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Weston McKennie, Antonee Robinson, Zack Steffen to miss USMNT-Panama match

The U.S. men’s national team kicked off October’s World Cup Qualifying schedule with a win on Thursday night over Jamaica, but now heads to Panama this weekend without three players due to separate reasons.

Weston McKennie, Antonee Robinson, and Zack Steffen will not travel with Gregg Berhalter’s side to Panama City on Sunday and instead will head straight to Columbus, Ohio for next week’s clash with Costa Rica. McKennie experienced soreness in his right quadriceps following the Jamaica win, while Robinson and Steffen will not travel to Panama due to the quarantine requirements for those returning to the United Kingdom.

McKennie and Robinson both played 90 minutes apiece in Thursday’s 2-0 victory over Jamaica, which moved the USMNT up to first place in the octagonal round standings. Steffen watched from the sidelines as Matt Turner retained the current No. 1 spot in goal.

With Robinson unavailable for Sunday’s date with Panama, Berhalter could start Atlanta United’s George Bello at the left back position. Sergino Dest is also an option at left back, while DeAndre Yedlin and Shaq Moore are options at right back.

McKennie’s absence could see Berhalter go with several different options in midfield. Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah both started alongside McKennie on Thursday while Sebastian Lletget, Cristian Roldan, and Gianluca Busio were all unused substitutes in Austin, Texas.

The USMNT will face off with Panama in World Cup Qualifying for the first time since 2017. Panama has only defeated the Americans twice in 23 all-time meetings, both of which came in the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Comments

  1. we put in 6 goals on this team last year and literally 1 of those goals got rostered — lletget. no reyna per injury. soto (2) and nico, half the goals that game, not called. on top of that no pefok or sargent. to be fair i wouldn’t mind seeing hoppe subbed centrally as an experiment, but i am curious how he plans on scoring, again. arriola tries not to shank a cross that zardes tries not to shank the finish?? all the chasing in the world doesn’t matter if the players to finish your press/counter flat suck.

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    • Well since Pepi, Aaronson, and Zardes weren’t available to travel then because of MLS quarantine rules ahead of playoffs and Hoppe wasn’t even a professional yet I think we might still have some options. Those four have 11g and 7a for the NT in matches since that Nov. 2020 match.

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  2. GB is an awful coach. Call 27, send 2 home, send 3 on to the next town, call 1 guy? So we’re down to 23 including just 2 keepers. Where are the reinforcements?

    The Horvath smugness reads a little less clever then — or at least some 4th keeper who in his mind could travel to Panama. And they do know the UK changed the rules, right? Similarly, if I want to rest Pepi, is my only option really Zardes, who sucked again? He’s also boxed himself in where Dest is his backup LB and is double booked all over the place.

    Working within his roster silliness…..
    451
    hoppe
    dest acosta lletget arriola musah
    bello zimmermann richards adams
    turner

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  3. The guys who worked really hard against Jamaica (Dest, Aaronson, Ariola, Musah) should definitely get some rest. Whether that means start and subbed just after half or kept for the last 20 minutes probably depends on which one you are talking about. I think the CBs should be unchanged, neither had to work very hard and should not be stressed. Pepi is interesting a case can be made that starting Hoppe or Zardes is a better choice since Panama will be very physical and there is no real need to start Pepi who could be a late sub.

    That all means that it is quite likely the only holdover starters from the Jamaica game will be Turner, Zimmerman and M. Robinson. Guys like Acosta, Lletget, Busio, Del La Torre, Weah, Hoppe, Zardes, Bello, Moore and Yedlin are all capable of starting and beating Panama. Musah, Aaronson, Dest can be inserted if the US is still chasing a game-winner.

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    • I would squad rotate this away game and try to keep a first unit fresh for Costa Rica home. I would rotate the 9 and at least some of the backs to keep them fresh for the home game. I think you and I are going to disagree on who is essential or first unit. Arriola is not. We should run Arriola into the ground in Panama to keep Weah fresh for the home game. I think you have to start one of Aaronson or Musah or the midfield becomes a joke for Panama. I also think you’ve double booked Dest as probably both LB and RB, and as Robinson’s sub, so you may not be able to rest him. Personally I think we should be starting Robinson and Moore for the home game anyway so run out Dest in Panama. You can bring some starting people off the bench for 30′.

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  4. I would go with a complete overhaul for Panama, all new starters in field, spread the minutes, leave us with plenty of options for CR. For instance, we don’t want to have a banged up Adams with 170 min already needed for CR three days later. This is exactly the kind of game (Panama) for Acosta, Zardes, Roldan, Lletget, Yedlin to be effective, we should use them. Guys like Aaronson, Adams, Pepi, Dest, Musah can be rested or used as late subs. Rotation for fresh legs…

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    • I imagine that is what will happen.

      Hoppe-Zardes-Arriola
      Musah-Acosta-Lleget
      Bello-CB/CB-Yedlin

      Hoping for 0-0 or better at the half and then sub in the guys like Weah, Pepi, Adams, de la torre, etc. to go for the win if its not out of hand.

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      • the mids would be more likely to score than the forwards would be. what is the point. chaos is all well and good but you need some finishers out there, and i wouldn’t assume zardes or arriola can finish a thing that all that effort would churn up.

    • Yep IV we all remember that frontline of Hope, Zardes, and Arriola who crashed out of the GC without scoring a goal. If only we’d called your favorite Bobby Wood, who just last night (checks notes) couldn’t score in USL and was subbed out for a 13 year old.
      ————————
      It’s game day eve where IV throws out about 15 negative comments like spaghetti noodles and then hopes one sticks so he can gloat post game about how right he was, when in reality his finishing percentage is lower than Gyasi Zardes.

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      • you must be taking notes on every opinion i give, good. you can tell them how many i have been right on as well — keeper, weah, musah, backs, etc. i don’t need to take notes your direction because i can just watch what the coach fields and you will defend it, which is not really sticking your neck out at all. i’m at least my own dude, and i will give credit when a criticized player works. my impression you take victory laps when the coach manages results then hide when not. this team should so loaded they should all be victory laps. hence my grumpiness. today isn’t going to be the slightest bit easy and your buddy won’t help one bit. i have more confidence about next week but he has to help set that up with rotation and coaching.

      • and you can make fun of me all you want but your average fan — not just me — should be skeptical of him until he wins against a team that might actually qualify. i trust in the pool. they will qualify no matter what. and i want them to win every game. i don’t believe in this coach one bit. like dragging an anvil behind them. if you can’t see the difference, your problem.

  5. I’m guessing 7 or 8 changes to start-
    – He knew Antonee wouldn’t be available so I have to assume he was planning on Bello all along.
    – Dest with a cramp, plus I could see saving him to play back in the states, so he starts Yedlin.
    – Acosta starts, just not sure if at the 6 or 8.
    – Llegett starts.
    – With Weston out I think he starts Musah again, kid looks tough enough for a physical road match, but subs him earlier than 75th minute. Maaaayyybbeee Busio instead, but with Weston out I think he saves him as a sub, unless he sits Adams & starts Acosta at the 6.
    – LDT off the bench, probably Roldan also.
    – Arriola doesn’t start, but I think someone other than Weah – based on his comments about him being scary off the bench.
    – I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts Zardes..
    – Maybe Hoppe starts in one of those spots..
    – Not sure about Aaronson..
    – No idea what he does with the CBs
    Overall I bet he’s a tad more conservative with his selections, doing his best to start the same lineup vs CR as Jamaica

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  6. Cannot say this strongly enough: LUCA DEL LA TORRE. Play Busio or ideally Kellyn Acosta – who is a lot better-suited to being kicked incessantly than Busio is, and he’ll kick the Panamanians right back – at the other 8 spot. Tyler Adams as the 6, save Busio for cover and plan to insert him for Adams about the 60 minute mark. Lletget to replace whichever of the 8’s – probably La Torre, Acosta’s a flat hoss who will run all day – starts wilting first.

    Prosper. Win. La Torre will make some real pretty splitting balls and operate in the middle. Acosta will run around playing reducer and enforcer and kicking the crap out of anyone who dares spike a US player, and there will be plenty of volunteers, it’s the Canalmen, for cryin’ out loud. They wake up kicking puppies for fun. Seems a no-brainer to me.

    Gregg won’t do it that way, but he absolutely should.

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    • My own preference would be to go with Lletget over De La Torre to start, start Acosta instead of Adams and maybe Busio to replace McKennie. Lletget because of his greater experience, and Acosta because I think he is good enough for Panama and we won’t need Adams as much. Busio or De La Torre probably a wash, but I’d like to give Busio a chance to see how he does. I think the ability level is pretty equal among several of these guys and we can substitute the non-starters early if the starters don’t hack it. My biggest concern is LB since Bello didn’t do well last time he played. Maybe put Dest at LB and then play Yedlin at RB. It would be nice if we can get a lead and then maybe replace Dest early so he’ll have something left over for CR.

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      • “My biggest concern is LB since Bello didn’t do well last time he played.”

        How is he supposed to show you that he has improved if you don’t give him a chance? If Bello can’t be trusted to play well vs. Panama then he shouldn’t be on this roster at all.

        If having a bad game permanently banned you from playing for the USMNT then putting together 11 players for a game would be pretty tough.

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