By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Mar 17, 2023) US Soccer Players – The USMNT will gather in Orlando next week ahead of Concacaf Nations League matches against Grenada and El Salvador with interim coach Anthony Hudson calling in a 24-player roster featuring a mix of experience and potential. Only one, center back Miles Robinson, plays in Major League Soccer with MLS opting not to break in the early stages of its league campaign for the March FIFA window. Thirteen players who went to Qatar are back for the first FIFA window since the tournament ended in December.
Among the new faces in the group is another center back, Birmingham City defender Auston Trusty. Though he’s been in several USMNT camps over the last few years, Trusty is looking to earn his first USMNT cap.
Trusty’s inclusion is a testament to his excellent play in the English Championship, where he’s been a fixture in the back line all season. Only goalkeeper John Ruddy has played more minutes for City than Trusty’s 3,240 in league play, and only Maxime Colin can match Trusty’s 36 starts among outfield players.
“We’ve seen him several times live now,” Hudson said of Trusty on Wednesday. “I went to see him in a big derby match in England. The West Brom – Birmingham games are intense games, an aggressive game. And for someone like Auston to go overseas and play in a league like the Championship, which is relentless…. It’s just game after game and the games are a fight. They are tough and intense. It’s like the survival of the fittest. You have to deal with aggressive center forwards and direct play. You’re being asked to defend a lot. And what he’s done really well and he’s gone on to become one of the most important players in their team.”
With cup games included, Trusty is already over 3,500 minutes on the season. Birmingham City manager John Eustace has been nothing if not effusive with his praise of Trusty, recently calling him “a fantastic pro, a fantastic player.” While the club’s ceiling this season is a mid-table finish and avoiding relegation is the only real goal, Trusty has been critical in helping Birmingham City stay out of the drop zone all season.
Trusty is on loan to Birmingham City from Arsenal, who secured his transfer from the Colorado Rapids in the winter of 2022. That transfer surprised some observers, if only because Trusty’s path wasn’t as straightforward as some of his peers.
A native of Pennsylvania, Trusty joined the Philadelphia Union academy in the early years of the club’s developmental efforts. Trusty was the fourth homegrown signing in team history, coming a few years before future US internationals Mark McKenzie (2018) and Brenden Aaronson (2019). Signing his pro contract just before his 18th birthday, After spending time with the club’s USL affiliate, Trusty made his senior team debut in 2018, playing every minute of that season.
After the 2019 season, Philadelphia traded Trusty to the Colorado Rapids for $750,000 in allocation money. With the move west, Trusty took the opportunity to play a leading role in the back line for head coach Robin Fraser. In 2021, Colorado finished first in the Western Conference on the back of an excellent defensive record. Among the players most deserving of credit for Colorado’s surprise 1st-place finish, Trusty stands out. He started all but one league game that season and finished in the top 20 in several defensive categories.
Trusty played 33 games in 2021 and caught the attention of several European clubs. Now making the most of his chance in Birmingham, Trusty is building his resume to join Arsenal for next season. The player has been clear about his desire to play for his parent club.
Hudson also highlighted Trusty’s character as something that set him apart and enamored him to the USMNT staff, telling reporters on Wednesday that even the tea lady at Birmingham City approached him to extol Trusty’s virtues. Trusty’s call-up for the Nations League, his first inclusion in the national team outside of a January camp roster, gives him a chance to replicate his success at Birmingham City on the international level.
A few years in MLS, carrying responsibility as a young player racking up thousands of minutes, prepared Trusty for a transfer when his game had matured enough to make the move seamless. Trusty is experienced, appreciated, and at 24, still just getting started for club and country.
Jason Davis is the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM.
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Photo by John Dorton – ISIPhotos.com