Gio Reyna returns, Tyler Adams out injured as USMNT resume Concacaf Nations League

USMNT_Gio Reyna

For the first time since the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the US men's national team will be playing competitive matches with a full complement of players available.

A pair of Concacaf Nations League fixtures are on the horizon, starting March 24 at Grenada and concluding March 27 vs. El Salvador at Orlando City SC's home stadium. Twenty-four players have been named to the roster that's seeking a Nations League semifinals spot in June, as well as to qualify for this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup.

Let's sort through some of the biggest talking points.

Reyna returns

Chief among those storylines is the inclusion of Borussia Dortmund attacker Gio Reyna, who returns to the USMNT after off-field controversy following the World Cup. Just days removed from the release of the findings of US Soccer's investigation into that familial matter, the 20-year-old Bundesliga rising star re-enters the spotlight.

Interim head coach Anthony Hudson said on Wednesday that based on his personal interactions with Reyna in recent weeks and his overall read on the situation, he feels good about Reyna's standing within the group.

"Honestly I never felt any sort of resistance to [Reyna] coming back," Hudson said. "Obviously he's a young guy who has been through a lot. The conversations initially were, first of all, being a young man overseas, having gone through all of this, the conversation – the objective first of all was just to see how he was on a human level.

"Without going into details of our conversation, I think for anyone to go through that is going to be a challenge. But he seems to be in a good place in the sense that I see that he is firmly focused on his soccer, his playing and coming back into camp.

"Speaking to him this week, there was no hesitation from him about coming in. He's determined to come in and do well. He's a good guy, a talented player, and as far as I'm concerned our conversations have been good and he's looking forward to coming back in."

Who replaces Adams?

The US will be without captain Tyler Adams for these upcoming matches, as the Leeds United midfielder sustained a hamstring injury while training with his Premier League club earlier this week.

While it leaves Hudson without one of the Yanks' most indispensable players, the coach is looking at the absence as an opportunity for others to showcase their value. The midfield group includes some more known commodities such as Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Brenden Aaronson and Luca de la Torre. But players like Juárez's Alan Soñora and Internacional's Johnny Cardoso may now have even more of an opening to make their mark.

"It's unfortunate about Tyler," Hudson began. "He is such an important player to us. Our captain, did an incredible job at the World Cup and improving every time we see him in the Premier League. So, first of all, really pleased about his development and what he's doing in his career.

"So, it was disappointing news that we can't have him. However, it does open up an opportunity for someone else to back him up, to come in and have a go at that position. And I think we've got a couple of options in there that we feel confident in these games we're playing, that we have the quality to be able to do what we need to do and get what we need out of that position in these two games. So, we're pleased with who's coming in."

Robinson re-integrates

The roster is largely Europe-based, which Hudson explained was intentional to accommodate the loaded club schedules for potential domestic call-ins. The one exception to that is Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson, who makes his first appearance at a USMNT camp since returning from an Achilles' injury that cut his 2022 MLS season short and forced him to miss the World Cup.

Hudson said Robinson's call-in was all about getting him reacclimated to the international level, given the length of his injury layoff. The 26-year-old experienced his USMNT breakthrough right before the injury and was widely believed to be in contention for a starting spot in Qatar.

"He's someone that has been out for a long time, had a terrible injury," Hudson said of Robinson. "It was such a shame, we all felt terribly for him because he's just a really, really good guy. Good human being and a really, really important player. So for him to miss that much soccer and international soccer and also the World Cup was very tough for him. So, first of all, we just want to get him back in and see him and work with him and re-integrate him back into the squad.

"And then the other side of that is we have decided, we've spoken to the club, and we know the fact that Miles is only just returning from a very serious injury and we believe it's important for him to try as best as possible to play one game a week rather than really overload him with two games. So, that way we felt this camp was more suited [than] the April camp, where the April camp's going to be three games in seven days."

Zendejas arrives

Perhaps the most exciting arrival among the group is Club América winger Alex Zendejas, who announced his commitment to the US on Tuesday over Mexico. The 25-year-old made his USMNT debut in a January friendly against Serbia, but was still technically eligible to ask FIFA for a one-time switch of affiliation to El Tri.

With his commitment now secured, Hudson said he's eager to see the type of impact Zendejas can make on the field. A former FC Dallas homegrown, Zendejas is a dynamic attacking threat, with what Hudson described as a unique skillset compared to some of the other wingers in the player pool.

"I think firstly we're really pleased that he's decided to come to us," Hudson said of Zendejas. "This is a player who we've been watching for a while. He is an exciting player. He's a slightly different type of profile of winger that we have. I love his mentality. I love his quality. But I really love he has a real aggressive way of playing, an intense way of playing.

"He's a winner. He's a tough, tough player and he's going to help us be a better team. So we're pleased he's agreed to come and join us."