U.S. depth makes difference at CMOQ

Marc Pelosi (pictured) is a key part of a talented U.S. contingent at the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – When Andreas Herzog saw Marc Pelosi writhing on the ground in pain, the United States head coach’s first thought was – not again. 

Pelosi suffered a broken leg while competing for the Liverpool under-21 squad against West Bromwich Albion in February 2013 and was sidelined for 14 months. 

It now appears that Pelosi’s injury against Cuba on Saturday in the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship (CMOQ) was far less severe, although it was quite painful. 

“He got some stitches in his shin. It’s a huge cut,” Herzog said. “You remember with his injury story, when he broke his leg he was out for nearly two years, so I was really worried something happened again. Even though it hurts it’s not that bad.” 

The now-San Jose Earthquakes player is part of a dynamic and talented midfield for a U.S. team that also features Matt Polster, Wil Trapp, Gedion Zelalem and Emerson Hyndman. That quantity of quality has played a key role in the Americans’ run to the semifinals. 

“It’s not a surprise for me. Emerson Hyndman already played for Fulham in the second league, in the Championship in England,” Herzog remarked. “Even though he’s young, he knows what to do in every single situation, how he has to pass the ball, how he keeps the ball, how he turns. It’s real fun to watch him.” 

Finding the right balance in the midfield has been a challenge, albeit a good one, for Herzog. 

He will also likely have to make difficult decisions when it comes to the goalkeepers with Ethan Horvath coming in after a strong performance for Norway champion Molde in a draw with Ajax in the UEFA Europa League. 

Freiburg’s Zach Steffen has started both of the USA’s matches at the CMOQ, but Horvath is making a good case for himself. 

“It’s nice to have very good goalkeepers,” finished Herzog. “It’s better to have very good goalkeepers and you have to make a tough decision on who will play rather than looking for a goalkeeper who is able to keep us in the game.

“Ethan, the last few weeks were great for him. He’s making a huge impact on the defending champions in the Norwegian league. I talked to his goalkeeping coach today and he’s really impressed.”