Yunus Musah’s absence from the USMNT camp was called a “shame” by teammate Brenden Aaronson as the midfielder was forced out of the team’s friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia due to a left groin problem.
Musah is a scheduled starter for this autumn’s World Cup and has played a key role for Valencia to start the La Liga campaign but the Stars and Stripes will be without him for their September rehearsals as he recovers from a knock .
“It’s a shame he couldn’t come to camp, I know we all miss him,” midfielder Aaronson told reporters on Monday.
“He’s a great character to have on the team and it’s difficult not to have him here.”
The 19-year-old, who plays centre-back for USMNT, had been featured frequently on the right wing for the Spanish club in the past two seasons and was a marginal figure, having made just 13 league starts last season.
That all changed with the arrival of Gennaro Gattuso this summer, however, as Musah has featured in his preferred central role with two assists so far in five of the club’s first six league games (one missed due to his current defeat).
“When I got here, in the first few days, the first week, I had about 20 clubs calling me asking about Musah,” Gattuso said earlier this summer.
“He has to keep working, but he’s a player that many teams around the world would like to have.”
Of course, that squad includes the USMNT, and Musah’s recent injury marks another opportunity where Gregg Berhalter will be without his first-choice midfield third.
Musah, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie have only started together seven times due to a series of injuries that afflicted the trio and now they have been denied another chance to build chemistry together ahead of the tournament.
“The way the World Cup is, you won’t have more than a couple of weeks to come together and network and add new personalities and faces to the group,” goaltender Matt Turner said Monday.
“I think this is going to be a great camp for us to get a little bit into what that’s going to be like.”
Musah is part of an unfortunately large group of players missing this USMNT camp through injury as Tim Weah, Antonee Robinson, Zack Steffen, Cameron-Carter Vickers and Chris Richards are also absent.
And while Berhalter wants to have a clean bill of health at Qarar, he revealed on Sunday on ESPN that those not currently in the squad could benefit from squad injuries.
“There’s probably going to be an opportunity for guys who aren’t in this camp just for attrition,” he said.
“It’s something we expect, we hope doesn’t happen. But it’s probably based on the past that it will be.’