After U.S. Soccer's initial roster announcement stimulated excitement for the possibility of finally seeing Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic line up together in the red, white & blue, injuries quickly popped that balloon of hope.
Not one of the trio who figures to feature heavily in the USMNT midfield for years to come will be with the team in friendlies against Colombia and Peru this month, after all three were forced to pull out of the squad with injuries.
It's unfortunate that three of the nation's brightest young stars will again be unavailable; that is undeniable. But all hope is not lost for the October friendlies. Their absence offers opportunities to the rest of the squad's midfielders, presenting more than enough intrigue for the friendlies. Here are four players who stand to gain from those key personnel losses.
Fafa Picault and Marky Delgado
On the cusp of the squad, neither player was included in the initial roster but added after injuries yielded the opportunity. Now they can maximize the chance and stick around for upcoming squads.
Picault was on the record earlier this season with for wanting more opportunities with the national team.
“I feel like last year I was overlooked,” Picault told MLSsoccer.com in April. “Last year I had seven goals as a winger and I know I can do more. I’m trying to get in double digits. I’m definitely looking forward to doing that.”
With two goals against Minnesota last weekend, Picault did reach the double-digit level he strived for, as he now sits with 10 goals and five assists in 22 starts. He's made one singular appearances with the USMNT and can add to that number this week.
Delgado, 23, may not be a teenager like Adams, but is still fairly young, and constantly getting better. As a box-to-box midfielder, he'll be battling with Adams and McKennie for minutes in the big picture, but could still play alongside the pair in the coming years in a central-midfield trio.
Just as Delgado has the opportunity to play in a midfield three with Adams and McKennie, Acosta does too. Remember: He was once meant to be the young face of the future in the USMNT midfield before Pulisic, Adams and McKennie rose to prominence.
At the moment, if fit and healthy, Adams and McKennie appear to be shoe-ins for two of the three places in central midfield. If the still-to-be-determined new U.S. boss opts for a similar system, Acosta is uniquely placed to separate himself from the pack as the favorite for that third midfield place in the XI.
Back with the national team after returning to form in Colorado, Acosta would have had more to gain if given another chance to play with Adams and McKennie rather than instead of them, but perhaps he'll have another opportunity in November if all goes well in this window.
Amon, 19, is in line for his first cap with the national team. The path to his debut has grown clearer for the winger, as Pulisic's absence opens a spot in the starting XI.
Jonathan Amon's goal vs. Randers. Nice composure. pic.twitter.com/VbgreWa1ox— Future USMNT (@FutureUsmnt) September 16, 2018
Amon seemingly came out of nowhere to many fans — by design. He was consciously being hidden by Nordsjælland until he turned 18 so they wouldn't lose the player for nothing.
"We've kept him hidden a little because he had to turn 18 before we could do anything about him,” head coach Kasper Hjulmand said last year. “He played a reserve game in Lyngby and was absolutely outstanding. It meant that we had to hide him away again. We did not let him play too much so people would not see him. So we have spent a couple of years training him, and he has also been at the academy in Ghana for four months.”
Amon can be hidden no longer for USMNT fans eagerly awaiting his debut.