Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Weston McKennie departs USMNT camp with knee injury ahead of second leg of clash with Trinidad and Tobago

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Injuries are piling up for Gregg Berhalter and the United States men’s national team. Already without Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, and Tim Weah, Weston McKennie will also be absent from the second leg of their critical Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals showdown against Trinidad and Tobago. The Juventus midfielder has left USMNT camp, the team announced, to recover from left knee tendinopothy. 

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It’s an injury that was aggravated in the 3-0 victory in the first leg in Austin on Thursday, but it will rule him out for the trip to Port of Spain, Trinidad. There, on Monday, the USMNT will play the second leg versus the Caribbean side with a chance to qualify for the 2024 Copa America and continue their quest for a third straight Concacaf Nations League title.

Despite winning 3-0 in the first leg, it wasn’t comfortable as the USMNT didn’t open the scoring until the 82nd minute of play even though Trinidad were brought down to only 10 men in the 37th minute. Without McKennie, a midfield that was already lacking creativity and direct presence will be even thinner.

The likely solution for Berhalter will be pushing Yunus Musah further up the pitch to make direct runs with the ball while also bringing in Lennard Maloney to play in defensive midfield but this will put more pressure on the wingers. Kevin Paredes and Malik Tillman left much to be desired on the wings and another slow start could open the door for Trinidad & Tobago to get back into the tie. With a 3-0 lead, the USMNT should get out of the matchup, but the haunting memory of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup at the hands of Trinidad looms over this program. Nothing can be taken for granted in Concacaf.

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