American defender Aaron Long and winger Paul Arriola could be loaned to European soccer clubs from Major League Soccer after the United States’ exhibition against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday in Orlando, Florida.
Long’s agent was discussing a loan from the New York Red Bulls to English champion Liverpool, which is in fourth place and needs a central defender because of injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
Arriola could be loaned from D.C. United to Swansea of the second-tier League Championship. He would join Jordan Morris, who was loaned from Seattle on Jan. 21 and made his debut for the Swans on Saturday as an 83rd-minute substitute in a 3-1 win at Rotherham.
England’s January transfer deadline is 6 p.m. EST (11 p.m. GMT) Monday.
“I’ve been in these situations before, so it’s kind of easy for me to leave most of that stuff to my agent and just work on being here with the national team and doing business and training hard and getting the best out of myself and my teammates and looking forward to Trinidad,” Long said Saturday.
Players remaining in MLS may not have matches this spring. The league is threatening its players’ association with a lockout unless an agreement on changes to the collective bargaining agreement is reached by Feb. 4. Training camps are scheduled to open Feb. 22 and the season is to start April 3.
“I think it’s all the same to me, whether there is or is not a lockout. I’ve always been hopeful to play in Europe one day,” said Long, an MLS regular since 2017 and a 28-year-old with 18 international appearances.
Arriola, who turns 26 on Feb. 5, tore his right ACL in D.C. United’s preseason match Feb. 15 and scored in his first start after the injury, in the Americans’ exhibition against El Salvador on Dec. 9.
“There’s obviously been a lot of talk about me potentially going over to Europe on loan,” said Arriola, who has six goals in 34 international appearances. “And right now I can’t really do much, and a lot of it is out of my control. All I can focus on is playing on the field, leave it up to my agent, leave it up to the clubs to try and figure that out.”
Several young Americans have departed MLS in the current transfer window. Midfielder Brenden Aaronson and central defender Mark McKenzie left Philadelphia and debuted in Europe last Sunday, Aaronson with Red Bull Salzburg and McKenzie for Belgium’s Genk.
“It’s been fun to watch all the progress that our players have been making,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “It’s always a case by case. And there’s no one right formula for every player.”
Toronto’s Jozy Altidore has recovered from a slight strain and is in full training but the 31-year-old forward will remain without a national team appearance since the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“With the transfer window looming and the game being tomorrow, it’s a chance we didn’t want to take,” Berhalter said. “Throughout the last three weeks, you wouldn’t believe the amount of calls I’ve been getting from clubs about different players. … There have been a number of clubs interested in Jozy.”
If there is an MLS lockout, Berhalter may select all Europe-based players for two March exhibitions in Europe or may bring MLS players to Europe early before the matches.
“We’ve been adapting for the last year-and-a-half,” he said. “And that’s just something you get used to. Part of it is we know that our real games of importance start in June in terms of the ability to win trophies.”
Trinidad has not played since a 4-0 loss to Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League on Nov. 17, 2019. Because of the long layoff, Berhalter said the U.S. had agreed to a two-minute break during the first half.
New England goalkeeper Matt Turner will start in his U.S. debut. Defender Miles Robinson will start in his third appearance, paired with Long in central defense.
Orlando midfielder Andrés Perea, approved by FIFA this month to switch affiliation to Colombia, could make his American debut. LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo will not play arriving at camp with an illness and regaining fitness,
Ahead for the Americans is a possible match at Trinidad in September in the opener of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Arriola thought back to his start in the 2-1 defeat at Trinidad in October 2017 that prevented the U.S. from reaching the 2018 World Cup.
“That’s a very difficult day for a lot of us,” he said. “And I think it will always be in the back of our minds but without holding us back, giving us a little extra motivation to go out there and, just to remind ourselves who we are and how much better we are now than we were before.”
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