Aaron Long thought about the aftermath of May 15, when he landed awkwardly during an aerial challenge at a New York Red Bulls game in Philadelphia.
Two days later, he underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon and began a rehabilitation odyssey that would see him make two trips to Europe.
“I think the hardest part for me was probably the first week, just wrapping my head around it, not really getting injured like that before. And there’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s to come,” he said. said on Thursday.
Long plays in a close-door scrimmage against the United States’ second-tier Phoenix Rising on Thursday as he tries to regain fitness in time for World Cup qualifying, which takes place on January 27 in Columbus, Ohio, in El Salvador. Against will start again. Out-of-season Americans are training in Phoenix, and some will travel to Columbus and join players from Europe for workouts starting Jan. 24.
A 29-year-old central defender, Long has made 29 appearances for the US since 2018 and will be a candidate to start when fully fit. He was Major League Soccer’s Defender of the Year in 2018, when he was selected for the league’s All-Star team.
“He is clearly a big part of this group on and off the field,” said midfielder Sebastian Lelet.
Long and forward Jordan Morris are both seriously injured. Morris started and played until the 78th minute in a 1–0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina on 18 December, his first international appearance since tearing his left ACL on 20 February.
Both missed the first eight qualifiers. After an operation and rehabilitation at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Red Bull sent Long to their sister team’s facility in Austria for two to three weeks and an additional two weeks later.
“People are talking about deadlines,” he said. “It’s a weird thing to try to plan, plan something I’m not familiar with. And obviously, those moments hurt a lot.”
American coach Greg Berhalter invited Long to train with the national team around the November qualifiers and again before the Bosnia match. Haven’t played a competitive sport in a long time, and the winter qualifiers could be very soon.
“I’m not sure he’s going to get there, but hopefully he’ll be close,” Berhalter said. “Hopefully in March we are having different conversations.”
In Long’s absence, Walker Zimmerman, Miles Robinson and Chris Richards have emerged as key central defenders.
“Greg is very fortunate that he has the group in terms of central defenders,” Long said. “Now there are five, six people who are all making a good case,”
Comments: Llettet on the prospect of playing in cold weather in Columbus, Hamilton, Ontario and St. Paul, Minnesota: “I think it’s been a long time since I’ve had to do this to be honest, so it should be interesting, ” They said. “Obviously, it’s going to make the opponent very uncomfortable. We have guys who are obviously playing that season and are used to it a little bit more, so it could be beneficial. .. you can only wear so many clothes.”
More AP Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports