A ruptured Achilles tendon knocked Aaron Long out of the MLS season and World Cup qualifying. (Photo courtesy of MLS)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Gregg Berhalter said that his heart dropped when center back Aaron Long suffered an Achilles injury last week.

A ruptured Achilles tendon knocked the Red Bulls standout out of the Major League Soccer season and when the U.S. men’s national team starts its World Cup qualifying run in September.

“It’s a shame, what happened to Aaron,” the USMNT head coach said during a Zoom call with the media Monday. “When you see that non-contact injury so severe like that you know your heart just drops.

“Really, really sad for Aaron. He was a big part of what we’re doing, starting center back for us so that’s going to hurt, but we feel like we have good depth.”

Such as former Red Bulls defender Tim Ream, who captained Fulham in its English Premier League finale Sunday, a 2-0 loss to Newcastle United (Fulham was relegated to the English Championship for 2021-22), John Brooks, who helped Wolfsburg (Bundesliga) clinch a berth in next year’s Champions League, and Mark McKenzie (Genk), who transferred from the Philadelphia Union for this season.

“The center backs in camp have all had good seasons in Europe,” Berhalter said. “Tim with the exception of not having played a lot, but he’s come on and played the last couple of weeks and getting [playing to a 1-1 tie] at Manchester so that was a good result for them.”

Berhalter said there are some MLS-based center backs that are expected to compete in the Concacaf Gold Cup – Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman and Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson.

“So, there is a deep pool and we’re looking forward to seeing what these guys can do in this camp,” Berhalter said.