USMNT won't hold camp or play matches in October due to COVID-19 challenges

·3 min read

The United States men’s national team will remain idle until at least November.

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the USMNT, which played its only match of 2020 way back on Feb. 1 — a 1-0 victory against Costa Rica — won’t convene or face an international foe during next month’s FIFA fixture window.

The federation had been hoping to schedule a pair of matches for the U.S. men in Colorado in October. But that plan was scrapped after it was determined that the hurdles — including travel to and from camp for U.S. players, bringing an opponent in from outside the county, and quarantine requirements for players returning to their clubs — were too difficult to overcome. USSF is still hoping to secure a pair of matches for the men’s team in Europe November.

“After extensive conversations about holding a men’s national team camp in October, we ultimately determined the unique challenges created by COVID-19 as it relates to hosting international opponents and getting our players together wouldn’t allow us to move forward,” USMNT general manager Brian McBride said in a statement. “While we won’t have the team together in this upcoming window, we are making considerable progress for November.”

U.S. fans won't see Weston Mckennie (left) or Christian Pulisic (right) play for the national team again until at least November. (Robin Alam/Getty Images)
U.S. fans won't see Weston Mckennie (left) or Christian Pulisic (right) play for the national team again until at least November. (Robin Alam/Getty Images)

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter was expected to summon an all-MLS squad for the October window, as European-based standouts such as Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Juventus’s Weston McKennie would be subject to strict quarantine rules when they returned. But even MLS teams require players to quarantine for 10 days following international duty.

As for November, a game against Gareth Bale’s Wales has been rumored; the U.S. was supposed to meet Wales and the Netherlands in late March, but the pair of friendly games were cancelled in response to the pandemic.

If a match in Wales is finalized, the U.S. would likely summon an entirely European-based squad. It would also look to stay in the U.K. for a second match, probably against a non-European side. The Americans’ most recent neutral site exhibition took place in London in 2014, a 2-1 loss to Colombia.

“Both players and staff are disappointed not to be able to get back on the field for the national team and continue the progress we have made as a group,” Berhalter said. “While COVID-19 continues to create challenges for us, we are confident we can find a way forward in the near future that will provide an opportunity to play matches in preparation for the important competitions next year.”

The USMNT was supposed to kick off qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar next summer. But with coronavirus infections still rising around the region, CONCACAF moved the beginning of qualifying from October to March, the Americans won’t be able to kick off the final “Octagonal” round until late 2021. The Gold Cup is also slated for next July. CONCACAF announced later Tuesday that the Nations League final four, which includes the U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico, had been moved from March to June.

It remains possible that the world champion U.S. women’s team holds a training camp in October, but the USWNT would not play a match next month. U.S. Soccer is also mulling a domestic camp in early December for the men.

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