Brenden Aaronson out of USA squad but Scally makes the cut for Concacaf Nations League

With a week to go until USA men face Jamaica in the first Concacaf Nations League semifinal, head coach Gregg Berhalter has sprung a few surprises in his squad selection.

Of the 23-player squad, Joe Scally is the only Germany-based player to be selected.

Whilst his form has been patchy for Borussia Mönchengladbach, the American defender will be the only representative from the Bundesliga.

There was no space for the other eight Bundesliga players, including Union Berlin’s, Brenden Aaronson and his brother Paxten, who is on loan to Vitesse Arnheim from Eintracht Frankfurt.

However, Gio Reyna on loan to Premier League side, Nottingham Forest from Borussia Dortmund does make the squad. 

Brenden Aaronson, on loan from Leeds United, is the surprise omission in the squad.

The midfielder made his international debut at age 19 in a 1-0 win against Costa Rica four years ago and has gone on to make 38 appearances, including 8 goals and 6 assists.

In 2021, Aaronson finished third in the BioSteel Male Player of the Year awards, behind Christian Pulisic and Matt Turner.

This season, Aaronson played in the play-off victories for USA against Trinidad and Tobago, but has been restricted to substitute cameos for his new club.

In an interview with the Bundesliga, Aaronson admitted that it has been a challenging year on and off the pitch:

“First off, it’s been a hard year. I don’t think things went to plan in terms of the way we wanted to play. We had high standards being in the UEFA Champions League. In the league we wanted to finish really high, but we then struggled, not winning games and just having a tough time. For myself, it was about being patient and just wating for my time. That’s what I’ve been going through all season. I think what I’ve learned is that patience is a virtue and to keep working hard. I’m most proud of myself because I’ve found the hunger to keep going and to keep fighting.”

Aaronson has stepped up to the highest standard of his career but his lack of physicality has restricted appearances.

He has started only two games since October and scored just once in 23 appearances. The Union midfielder knows that it’s an area he needs to improve on:

“Not in a cocky way, but in the past I have played a lot. I played most games for Philadelphia Union, most games for Salzburg, and also in Leeds I played most games. It was a big transition to here and not playing as much, not being in the starting line-up as much. Having the patience but also having the hunger to keep going, keep fighting – that’s always my personality. I want to be the best player I can be, so I have learned a lot this year. I think from the style of play point of view, the Bundesliga is such a high-tempo league. I’ve been in the gym a lot, getting stronger and that’s something that’s really helped my game more.”

Unfortunately, the gym work hasn’t paid dividends yet as he will be left watching USA defend their Concacaf Nations League title from Berlin.

The winner of USA vs Jamaica will play the winner of Mexico vs Panama in the final on March 24 in Arlington, USA.

Full USA squad by position (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS)

GOALKEEPERS (3): 22-Drake Callender (Inter Miami; 0/0), 18-Ethan Horvath (Cardiff City/WAL; 9/0), Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 37/0)

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Sergiño Dest (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 32/2), 23-Kristoffer Lund (Palermo/ITA; 3/0), 16-Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 13/0), 13-Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 55/1), 3-Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 14/1), 5-Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 39/4), 12-Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati; 28/3), 19-Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 8/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 4-Tyler Adams (Bournemouth/ENG; 36/1), 15-Johnny Cardoso (Real Betis/ESP; 9/0), 14-Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 20/0), 8-Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 49/11), 6-Yunus Musah (AC Milan/ITA; 33/0), 7-Gio Reyna (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 24/7)

FORWARDS (6): 20-Folarin Balogun (Monaco/FRA; 8/3), 17-Malik Tillman (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 8/0), 9-Ricardo Pepi (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 22/10), 10-Christian Pulisic (AC Milan/ITA; 64/28), 11-Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 23/5), 21-Tim Weah (Juventus/ITA; 35/5)

GGFN | Oscar O’Mara

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