The USA team’s MLS team continues to prepare for three World Cup qualifiers, the first of which is two weeks away from Thursday. And while more will be focused next week on what this whole team will look like, the wild card of the ubiquitous coronavirus still looms.
Upon arriving in Phoenix, there were a handful of positive tests, although coach Greg Berhalter often had a full squad of 20 players called up for this part of the camp, which runs through Jan. 21, available before traveling overseas- Players Arrival . US Soccer has confirmed that no cases have been contracted at the camp itself, and Saturday will be the first time all 20 players will be on the training ground together. But the threat of more cases, as the omicron continues to spread and as players from abroad return to the United States, will be a factor as the coach considers the size of his team that faces El Salvador on January 27 and travels. To Canada on January 30 before returning home before the February 2 match with Honduras.
“We got COVID in this camp,” Berhalter said earlier this week. “There have been some cases of men coming into camp with COVID. Fortunately, most of them are asymptomatic and it’s a waiting game. But that’s our reality, that’s what all the sports teams are dealing with. So we’ll be prepared to adapt. We’ll have a contingency plan in place. We’re not sure Exactly how many extra players we’re going to take, but we’ll be precise and make sure we have a roster that can compete. Because by all indications, this thing is spreading fast, although people aren’t necessarily – at least what we’ve seen – there hasn’t been a lot of disease, but it It was spreading.”
The United States has already had some cases related to Pre-omicron, and COVID-19, with Zack Steffen testing positive ahead of World Cup qualifiers in September in Honduras. Christian Pulisic (August 2021), Weston McKinney (October 20) and Serginho Dest (December 21) are among those who previously tested positive as well, with Dest returning to training for Barcelona and joining the club in Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup.
There is also the question of how protocols abroad affect procedures. While the United States will play a friendly, if not very cold, match on the Ohio-Minnesota border in the first and third games of the upcoming playoff window, the second game will be in Canada, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just considered. A very dangerous level 4 destination.
This won’t affect travel plans in the US, though, US Soccer confirmed, with the only caveat being that players – and all individuals – must be fully vaccinated in order to make the trip, in accordance with Canadian regulations. As of now, reinforcers are not part of the language, and Sports Illustrated He realizes that the vast majority of all national team players are completely immune. But for those who might not be called into camp anyway, traveling to Canada won’t be successful.
Another way protocols can affect a match is the size of the crowd. Existing rules regarding stadium capacity at Tim Hortons Stadium (currently 50%) in Hamilton, Ontario, expire three days before the United States game there, leaving the pitch’s home advantage score for the first-place Canadians not entirely clear. As with most things these days, the CFA’s situation is still fluid.
The United States, who faced Phoenix Rising in the USL Championship in melee Thursday, will also face Grand Canyon University and Sporting Kansas City with their current batch of players before the start of the next leg of camp.
As it relates to two of the most influential American talents abroad:
Fate of Fate
The writer of one of the United States’ most important goals in the World Cup qualifiers is in a bit of a quandary. He hasn’t played for Barcelona in over a month, and his latest appearance ended with a first-half substitution against Bayern Munich in the club’s Champions League final (injury and COVID-19 played a role). Sure enough, 38-year-old Dani Alves getting the call for him isn’t a confidence maker, and he hasn’t been left out of Barcelona’s squad entirely due to Wednesday’s thrilling Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid. With the transfer window open, rumors spread, the last of which indicates that there is a file loan to chelsea, where it will theoretically be with Pulisic, it could be in the works. With the window closed during the FIFA international window, it could take a few intense days for the versatile full-back. However successful it may be, Dest has Berhalter’s support.
“He’s a competitor and he’s the guy I can see waiting for a chance, and when he gets his chance, he does really well,” Berhalter said this week. “He is resilient, and he has the right mindset to do it. He has been working hard. He had a minor injury setback at the end of the year with his back, but he is committed to making it work.”
Rina is still not ready
Gio Reina has not played for any club or team since injuring a hamstring in his first US World Cup qualifier on September 2, and despite his return to training with Borussia Dortmund, he will not be wearing a military uniform for Friday’s Bundesliga match against Freiburg, Coach Marco Rose said.
That leaves little time for Reina to get in match shape for three intense qualifying matches. Berhalter said earlier in the week that it was “too early to tell” whether or not Reina, Tim Weah (groin injury) would be recalled. If neither is called up, it will largely exhaust the options on the flank, with Weah impressively and energeticly filling the United States in the fall.
Dortmund play another match, in Germany’s Bokal against St. Pauli next Tuesday, before Berhalter names his team, but it is very likely that the United States will find themselves without one of their main attacking stars in another set of qualifiers.
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