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Explained: Why USMNT benched Reyna, Aaronson & Zimmerman against Iran

22:00 GMT+3 29/11/2022
Walker Zimmerman USMNT Wales react 2022
United States men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter made several controversial lineup decisions for the biggest match of his career.
  • Gio Reyna benched for third straight match
  • Brenden Aaronson snubbed as well
  • Walker Zimmerman latest to fall out of favor

WHAT HAPPENED? Berhalter put his reputation on the line with a trio of controversial decisions for a do-or-die World Cup group stage match against Iran on Tuesday. Reyna, who before the tournament was expected to be a key figure in Qatar, is on the bench again as Timothy Weah has been preferred on the wing opposite Christian Pulisic. Brenden Aaronson was a candidate there too - as well as in midfield - but will be used as a substitute option. And Zimmerman, the leader of the defense in the first two World Cup matches, was replaced by Cameron Carter-Vickers in the lineup.

WHY WERE REYNA AND AARONSON ON BENCH VS IRAN? Part of it comes down to a lot of talent and only one starting position. Reyna and Aaronson are all natural wingers, and with Pulisic locked into one wing role, Berhalter's affection for Weah means no space for the Borussia Dortmund and Leeds United stars. Weah did score in the opener against Wales, though he is not considered to be of the same class as Reyna and Aaronson at club level, though international level is often viewed differently. There have been conflicting reports about Reyna's fitness; he appeared in the second half against England, and Berhalter has suggested he isn't able to go a full 90 minutes, but Reyna has denied those claims.

WHY WAS ZIMMERMAN LEFT OUT? Unless he suffered an unreported injury before matches, this was a tactical decision from Berhalter to get more pace in his back-line against an Iran team that will look to run out on the counter-attack.

STORY IN A PHOTO:

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE TRIO? Reyna and Aaronson are candidates to be used as substitutes against Iran, while Zimmerman could feature if the USMNT is trying to protect a late lead.