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Fuel Soccer Talk: With injuries come opportunity for USMNT; Lynn Williams once questioned whether it was worth it; Meet former defender Eddie Pope

Opportunity Rising: USMNT will face Canada, Cuba without Pulisic, Bradley

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter has named 23 players to the roster for this month’s must-win Concacaf Nations League matches against Canada on Nov. 15 in Orlando and Cuba on Nov. 19 in George Town, Cayman Islands. And there are two important names missing because of injuries.

Christian Pulisic was forced to withdraw from the squad after he suffered a hip injury during Chelsea’s match against Crystal Palace on Saturday. And midfielder Michael Bradley also was forced to withdraw after sustaining a right ankle injury during Sunday’s MLS Cup Final in Seattle.

“Advancing to the knockout phase is our priority, and that starts by getting a win against Canada,” Berhalter said. “We will be ready to play, the team is looking forward to competing in front of our fans.  Orlando has been a great venue for the National Team, and the support of our fans makes a big difference.”

This shouldn’t be about who isn’t playing but about who is and how they respond. Injuries creates opportunities and the U.S. side has plenty of talented players ready to step in and make a difference. It’s a lesson for players at every level – be ready because you never know when you might be called on to perform.

Overcoming injuries: More on U.S. rising star Lynn Williams

Lynn Williams scored two goals off of the bench to help the United States Women’s National Team extend their unbeaten streak to 23 games with a 6-0 thrashing of Costa Rica in a soccer friendly on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Williams, 26, has already made 19 U.S. appearances and scored four goals and was with the national team in 2018.

Williams’ entire career has been, as she says, “filled with injuries.”

She tore her quad her freshman year at Pepperdine. Her sophomore year she was having a great season when she tore her meniscus and had surgery. During her junior year she was having another strong season when she tore her labrum in her hip and shattered her elbow. “Hip surgery was a tough recovery,” she said.

“I even questioned whether I wanted to keep playing. I was questioning whether it was all worth it.”

 

Her senior season she stayed healthy the entire way and helped lead Pepperdine to the Sweet 16. So, yeah it was worth it. “Pepperdine was the place I was meant to be at,” she said. “It was a smaller school and it gave me more structure. It was a great fit for my personality. The coaches were great and developed me as a soccer player and as a person. They want to build people of character and that was my experience there. I owe them so much for where I am today.”

More from the history books: Meet legendary defender Eddie Pope

On Nov. 10, 1996, legendary defender Eddie Pope made his USMNT debut, starting a 2-0 World Cup Qualifying victory against Trinidad & Tobago in Richmond, Va. Pope spent 11 years as a defender for the United States National Team making 82 appearances for the U.S. side. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and spent most of his career playing for D.C. United.
Here is a great interview with Pope including some excellent highlights.

Send story ideas and comments to Terry Jacoby at tajacoby@comcast.net