The United States midfield will be thinner than expected this international break as Yunus Musah will be staying in Valencia during the two week window, per a report. After picking up a knock, Musah will stay in Spain to recover and will also not travel to face his national team teammate Luca de la Torre and Celta Vigo on Saturday the team announced. Paul Tenorio has confirmed that he would be missing the USMNT friendlies.
Without Musah, Gregg Berhalter will have some tough decisions to make as he has been critical to the United States midfield. Enjoying a strong season in Spain, Musah has assisted two goals in five matches while playing an important role in progressing the ball for Gennaro Gattuso.
As Musah won’t be joining the national team, it’s unknown if Berhalter will make an addition to the squad, but currently the other midfielders are Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Malik Tillman, and de la Torre. The attacking trio of Brenden Aaronson, Paul Arriola, and Gio Reyna can also operate in deeper midfield positions. Given his choices, it likely makes sense for Berhalter to use this as a chance to play Aaronson on the wing and Reyna at the ten due to also not having Tim Weah during this camp. But regardless, the summer international window gave a chance for Musah to grow in a double pivot next to Adams.
While McKennie is one of the first names on the team sheet when healthy, having backup plans will be important with games during the World Cup coming thick and fast. Since moving to Celta Vigo, de la Torre has only logged 11 minutes, so the first question for Berhalter will be if de la Torre is fit enough to start. If so, it’s likely a good idea to get him as many minutes as possible but if not, focusing on Reyna with Acosta and de la Torre coming off the bench will also work.
Luckily, the injury to Musah is minor and won’t keep him out of the World Cup but with Zack Steffen, Antonee Robinson, Weah, and now Musah wmissing the final tune up camp before the team gets back together, Berhalter will have a bit more work to do. The USMNT will play Japan on Sep. 23 followed by Saudi Arabia on Sep. 27 during this international window.