Gold Cup: Gregg Berhalter on Tyler Adams' withdrawal and his surprise call to the birthday boy

U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter said there was always the risk that Tyler Adams, battling a groin injury, would not be fit for the Gold Cup.

The decision to drop Adams, who starred for German RB Leipzig after his move to Germany in January, came on Tuesday, just a week before the U.S. opener against Guyana in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“He has a club to play for as well," Berhalter said in a media availability at the USA's training camp in Blaine, Minnesota. "That’s something we just had to balance. We were making final decisions and speaking to the player. It’s a risk we knew was there. In the end, we're sad he's not there. We're sad for him. He's a big part of what we're doing."

Adams' withdrawal leaves two players on the team to play right back:

-- Nick Lima started the first two friendlies of 2019 in the hybrid role Berhalter set up for Adams.

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-- FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon, who was called into camp on Tuesday, was also in the January camp but did not play in the two matches against Panama and Costa Rica.

“Tyler has a unique skill set," Berhalter said. "He has versatility, he can play inside, he can play wide, he’s a top talent. Reggie has a different skill set. He’s more vertical, he has speed, the crossing, he’s more of a dynamic defender. They're just different players."

The decision to make a roster move came after the USA's two Gold Cup tune-ups, the 1-0 loss to Jamaica and 3-0 defeat to Venezuela.

"We're making a lot of progress in this area," Berhalter said of the Gold Cup preparations. "The game against Venezuela provided us with a good platform to gain fitness and get players on the same page. We'll be a little short in some areas. That will be life but we have to keep going."

Berhalter said his team included five players who were coming off hamstring injuries so he knew it would take time for the team to come together.

"Our job is to evaluate and make adjustments as necessary," he said. "It's not to be reactionary. We knew what groups we had going into these games and it's just about improving and making progress."

Tuesday happened to Cannon's 21st birthday, and Berhalter's phone call, telling him he was being called into camp, was a surprise.

"He didn't even have my number saved," Berhalter said. "He thought it was his buddy playing a trick on him."

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