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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Andrew Gastelum

Americans Abroad: Pulisic Injured, USWNT Begins New Zealand Camp

It’s been a normal two weeks in U.S. Soccer story lines, if you disregard an all-consuming family drama that has completely dominated headlines surrounding the men’s national team and its future.

The pieces are still falling into place regarding everything that occurred between the family of USMNT phenom Gio Reyna, manager Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer at the World Cup, but what’s clear is that the story has become one of the biggest in U.S. soccer history. And while an investigation is still ongoing into Berhalter’s actions, the coach said he would like to continue as U.S. manager after his contract recently expired. 

However, while U.S. Soccer has its hands full amid the chaos, American stars were still playing abroad as leagues restart and enter into a highly condensed second part of the season. Here are the biggest story lines and updates of the last two weeks.

Christian Pulisic facing injury spell

The biggest injury news of the last two weeks came in the form of another layoff for the USMNT’s biggest star. Against Man City on Jan. 5, Pulisic was subbed off in the first half after a crunching challenge from John Stones. At first, manager Graham Potter said Pulisic would likely miss a few weeks with a knee injury, but the diagnosis has since been extended with most reports suggesting he’ll miss two months

It’s a tough blow for Pulisic, especially considering the fact that he was starting to get consistent starts under Potter. Before the World Cup break, the 24-year-old forward managed only three league starts—a figure he matched in his first three games back. To make matters worse for Pulisic, when he does return, he’ll find a much more crowded attacking setup at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have since splashed some cash by adding Atlético Madrid forward João Félix and Shakhtar phenom Mykhailo Mudryk, meaning Pulisic is in for a true fight for playing time. 

Tyler Adams wins USMNT award

Last week, the U.S. captain at the 2022 World Cup was named ’22 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year. Adams led the USMNT in Qatar, impressing for his leadership as much as for his play in central midfield, while also excelling in the Premier League since his move from RB Leipzig to Jesse Marsch’s Leeds United. Overall, the award was a fitting end to a memorable year for the 23-year-old. 

Said Adams in a statement: “Receiving this type of recognition is certainly special, but for me the team’s success is the most important thing. Having the experience of going to the World Cup, performing well as a group and moving the sport forward in the United States was super important to me this year, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Adams took home 2022 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year honors last week. 

IMAGO/Pro Sports Images

Daryl Dike scores for West Brom

The USMNT lacked a presence at central forward in Qatar, but there will be a few young, prospective talents coming into their prime during the 2026 run. Near the top of that list is the former Orlando City star, whose three USMNT goals came during the summer of ’21. Dike has struggled to stay healthy during his time at West Brom, but when he’s on the field, he’s been a consistent performer with plenty of promise.

In nine championship appearances this season, the 22-year-old has scored four goals, with the latest coming Saturday against Luton Town (although it came at the expense of his fellow American in goalkeeper Ethan Horvath). Horvath was a bit too eager to challenge Dike for a pass over the top of the Luton defense as Dike directed (or perhaps redirected a Horvath clearance) the chance passed him for the goal. If he stays healthy, Dike will most definitely be one to watch.

Malik Tillman stays in form

Speaking of a promising future for the USMNT, Tillman has continued to make noise for Rangers in the Scottish Premiership. On loan from Bayern Munich, the 20-year-old midfielder has been on a tear since the World Cup restart with two goals and two assists in his last six games and six goals and five assists on the season.

On Sunday in a 2–0 win over Dundee United, Tillman scored his latest goal. The attacking midfielder found himself in the right place at the right time just inside the penalty area during a mad scramble in the box before dispatching a loose ball into the top corner with force. It was more proof of his successful loan spell in Glasgow, and maybe a sign of things to come. 

USWNT in New Zealand

There are suddenly a lot more Americans abroad over the last week with the U.S. women’s national team landing in New Zealand for a pair of friendlies. Ahead of the upcoming Women’s World Cup this summer (which will be a southern hemisphere winter), the USWNT is holding a dry run of sorts as it looks to become the first nation to win three straight World Cup titles.

All three of the USWNT’s group-stage matches at the 2023 World Cup will take place between the two stadiums where the U.S. will face the Football Ferns over the next week: first in Wellington on Jan. 18 (10 p.m. ET on Jan. 17 in the U.S.) and then Jan. 21 (10 p.m. ET on Jan. 20) days later in Auckland. There is no Sophia Smith (winner of the ’22 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year) or Megan Rapinoe on the roster due to injury, and the NWSL’s newest No. 1 pick in Alyssa Thompson also isn’t in camp, but there will be plenty of star power in the first games of a World Cup year. 

USMNT camp nears

While the USWNT will be gearing up for a World Cup, the USMNT will be picking up the pieces from the fallout of its recent run in Qatar. There will likely be much more interest in the ongoing investigation into Berhalter and the Reyna situation than in the upcoming camp. Anthony Hudson, a Berhalter assistant at the 2022 World Cup, will lead the U.S. in the upcoming friendlies.

In its first game of the 2026 World Cup cycle, the U.S. will face Serbia on Jan. 25 at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium before facing Colombia on Jan. 28 across town at the Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park. However, most USMNT players abroad are likely to remain abroad; the roster is mostly expected to be dominated by MLS stars since the oddly timed friendlies come outside of a FIFA international window. 

Hudson is set to run the USMNT camp next week before friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.


Reyna set for Dortmund return

With the Bundesliga set to return after a two-month hiatus, USMNT fans will have their eyes set on one player: Gio Reyna. For all the chaos surrounding Reyna over the last few weeks, he has been training and participating in friendlies with Dortmund, most recently coming on as a sub in a friendly with Fortuna Düssledorf. Now, everyone will be watching to see how he responds on the field. 

We’ll get our first look at Borussia Dortmund, which struggled in the first part of the season and currently sits in sixth place in the Bundesliga, on Sunday when the club returns to action against Augsburg. After an injury-plagued season last year, the 20-year-old Reyna has made 10 league appearances for Dortmund but only three starts. But when he takes the pitch, expect USMNT Twitter to be very active. 

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