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Adams Returns to U.S. With Back Injury, USMNT Availability in Doubt

The list of potential starters for the U.S. men’s national team at the Concacaf Nations League semifinals is dwindling by the day. 

After center back Aaron Long tore his Achilles over the weekend, his former New York Red Bulls teammate, Tyler Adams, has been sent back to the U.S. by RB Leipzig to rehabilitate a back injury suffered last month, cutting his season short a game early and putting his availability for the U.S. next month in doubt.

Leipzig, which has already clinched a second-place finish in the Bundesliga, will complete the season Saturday against Union Berlin without Adams, who departed the club’s quarantine training camp to return home on Wednesday. He was hurt April 25 in a league match vs. Stuttgart and was on the bench for Leipzig in its DFB Pokal semifinal vs. Werder Bremen five days later but didn’t play and hasn’t since, missing the defeat in the final vs. Borussia Dortmund. Adams made 26 starts and featured in 37 matches in all competitions for Leipzig this season, and he figures to be a shoo-in for the U.S. midfield when he’s healthy.

If he’s not able to join the U.S. for the Nations League, it will create a significant opening and rob the U.S. of a chance to build more chemistry between its top young stars. Despite all their successes and steps taken at clubs overseas, injuries, logistics dictated by the pandemic and other intangibles have kept the core stars from appearing together with any semblance of consistency. Adams and Weston McKennie missed the USA’s last two matches, in March, opening an opportunity for Kellyn Acosta in the midfield. The last time Adams, McKennie and Christian Pulisic all appeared together in a U.S. game was in March 2019—a game in which Adams was deployed at right back.

The U.S. faces Switzerland in St. Gallen on May 30 prior to a Nations League semifinal against Honduras on June 3 and either a final or third-place game against either Mexico or Costa Rica on June 6. Gregg Berhalter’s side concludes the FIFA window with a friendly vs. Costa Rica on June 9 that serves as the final exhibition match before the July Gold Cup and September World Cup qualifiers. The roster for the Switzerland match will be revealed on Thursday, according to U.S. Soccer.

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