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USMNT: Brenden Aaronson to miss decisive WCQs due to knee injury

As the Champions League enters the quarterfinal stage, Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nicholas Mendola handicap the remaining field, from Man City and Liverpool as favorites to which underdogs may surprise.

Red Bull Salzburg attacker Brenden Aaronson is the latest injury worry for the United States men’s national team ahead of upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica.

[ MORE: USMNT World Cup qualifying schedule ]

Aaronson was removed from Sunday’s Starting XI after experiencing “knee problems” in warmups, according to the team’s Twitter feed, adding to a list of injury and fitness issues for Gregg Berhalter.

UPDATE (Monday, 5:15 pm ET): U.S. Soccer announced that Aaronson will not be available for this week’s games.

UPDATE (Monday, 2:20 pm ET): ESPN’s Taylor Twellman reported on Monday that Aaronson suffered an injury to his MCL and will miss 2-4 weeks while he recovers. He will not be available for the USMNT’s final three games of World Cup qualifying beginning this week.

Juventus’ Weston McKennie is out for the season and young Hoffenheim loan star Chris Richards has been working his way back to fitness. Borussia Dortmund playmaker Giovanni Reyna has only just returned to sub work after a long injury problem in Germany.

Aaronson, 21, has five goals and 10 assists in 35 appearances across all competitions for Salzburg this season, including assists in each leg of the Austrian’s side UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie with Bayern Munich.

Who could deputize if Aaronson is unfit for USMNT duty?

Should Aaronson be unable to join the USMNT, Gregg Berhalter’s given himself a strong group of uncalled players to invite into the team for the pivotal qualifiers. Norwich City’s Josh Sargent, Montpellier’s Nicholas Gioacchini, and Marseille’s Konrad de la Fuente come from abroad, while RBNY’s Frankie Amaya and FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez are in good early-season form in MLS.

None of the above-mentioned players are like-for-like subs for Aaronson, but present attacking promise to the unit. Let’s hope the Aaronson injury is a precaution and the Salzburg man gets a chance to add to his five goals and four assists in 18 caps.

The Yanks visit Mexico at Azteca at 10pm ET Thursday before a Sunday visit from Panama and a March 30 trip to Costa Rica. Berhalter will hope to have completed his quest to qualify for Qatar prior to the away match with Los Ticos, currently four points clear of fourth-place Panama and five clear of Costa Rica.

Follow @NicholasMendola