Miles Robinson’s injury leaves USMNT in a tough spot

Miles Robinson

Miles Robinson
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The call cannot be postponed. Postponing specific personnel decisions that will expose Gregg Berhalter’s future at the helm of the United States men’s national team is now damaging delays beyond this weekend. Miles Robinson went from World Cup lock to out of the 23-man squad that was brought to Qatar in an extremely unfortunate move. And that is a big dilemma for Berhalter.

After being a rock for the Americans during the octagonal World Cup qualifier, Miles Robinson will play zero minutes in Qatar due to a contact-free injury he sustained at his Major League Soccer club Atlanta United last Saturday. Robinson suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and is out for the rest of the year. The shortest prognosis for Robinson is eight months. The US will play its first World Cup game in 2022 in just over six.

There was no long-term injury that will expose Berhalter’s ability to adjust the lineups that lead the Yanks other than Robinson. Any football fan with brains would start Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams. Robinson’s failure until a champion is crowned in Qatar creates a fork in the road for Berhalter, with him and Walker Zimmerman anything but pencil to be the starting centre-back duo at the World Cup.

Berhalter’s puzzling selection choices are well documented, as are the random squad rotations. Those errors were just small enough where the United States took third in the Octagonal, the shallowest plateau for an automatic berth from CONCACAF to Qatar. Due to a World Cup in the late fall, as opposed to the traditional summer event, Berhalter has six months to prepare Robinson’s replacement. He goes one of two routes.

The wrong direction would be to rely on players who only appear in recent WCQ games or completely new rosters. Berhalter commits to linking Zimmerman to Aaron Long, who featured in the center back in the last trio of USMNT games, would yield good results. Since when is mediocrity preferred? The Yanks’ head coach has suggested bringing in Cameron Carter-Vickers, a 24-year-old who has played in zero Octagonal games, for the June friendlies. I’m all for broadening horizons, but being with someone brand new is risky if you don’t plan on staying with them in 2022. And Berhalter has shown that he can’t stop tinkering with lineups.

Who will replace Robinson?

The group of players Berhalter needs for a raise with Robinson’s vacancy are those who have played in big games for the team since the Nations League victory, but may not have made it to the final round of Octagonal matches. Is that a nitpicked way to present the best pick in John Brooks? Possibly. But where else can you find a real back-end stopper who has scored a World Cup goal before? Of the players really competing to represent America in Qatar, only he and DeAndre Yedlin were in the roster for the last time the country played in a World Cup eight years ago. remember being goal against Ghana A Brooks header into the back of the net was then more unlikely.

Why Brooks wouldn’t be the obvious choice is beyond comprehension. I think he still has to “earn” it in whatever moving goalposts way Berhalter throws for him. Combining experience, potential, national team pedigree and chemistry with Zimmerman, Brooks is the ideal choice. And it’s not particularly close to second place.

Should Brooks’ isolation from the Yanks continue incredulously, Chris Richards, Mark McKenzie and Tim Ream should be considered, with Richards having the upper hand over that trio for not having a red flag appearance in a national team jersey in the past 12 months. Ream is the oldest and most experienced of that bunch, but has proven to be a step slow internationally in past years against CONCACAF competition, let alone the best of the rest of the world. Go back to the Nations League final and watch the first 90 seconds and you’ll get my take on McKenzie. Yes, it’s one mistake. But one that should stay with him.

Richards has been properly trained and has moved up the development ranks of FC Dallas and Bayern Munich. He is with Hoffenheim, a mid-table Bundesliga club that will give him consistent playing time, something many other USMNT regulars have struggled with. Due to a lack of tested options as a centre-back, Berhalter may have to adapt who he calls up to Qatar, with James Sands now being much more valuable as a defensive midfielder for extra help. That probably leaves one attack option for the plane to Qatar.

Converting a non-traditional center back to the position has produced mixed results for the USMNT at previous World Cups. Look at Geoff Cameron in 2014 who was solid overall but had a huge blunder against Portugal. Anyway, Berhalter’s approach to this situation and how it’s playing out in Qatar will either guarantee that he is the right man to lead the Americans to co-host the World Cup in 2026, or prove that he is not and someone else. that chance. My money is on the latter.

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