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Aaron Long and the U.S. Men's National Team fell to Japan, 2-0, on Friday, September 23 in Düsseldorf, Germany. (Credit: by NORBERT SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Aaron Long and the U.S. Men’s National Team fell to Japan, 2-0, on Friday, September 23 in Düsseldorf, Germany. (Credit: by NORBERT SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

The New York Red Bulls have been off the past two weeks due to the FIFA International Window. The upcoming 2022 World Cup this winter means multiple teams have scheduled important friendlies as final tune-ups ahead of the competition. Others, like those in Europe, have actual competitions to play in such as the UEFA Nations League. Meanwhile others still use these sorts of windows to cap new talent and test out new tactics ahead of the next competition cycle.

Five RBNY players were called into international duty during this time.

Aaron Long – United States

First up is Aaron Long who started both U.S. Men’s National Team friendlies in the last week. The RBNY captain was subbed out in the second half in both the 2-0 loss to Japan and the team’s 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia. The international break could have gone better for Long who, again, was a major talking point for disgruntled fans. Following the loss to Japan, many pointed out how his passing ability left much to be desired. Multiple times the defender turned the ball over to Japan near midfield and lacked aggressive passing prowess. In the second game, one viral tweet shows Long attempting a long kick out of the back only to have the ball stay on the ground before easily being grabbed by Saudi Arabia.

Long’s place on the national team continues to be a hot topic. Mostly by people who now think the U.S. won’t escape the group stage in this winter’s World Cup. However, the captain didn’t do himself any favors. Gregg Berhalter also has a lot to answer for right now consider this was the final chance to fine tune before the competition.

Caden Clark & Daniel Edelman – United States Under-20

Lower down in the U.S. National Team tree, both Caden Clark and Daniel Edelman spent time with the Under-20 squad. The group competed in the second edition of the Revelations Cup in Mexico. The team finished second in the four team table, a large improvement following last year’s winless performance that saw the group place last.

Edelman was the standout of the two, starting for U-20s against Mexico and Paraguay with the captains armband in both matches. Clark started the opening match of the tournament against Peru.

Neither player found their way to the scoresheet. The team won the first match against Peru, 3-1, after trailing early on. In the second match against host Mexico the group fought but was unable to salvage a result. The 2-1 loss meant any chance of winning the competition was outside of the U.S.’s control. Despite a 2-0 win over Paraguay on the last day, Mexico’s 2-1 win over Peru secured them the top spot and second consecutive Revelations Cup title.

Berhalter has expressed interest in calling-up Clark to the senior team. However, most of that came prior to the midfielder’s appendectomy and slide down the RBNY depth chart. It remains to be seen if he’ll finally get a USMNT call-up following the World Cup this December.

Steven Sserwadda – Uganda

The only RBNY forward to get international time in the last window was Steven Sserwadda. He was called up to the Uganda National Team ahead of their two friendlies against other African competition.

Not much is known about the first match against Libya besides the fact it ended 0-0. However, the second match against Tanzania saw Sserwadda get the start and play the full 90 minutes, his fifth official cap with the senior squad. Unfortunately for The Cranes, Uganda fell 1-0 to Tanzania.

Currently Uganda is competing in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification and seeking their eighth tournament appearance. The team’s start in June saw a disappointing result to Group F play, losing its first match before drawing the second one. Sserwadda, who signed with the first team in June earlier this year, played in the loss to Algeria.

 

Cristian Cásseres Jr. – Venezuela

Finally, Cristian Cásseres Jr. was called up to the Venezuelan National Team but was unable to compete. Ben Cork of Once A Metro reported that the midfielder returned to New York after contracting what’s being described as a “leg infection”. It was further reported that RBNY doctors made the decision to treat him after realizing Cásseres also had a fever.

He didn’t appear in either of Venezuela’s friendlies against Iceland or Saudi Arabia. Of note, the South American country defeated UAE, 4-0, while the USA couldn’t score a goal.

 

The Bulls return to action this weekend. They’ll face the Columbus Crew on the road on Saturday October first. The penultimate regular season match will play a key role in determining New York’s home field status for the upcoming MLS Cup Playoffs.

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