Pulisic, Reyna to miss US qualifiers, McKennie returns

The 13th-ranked US plays No. 59 Jamaica at Austin, Texas, on October 7, is at 68th-ranked Panama three days later and hosts No. 44 Costa Rica on October 13 at Columbus, Ohio.

Published : Sep 29, 2021 21:12 IST , NEW YORK

Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna will miss the United States’ next three World Cup qualifiers because of injuries, and Weston McKennie is back on the roster after being dropped for two games for violating team COVID-19 protocols.

DC United winger Paul Arriola, Columbus forward Gyasi Zardes, Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah and Lille forward Tim Weah were on the 27-man roster announced on Wednesday after missing qualifiers this month because of injuries.

Valencia midfielder Gianluca Busio and Mallorca forward Matthew Hoppe were picked after settling in with new clubs, added along with Tenerife right back Shaq Moore, who had joined it on last summer’s team that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Hoffenheim defender Chris Richards and Heracles midfielder Luca de la Torre also were added and join 18 holdovers from last month.

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The 13th-ranked US plays No. 59 Jamaica at Austin, Texas, on October 7, is at 68th-ranked Panama three days later and hosts No. 44 Costa Rica on October 13 at Columbus, Ohio.

Because of the British government's COVID-19 restrictions, it is not clear whether England-based players will be able to travel to Panama.

After opening the 14-game final round of qualifying with a 0-0 draw at El Salvador, a 1-1 tie at home against Canada and a come-from-behind 4-1 win at Honduras, the U.S. has five points and is tied with Canada for second place, two points behind Mexico and ahead of Panama on goal difference. Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador have two points each and Jamaica one.

The top three teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean advance to next year’s World Cup in Qatar, and the fourth-place team goes to a playoff.

Pulisic has been sidelined since spraining his right ankle at Honduras on September 8 and Reyna since injuring a hamstring at El Salvador. Pulisic, McKennie and Tyler Adams have started together just once, against Ecuador in March 2019.

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McKennie started at El Salvador, then was sent home by coach Gregg Berhalter for violating coronavirus protocols.

Sean Johnson becomes the No. 3 goalkeeper in place of Nottingham Forest’s Ethan Horvath after being added to the September roster when Zack Steffen had back spasms.

New York City defender James Sands, Nashville defender Walker Zimmerman, Norwich forward Josh Sargent, Young Boys forward Jordan Pefok and Marseille forward Konrad de la Fuente were dropped.

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Among those bypassed were Borussia Mönchengladbach right back Joe Scally, Alavés defender Matt Miazga, Brugge midfielder Owen Otasowie, Orlando forward Darryl Dike and San Jose midfielder Jackson Yueill.

Given the compressed schedule caused by the pandemic, Berhalter used 22 players during the September matches, giving 21 starts. Midfielder Tyler Adams and defender Miles Robinson were the only ones to play every minute.

Averaging 24 years, 203 days, the roster includes 17 Europe-based players and 10 from Major League Soccer.

Midfielder Kellyn Acosta has appeared in 17-straight matches, the most since Landon Donovan and Jeff Agoos from 2001-02.

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