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Chris Richards makes first Hoffenheim appearance in two months

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Chris Richards stepped back on the field for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim on Saturday, making his long and awaited return after two months out through injury.

Richards played the final 45 minutes of Hoffenheim’s 2-1 loss to Bochum, making his first club appearance since Jan. 22. The U.S. men’s national team centerback had been sidelined due to a foot injury which he suffered on international duty back in January.

The 22-year-old replaced Kevin Akpoguma at halftime and logged an important 45 minutes in his return to full fitness. Richards made two interceptions, won one duel, and completed over 81% of his passes in his substitute appearance.

Despite David Raum tying the match for Hoffenheim in the 54th minute, Bochum’s Takuma Asano scored the eventual winner in the 59th minute.

Richards is on his second loan spell from fellow Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and just made his 21st appearance in all competitions this season. The American defender has been linked with an exit from Bayern Munich this summer despite having three years left on his current contract.

”We created good opportunities, but we weren’t able to make the most of them,” Richards said. “Unfortunately, we lacked focus in the key moments. The defeat obviously stings, we’ll have to put it to the back of our minds this coming week and do better in Leipzig.”

Richards has earned six caps to date with the USMNT and remains one of several centerbacks fighting to earn a spot in Gregg Berhalter’s World Cup roster later this year.

Hoffenheim has six league matches left on its schedule and will travel to RB Leipzig on April 10.

Comments

  1. Is CONCACAF qualifying that much more physical than it is in Europe or elsewhere? It seems we have players get injured every time we play in qualifying. Maybe I just don’t know about it, but it seems to me like European teams, al least, don’t have such a high injury rate from qualifying. Reyna, Pulisic and Richards each missed significant time after playing for the US in qualifying (of course Pulisic got injured elsewhere too). And this time Adams took a knock, was that why he did not play for Dortmund this weekend? Zimmerman was knocked out by Canada in the Gold Cup. Others?

    Reply
    • The away fixtures are played on surfaces less than ideal for WCQ games, and the quality of the officiating is lower. Unless the US is assigned a referee from Mexico or Canada, chances are the game will turn physical. You cannot get away with the hacking as easily in Europe.

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    • I think it’s mostly bias because you follow the NT much more closely than you do other country’s teams. Mexico was hit with injuries throughout qualifying as well and of course Tecatito and Raul missed the first half of 2020.
      ——————————-
      As for this weekend almost all the US contingent was rested after 3 games in 8 days plus lots of flight time. Raul and HH didn’t dress for their clubs either. David only came off the bench for Lille (Weah was suspended for his red card). DeLaTorre was one of the few who started along with Murillo from Panama. I did hear a suggestion that maybe it’s time for our big stars to start hiring their personal nutritionists and trainers as many of the top world stars do. Has doing that prolonged the careers of guys like Messi, Ronaldo, LeBron and Tom Brady or is just genetics and luck?

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    • I think it can be more physical, but more than that I think it’s less consistently refereed than UEFA. As someone else pointed out the playing surfaces are not always ideal. For me the biggest issue is travel, spending several hours in the air takes a toll pregame but I imagine especially post game as small knocks can stiffen up.

      That said I don’t follow other NTs very closely but I do believe injuries are not uncommon among players who play heavy minutes for club and country.

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  2. Is CONCACAF qualifying that much more physical than it is in Europe or elsewhere? It seems we have players get injured every time we play in qualifying. Maybe I just don’t know about it, but it seems to me like European teams, al least, don’t have such a high injury rate from qualifying. Reyna, Pulisic and Richards each missed significant time after playing for the US in qualifying (of course Pulisic got injured elsewhere too). And this time Adams took a knock, was that why he did not play for Dortmund this weekend?

    Reply
    • CONCACAF is more physical than any of top tier leagues because the refs allow games to get out of hand. But I don’t think that factors into the injuries as much as some of the other differences that players in CONCACAF have to overcome.
      The field conditions are a big contributor to some of the injuries. Be it the longer grass that slows down the roll of the ball, the uneven surfaces, even the size of the fields all contribute to our players taking that 1 or 2 extra touch that open them up to being hacked.
      The extent of travel & weather conditions. I don’t think any other region has to travel as far consistently or have the extremes of CONCACAF weather. This was especially brutal this cycle where we played 3 match windows. Players flew from Europe to the US…than to Honduras, back to the US…than to Panama before back to the US and onto where-ever their clubs were. That kind of travel (confined spaces) isn’t great for recovery after exertion. Add the temperature & humidity changes from those distances and its easy to see how young players developed muscle injuries when they are not accustom to it.
      There are things we could have done to mitigate some of these stressors but the ones we did try were unsuccessful (player rotation, system/formation changes, etc…). As our players mature physically & mentally they’ll hopefully learn to manage the game and their bodies better to stay healthy.

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  3. We’ve had a lot of our players sidelined for extended periods of time this past year. Getting and keeping our players healthy is paramount for our chances at the WC.
    We’ve got talented players in the pool, we just need them healthy and playing consistently if we’re going to make any noise next winter.
    If he finishes this season strong and gets loaned/sold over the summer Richards should be right there fighting for one of the 2 starting CB spots.

    If everyone’s healthy and playing we should have an excellent chance of advancing out of the group phase….so long as Gregg doesn’t do anything drastically stupid like he did against Honduras & Panama during the away matches in WCQ.

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  4. Since I wasn’t too happy with the performance of our CB’s vs. CR, I sure want to see him come back and compete for a position there.

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    • I think you saw guys in the 2nd half protecting themselves in a game that was essentially a glorified friendly. CR put in a bunch of “heavy” challenges in the first half that went unpunished. When no goals came in first half from the US the guys were definitely in pre-season let’s get the minutes in without getting hurt or picking up some sort of muscle injury. I think Gregg should have rotated more but it’s hard to tell who was fit given the intestinal bug going threw the team. Busio didn’t dress, Arriola was hurt prior to Panama and gutted out 45 mins, and Cannon wasn’t fit after Covid. I do wish Horvath had been given a chance given the game was mostly a formality but maybe he wasn’t fully fit.

      Reply

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