Miles Robinson’s injury leaves USMNT in a bind


Miles Robinson

Miles Robinson
photo: Getty Images

The conversation cannot be delayed. Postponing certain hiring decisions that unveil Gregg Berhalter’s future at the helm of the United States men’s national team is now damaging after this weekend. Miles Robinson was left out of the 23-man squad brought to Qatar in an extremely unfortunate move from World Cup suspension. And that’s a big dilemma for Berhalter.

After being a thorn in the side of the Americans during the octagonal World Cup qualifier, Miles Robinson will play zero minutes in Qatar after sustaining a non-contact injury during last Saturday’s game for his Major League Soccer side Atlanta United. Robinson suffered a torn Achilles tendon and will be out for the rest of the year. The shortest prognosis for Robinson is eight months. The USA will play their first World Cup game in just over six years in 2022.

There was no long-term injury that belies Berhalter’s ability to adapt the lineups the Yanks lead as Robinson. Any football fan with any sense would found Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams. Robinson’s absence from Qatar to crown a champion marks a fork in the road for Berhalter, with him and him Walker Zimmerman almost in pencil start at the World Cup as a central defender duo.

Berhalter’s confusing roster selection are well documented, as are the random squad rotations. Those errors were just small enough as the United States finished third in the Octagonal, the flattest plateau for an automatic berth from CONCACAF to Qatar. Due to a late fall World Cup as opposed to the traditional summer event, Berhalter has six months to prepare Robinson’s replacement. He will go one of two paths.

The wrong direction would be to rely on players who have featured exclusively in recent WCQ games or entirely new selections. Berhalter agrees to match Zimmerman with Aaron Long, who in the back in the middle in the last trio of USMNT games, would yield good results. Since when is mediocrity preferred? The Yanks head coach has indicated he will bring in Cameron Carter-Vickers, a 24-year-old who has played in zero Octagonal games, for June’s friendlies. I’m all for expanding your horizons, but working with someone completely new is risky if you don’t plan on staying with them throughout 2022. And Berhalter hasn’t shown an ability to stop tinkering with lineups.

Who takes Robinson’s place?

The group of players Berhalter will need to dip into to push through with Robinson’s vacancy are those who have featured in key games for the team since their Nations League triumph but may not have been in the last round of the Octagonal games . Is that a fussy way of presenting the best pick in John Brooks? Possibly. But where else can you find a real defender who has already scored a World Cup goal? Of the players genuinely struggling to represent America in Qatar, only he and DeAndre Yedlin were last in the squad eight years ago when the country played at a World Cup. remember his Goal against Ghana? A Brooks header into the back net was then rather unlikely.

It’s incomprehensible why Brooks wouldn’t be the obvious choice. I think he still has to “earn” it in whatever. moveable goalpost path berhalter throws herself in front of him. When you combine 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 in disbelief, Chris Richards, Mark McKenzie and Tim Ream should be considered, with Richards dominating that trio as he hasn’t had a red flag performance in a national team jersey in the past 12 months. Ream is the oldest and most experienced in this group, but has emerged a step slowly at the international level against the CONCACAF competition in recent years, let alone the best of the rest of the world. Go back to the Nations League Finals and watch the first 90 seconds and you’ll get my thoughts on McKenzie. yes it is a mistake But one that should stay with him.

Richards has the right education and has risen through the development ranks at FC Dallas and FC Bayern Munich. He finds himself at Hoffenheim, a Bundesliga midfield club that offers him consistent playing time that many other USMNT regulars struggle with. A lack of tested options at centre-back may mean Berhalter will have to adjust who he brings to Qatar, with James Sands now much more valuable as a defensive midfielder for extra help. That probably leaves an attack option from the plane to Qatar.

The conversion of a non-traditional center back to the position has had mixed results at previous World Championships for the USMNT. Look at Geoff Cameron in 2014, who was solid overall but had a big slip against Portugal. Anyway, Berhalter’s management of this situation and how it’s playing out in Qatar will either guarantee he’s the right man to lead the Americans as co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup, or prove he’s not, and someone else will get this opportunity. My money is on the latter.

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