d go with Timo Weah! I did a little stat crunch on lil’ Weah, thanks to transfermarket. Yes, I think, analytics are helpful but not end all be all to watching sports. U17- (9g 24caps), U20-(2g 6caps), Senior team- (1g 13caps) strike rate- .38, .33, .07. What has happened to Weah’s production as an adult? I have an idea. He played primarily as a LW in his youth, while the senior team mostly at RW. He’s logged 443 minutes at RW 1g (Bolivia), 1a (Colombia). 205 minutes as a LW, and 39 minutes as CF. He’s only played a full 90 once at LW. True, he hasn’t scored or assisted as CF or LW but he’s played most of his minutes for the senior team on the right. 65% of the time, we’ve seen Timo in a Nats jersey, it has been at right winger. How much info do you need to know something isn’t clicking. (It’s like Nico, he’s logged 1000 minutes for Caen, mostly at CF, hasn’t scored. Why keep calling him a CF?). As for Tim Weah, I’m in favor of him being CPs backup. Let the Allen Iverson of futbol, play on the left vs Salvador, and let’s see him, go forward!!

    • Weah has more minutes as an LW in his youth teams because he didn’t have to contest the position with Pulisic. Once he moved to the senior team, he was moved to the RW when Morris was not able to play. Weah needs to improve his game if he wants to be a starting winger.

      • I do see the point you made about Morris, LZ! Weah’s RW placement was done by Sarachan. CP wasn’t playing winger, as much as he was at the 10, under the interim coach. Weah hasn’t played much under GB. Out of the Weah’s 1st, 4 matches at RW, Rubio Rubin started 2x, Kenny Saief, & Johnathon Amon started at LW. Would you call them competition? I don’t think you realize how much talent & competition is in his birth year. Weah didn’t just get handed LW in his youth. Lol! His play might be the biggest reason why Hackworth (U17 coach) switched Sergino Dest to RB, when Dest was a winger in Ajax’s academy. (Similar to Akinola not starting at CF, in the YNTs because Sargent & Soto were that good). It’s hard for me to want Weah to play better, when I know Weah isn’t playing in his best position. It’s like watching Dest play LB. Yeah, he’s competent, but Barca signed him to play RB, his best position.

    • Really only Tab played him exclusively as a LW in his youth. It’s a pretty even split when you look at his youth levels in terms of minutes and production on either side. At PSG, Celtic, and Lille he’s played much more RW and even CF than LW. You have to go back to 2017 with PSG U19s to find any club stretch where he plays more LW and that’s because Diaby was the RW. I think he’d be fine as a LW I just think this is case where your stats don’t really tell the story you think they do. It’s very even distribution of goals and matches on either wing for NT and YT, the biggest discrepancy is goals as a CF for club but even between LW and RW. With the small sample sizes in youth football it can distort as well. He has a hat trick in U17 WC but the Paraguayan RB he played against that day has yet to even play a minute of professional football so maybe that day was more on the defense than Weah’s strength at LW? It is interesting that Tab saw Weah as LW and Konrad as the RW but now their clubs view them the opposite. Is it a change in their skills or just what their managers expect their wingers to do? What I think is great about our 5 under 23 wingers (CP, Reyna, Aaronson, Weah, and Konrad) is they can all interchange and switch sides during the match and be just as dangerous.

      • O I get it, in THIS situation stats ain’t stats. I don’t agree at all JR. 1st time I watched the 2000 birth year was the 2017 U17 Concacaf tourney, (Durkin, Sargent, Garces we’re best XI). I’ve been paying attention to this group since then. 2017 U17 WC India – Weah, Sargent, Akinola, we’re the starting forwards all tourney. Carleton, Goslin, Durkin were the starting midfielders, until Jaylin Lindsey, who was starting at RCB got hurt. Durkin moved to RCB next to Sands and Blaine Ferri started. Gloster & Dest were your fullbacks & Garces was your GK. Taylor Booth & Vassilev were your super subs. Have you forgotten? We had a convo about the Carleton hype train. Hackworth was the coach for both tournaments. This ISN’T something I have to look up because I watched it. Just like I can tell you, Durkin & Servania started behind Alex Mendez and Pomykal was a RW vs Ukraine in the 2019 U20 WC, 1st group stage match. Gloster & Dest were your starting fullbacks. Keita-Richards were your CB pairing and Scott GK, started the 1st match. I remember, a few SBI commenters saying Scott needed to put in some weight.The offense died, because Ramos had two 6s/ D-mids playing next to each other. Guess who started at LW? Weah repeatedly dropped into the midfield to get touches. He was going backwards a lot, instead his normal sense of urgency to get into the box. Weah, Soto, KDF were the starting forwards in that tournament. This was also the same time the ‘Weah sux, Sargent is better crowd’ were popping up on the internet. 3 points I’ll leave you. 1)- from U17 -U20 Hackworth to Ramos, Weah had position continuity. 2)- In watching this group, they left an impression on me, as to how well they play TOGETHER! Attacking futbol! With Weah at LW. 3)- I watch 1st, does the team pass the eye test? Then I delve into the analytics. Weah has only played 13 matches for USMNT, mostly at RW. He has a goal and an assist. His goal was against Bolivia D squad, and assist vs Colombia’s C team. Are you going to hold that against him also?

    • it’s an interesting idea for a friendly, like playing hoppe or sargent wide. it’s a risk for a qualifier.

    • Andrew Carleton in the same cycles scored more goals than Weah as a LW scoring 4 as U17 and 2 as a U20. Sometimes results against teenagers don’t translate. In the run up to the U17 WC Hackworth and Richie Williams before him used a 4-3-3 with two 8s in front of Durkin or Sands at the 6. It wasn’t until the tune up matches before the WC that Hackworth realized he could get his 4 best attackers on the pitch at once by moving Carleton to a 10 with two deep midfielders (a rotation of Goslin, Ferri, and Booth because Sands and Durkin had to play CB). Sometimes during 2015 and 2016 Tim played on the right opposite Carleton sometimes he rotated on the left opposite Akinola and sometimes he subbed in for either Andrew or Ayo. I like Tim a lot, I have family members who are Liberian we root hard for Tim’s success in my house, I just disagree with your diagnosis of why Tim hasn’t been more successful for the NT. I thought Tim subbing on was good against Mexico and I thought he was very good against CR. I think he’ll play quite a bit this window.

      • dude, the players do not even compare. weah produces as an adult pro. the problem is he keeps signing for situations where he sits or gets loaned. so he rarely plays. when he does play, he produces. like horvath. people conflate “sits” with “sucks.” if weah was transferred further down ligue 1, or to a second tier league, or to MLS, he would start and become a star. he keeps signing up to be a “domestique” for title contestants in france.

        night and day with carleton, who didn’t produce much after U17, couldn’t catch on in MLS or even USL, and is now in NPSL. one isn’t doing well. the other plays fine just needs to quit being so ambitious about club decisions. but weah scores for celtic, psg, lille, whoever lines him up. they just don’t play him much.

        and if he played more i am sure that team sorts out the “what position should he play” question that is less intense for a “just get me on the field” sub.

      • IV you missed the whole point of the conversation but I admit both OK and I were quite long winded. We were only talking about NT production not club form. Ok thinks the reason he scored in YT was playing on left, I said you can’t judge by YT because it doesn’t translate automatically to NT success like Carleton. Both of us rate Weah and think he needs to be part of the team, just like Berhalter does.

  9. Aaronson is the easy choice. He played very well for the USMNT and he has shown his worth yet again at Salzburg. Ariola, I thought played himself out of contention in the Gold Cup. How often has Konrad been in camp? Maybe have him in for backup, but he would not be a starter despite a few games where he has done well.

    • I don’t think there was any doubt whether he’d be called into camp. With CP10 possibly absent, he could start, which was a possibility IMO with CP 10 there too. KDLF, Chris Mueller, Weah, Caden Cowell, etc. are in the mix for a spot now, but Aaronsen has kind of exploded onto the MNT scene and has played outstanding football for RB Saltzburg. He may not be there too long either. I could see him snapped up in Jan. or the summer transfer windows

    • maybe if konrad does a summer tournament he shows well and makes his case. but maybe then he doesn’t immediately catch fire at marseille. but to me hoppe is the response. we now know what we have in hoppe in a US setting, even if he’s in an awkward transfer situation. konrad good as his marseille start is, we don’t know if he has a “dike” translation problem where he can’t do the same thing for us. so hoppe likely wins over konrad regardless which is the better talent. made his case. ditto wingback. richards or reynolds might be better than moore, cannon, vines, or bello, but if you don’t show up how do we know for sure? and this coach is not likely going to pull a klinsi and call someone cold (eg pulisic for guatemala).

      • I think being successful in Ligue 1 tells us a lot more than Dike’s success in the Championship. You also have Marseille with a much more similar style, Barnsley was basically playing 70s style English route 1 ball that’s the opposite of how the US is trying to play.

      • dude the konrad bubble popped when they got their euro guys back in the lineup and sent him to the bench. there are going to be a few of these where people misread an opening day lineup resting euro 2021 players as the opening for some new star. more realistically it says konrad is close but a rotation guy for now.

    • Marseille didn’t have any Euro guys. It appears Konrad is in a battle with last years starter Henrique, but so far Konrad has played more minutes than Henrique who has no reported injuries.

      • EXACTLY! I’ve watched both Marseille games (including the pitch invasion 🙁 ) and Konrad will eventually win the position. He consistently beats players on the dribble and creates chances for teammates … blow by to the end line, check … cut in on right foot for pass, check … shot, check … combines well and defends his position well. Sampioli ain’t no slouch of a coach and he looks to trust the kid as evidenced by minutes played.

        BIG UP KDLF!

  10. Paul Arriola! And it’s not even close. He would be the obvious replacement with all of the extra stuff he does. His Gold Cup was phenomenal. I felt he always made the right runs. He would always get himself in position. He would cover on defense. That man should be starting regularly for the USMNT regardless of who is out, ok, if you have read this far I apologize. I have never seen a Paul Arriola match where I felt he impacted the game. Usually misses any chances he gets. Really, if I were to pick it would be Aaronson. But I could see Berhalter go to Hoppe because he had a decent Gold Cup. Konrad is interesting. I would love to see him more. Again. If you have read this far. I would not play Arriola in any meaning match that we are not up at least 2-0 🙂

    • Ives…I really respect and enjoy your insights. But I really don’t see how Arriiola can even be in the same conversation with guys like Konrad, Weah, Hoppe, and Aaronson. His performance during Gold Cup was mediocre at best IMO. In fact, I thought he played himself off of the roster.

  11. Really tough for me to say between 1 and 2- but forced to choose I’d go- Konrad, Aaronson, Hoppe. The way Aaronson has looked.. we need to find ways to get him on the field. This shouldn’t be a problem as he can do good work wide or in the middle- left and right. What is freaking awesome to see is that we have so many quality options. I’d have zero misgivings with any of the 3 filling Puli’s spot on the left- any of the 3 would give teams fits coming off the bench late in a game. Damn… we get a few strikers rolling… we just might have something decent going on 😉

    • I think I’d go Aaronson to start and then Konrad off the bench to bring pace for the last 30 minutes or so. Hoppe’s lack of play since the GC probably hurts him.

      • Yeah…. Hoppe is most likely a sub at this point. I’m totally on the fence,- have no arguments against Aaronson- know he’s up to it… kid just keeps getting better and better. Frankly- I think I see him more as Lletget’s replacement in the lineup. Your call w/ him starting- Konrad as a sub would be awesome.Either would be handful coming in off the bench as Aaronson did with his lively showing and game winner this week. There’s just a part of me longing to see out team play with a wide threat- some much needed width! Konrad is definitely more a prototypical winger than Aaronson who is kind of a talented hybrid.

      • have you considered that part of the issue is not necessarily personnel — we have plenty of wide options and prospects and i agree we should unleash as much as possible — but GB’s “pinched winger” ideas that take away a lot of the chalk space from the “wing forward” and hand it to “wingbacks” like dest and robinson? to me i would be clearing everyone the heck out of pulisic and reyna’s paths and give them all the way to the chalk. robinson is mediocre and good as dest is going at the net, he’s not as good as they are. let the specialists have those wings and the backs can come forward when we actually need an overlap on a specific play. otherwise it feels silly to me like when the dynamo would get caught in tactical ruts where corey ashe was getting overlap crosses at the expense of 15 assist brad davis having the ball. to me there are even more goals in this offense but you have to emphasize the right creatives. and it would also probably help stabilize the defense if it stayed home and let the good ones do the work.

    • Yes IV I find it’s always good to take your two best players and ask them to do something very different from what has made them successful in two of the top leagues in the world for two perennial CL knockout round clubs. Neither Pulisic or Reyna hang out with “their boots on the chalk”. That is not what they’re good at. Both Dortmund and Chelsea get their width from their FBs. I get you don’t like that style or don’t understand it but that’s the way they play.

      • you continue to fib about “what they usually do” and call back to their childhoods as a defense. pulisic’s 2 games this season — central. 3/4 of reyna’s games — central. and my point re “wing” play is not so much that they are chalk on the boots crossers as that they like their space. reyna looked awkward pinched in. you don’t know what you’re talking about. but come back and tell me where they played in U16. i’ll then remind you what they do as adults. you can then try and gaslight everyone how their real position isn’t what they play now. whatever.

  12. Arriola for the LW position?
    Arriola is a straight-line player, right footed, doesn’t use his left. Can’t score. Can’t cross. Yeah, let’s use him. SMH

  13. Lots of potential right answers in terms of options, only one wrong answer. I will once again ask you to tell me what on field performance has Arriola shown in 2021, to be worthy of being on the roster, let alone be a starter?

    I saw him in the Gold Cup with my own eyes and he was a negative in replacement player terms- others would be subtracted less from the team by just being on there instead.

  14. There’s a lot of flexibility here, assuming Pulisic isn’t ready to go. And even if he is. Several of our forwards are also midfield options, at No.10 (Aaronson, Reyna, Pulisic) or sometimes even No.8 (Reyna), and several of our strikers (Sargent, Hoppe, Weah) can also play in a wide forward role. I think Gregg is going to find himself with a lot of options to get his best eleven onto the pitch. But I do think De la Fuente has made a case for himself to be a like-for-like replacement on the left.

  15. Mind boggling that Hoppe doesn’t even get a few minutes off bench as Schalke got hammered 4-1 by Jahn Regensburg today. They need to unload the guy. Wasting money sitting on bench and you can’t tell me the guys they started offer any more than Hoppe does. Schalke used to be a quality Bundesliga side now they are pure fuggin rubbish on and off field.

    • Hoppe didn’t play because Schalke does not want him getting hurt before a transfer. Simple, smart business.

      I think this title is backwards. This pretty much guarantees Puli will play. He has been vaccinated, and has no symptoms. Protocol means these athletes are tested over and over. Only reason he probably knows he has it, and like many I know, found out they had contracted Covid, after vaccination, and had no clue they had it. Only upon returning to offices, or classrooms, where tests r required they did they learn they had it. Unless he is an unusual case he will stay in shape, workout in his apartment, and not have to worry about injury in a Chelsea match. It makes for a good headline, and clicks and discussion will follow, but unless he is one of the highly, highly, highly, highly unusual, outlier cases, and the odds here are minuscule…he will be playing.

    • he’s being put in bubble wrap until he’s sold and unfortunately that sale will probably be a deadline day-ish move because buyers and seller are so far apart but they need money. my hope would be he’s been in US camp all summer and is still practicing probably, and is ready to go. not ideal.

  16. to me the more potentially impactful roster issue is i think the coach set it up to bring in zardes as his 3rd striker, zardes supposedly pulled a hammy, his choices are then dike — who he gave a ton of time but didn’t play well — or nico or hoppe or someone else who didn’t really get to play striker much all summer. mind you, 3rd striker won’t get a ton of minutes.

  17. It’s not clear to me what position Ives thinks needs to be filled without Pulisic. Winger, striker, what? Against a team like El Salvador, even playing there, I think we can play a 4-3-3 and play offensively. If you need a striker in a front 3, then among those mentioned you can also consider Pefok and Zardes. Even with a lone striker, Zardes has played left wing for the USMNT and could do it again. We have plenty enough options and I don’t think it matters much which of the ones mentioned is available for El Salvador. This is not something I worry about. Much more important is if Pulisic is available for Canada and he should be.

    • It’s pretty clear we’re talking about the left wing/forward role. Pulisic doesn’t play striker, and the list of candidates here make it clear what role we’re talking about.

      The striker discussion is another conversation altogether.

      • Well, Berhalter has played a 4-3-3 at times in the past and it seems to me if we play that formation, Pulisic is one of the 3 up front. And since we have other players who can play on the left or right we aren’t limited to bringing on a left winger.

    • Yes, we SHOULD be ES. However, this is CONCACAF and a road match in front of hostile fans in hot humid conditions. Hugo Perez has made some quick improvements with ES and I don’t expect an easy match. We could easily get CONCACAF’ed by a combo of goon like play and crappy refereeing. Everyone thought T & T was a lock in Nov. 2017 too. I’m not saying we’ll lose, but don’t expect us to dominate and win 4-0. If I’m wrong, so be it.

      • The good news is Hugo has them actually trying to play football. Now will that change if there is an early goal by either side? Maybe …

  18. starter is easy, aaronson has played well wide and had effectively become the backup. so he just slides a spot up. he has played well. also, i think weah is already making the team as reyna’s right side backup. this coach then tends to favor those he recently picked so either hoppe or arriola. i would go with hoppe because he had more impact when playing on the same team this summer. based on US soccer history i could see us circularly favoring arriola and experience, regardless if his experience is from the lousy 2018 cycle team, and regardless how he looked post injury.

    konrad misses. the people who cheered for him heading off to marseille training camp miss that the choice may have roster consequences in the fall. he won’t be “punished” — he might get called if a whole list had issues — but he also probably is not “rewarded.” just like richards and reynolds burned a chance to get on the quali team by the back door.

    personally i don’t think this would be the toughest injury to deal with. pulisic has developed a tendency to try and do it alone with the Nats that no longer fits the improved roster. aaronson plays like there are other people out there. it’s not ideal but it wouldn’t be as painful as if a mid or back pulled up lame.

    • Berhalter told Konrad to go to preseason to earn time with his club. Konrad broke into the starting lineup and has played well. Why would Gregg then punish him for doing exactly what he told him to do? Especially if the guy who plays his position is out (per Ives scenario)?

      • btw of the people left off for camp, konrad and richards were subs and reynolds watched from the bench. whoop de do.

      • i also think you’re conflating “reward” with “not punish.” there are others who showed up and played well. he won’t strike their name from the rolodex but do they beat out the people who went and showed well. who knows but i assume he favors the people who showed up over reynolds richards green konrad. just like when howard and donovan went on hiatus.

    • I think you also inflate Hoppe playing well against Qatar, Jamaica and Martinique and then sitting for a month. Konrad’s been playing well all through preseason and the first two weeks of the season. His stats were good in the first few minutes before the melee on Sunday. Konrad just adds a skill set that is different from Aaronson, Pulisic, and Reyna. He actually wants to play wide and run behind people (which you value). Weah might be the other wing that would play that way. Konrad is going to have down spots this season his first as a full pro just as Hoppe, Reyna, Pulisic, and others had in their early seasons. Either one would be fine and neither would be a travesty.

      • (a) he showed up and played well. (b) he is an in season player getting practices and running. (c) you don’t lose fitness in a month. if he’s sitting in october, that’s a problem. but just like i said on musah, it’s silly talk to suggest a fit professional as of late july is out of shape in august for sitting a couple games.

        sorry but i wonder if you ever played if you’re acting like an active player with fitness and minutes banked sitting for a couple weeks of games renders the player unfit. i think he would be refreshed and ready to kick butt.

      • i think you’re really re-packaging “form” arguments for a second time as “fitness.” i explained to you how week 2 konrad went back to the bench but the deal on “form” is exaggerating short streaks of play. i even like KLDF but he has one cap where he did OK and skied over the goal his one chance close to goal. it is unclear how ready he is. you then talk down hoppe’s efforts for a guy who couldn’t finish chances on wales B. whatever.

        i was made fun of for saying “experiment this summer” but half the point was to provide room for all these hoppes and konrads to make their cases in games that count. hoppe showed up and converted his opportunity. konrad skipped. konrad i then have to ask has he grown up since wales. in the future maybe listen to me when i say it might be more useful to sit the starters and let the kids shine. that gets rid of all these “well, can he….” questions. you do it my way they already have their tape and we can evaluate. all i know is one guy scored in a semi and the other had better things to do after skying a turn-and-shoot on wales like a U19. give me the one i already know could do the job right.

      • ironically i might even agree with you KLDF might end up more talented, but the idea of an international schedule is to test that before arriving at the games that count. one could make similar arguments about richards, reynolds, and others. but at a point when the “season” starts you have your “preseason” tape and that’s it. what have they done for my team. you’re saying they did something for someone else but that sort of scouting proxy is usually an argument for a friendly cap and not a path to playing in qualifiers. it’s also amusing to me that you’re flipping around and making my kind of arguments about peripheral players you like. “give him a chance.” maybe think about that next time you’re shouting me down proposing a prospect — particularly considering often enough i am right.

        to reconcile my positions — i meant experiment for the last 3 years. i don’t mean experiment a ton in qualifiers. at this point it’s no bueno if you have one mediocre cap. which is the whole reason i suggested more experimentation earlier on. so you get to now and the KDLF discussion is not “but in that one cap he….”

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