Aaron Long declares himself to be “good to go” for USMNT action after ACL recovery

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Aaron Long has insisted he is “good to go” for the US World Cup qualifiers later this month.

The New York Red Bulls midfielder, who suffered a broken ACL in 2021, has not played a game since May.

But Long is now nearing the end of his road to recovery and was recently called to USMNT’s winter training camp in Arizona. When the World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras are on the way, the 29-year-old has thrown his hat in the ring for battle.

“I’m feeling great. I mean, I’m not even eight months out yet, but I’m feeling really good, I’m training full time,” Long told reporters on Thursday (via MLSsoccer.com). “We had a scrimmage today. I got my minutes in the 11v11 scrimmage against Phoenix Rising today, so I feel really good. It was just to keep getting healthy and hopefully – and I got it [two] more weeks to qualify, so yes, it should be good to go. “

Despite his self-confidence, Long is facing an uphill battle to get on USMNT’s midfield depth chart. John Brooks has long been an established leader in that position, and Chris Richard’s star is rising rapidly in Europe. At home, the likes of Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman enjoyed strong MLS seasons in 2021 with Atlanta United and Nashville SC, respectively.

“I think the first time you encounter that adversity and you hit those bumps, you do not really know how to respond and how to react,” he continued.

“I’ve been through a long way and have already met many of these bumps. So it was just one more, and it took the first week to kind of wrap my head around it. But after that it was just a mentality to push through. and kind of how I react to those moments, and not looking back and looking at my leg and sitting on the couch and kind of feeling sorry for myself.

“So it was not the hardest thing I have ever dealt with.”

While Long – who so far has 21 USMNT caps to his name – would no doubt love to be with later this month, head coach Gregg Berhalter is a little more realistic. He has not necessarily taken Long out of contention, but has hinted that these upcoming matches have come a little too early for the midfielder.

“He looks great. His development from the camp in Cincinnati in November to December until now has been in line – the line goes [upward]”He’s doing a good job,” said Berhalter.

“For us, it’s about having well-trained players, having guys in rhythm, available. And I’m not sure he will get there this month, but hopefully he will be close. And then we know that he will return to the MLS pre-season with his team and he will play matches there at the beginning of the season, and hopefully we will have different talks in March. “

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