Following an injury to Seattle Sounders defensive midfielder Obed Vargas, midfielder Jackson Hopkins has been added to Mike Varas’ squad, just before they begin the knockout phase of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
US Soccer confirmed the switch on Friday afternoon, just over a day before the team is set to face Nicaragua in the round of 16. Hopkins was one of the four alternates who initially trained with the team prior to the group stage.
According to CONCACAF rules, teams are allowed to make changes to the roster in the case of confirmed injuries between the group and knockout stage, chosen amongst players named earlier to the 60-man provisional roster.
Vargas actually never suited up for the team during the group stage. Due to their own injury crunch, Seattle had only agreed to release him for the tournament following their weekend league game against LAFC.
However, as reported by various sources yesterday, the team uncovered that the 16 year-old phenom was suffering from a stress fracture in his back, which will keep him off the field for an estimated 4-8 weeks.
Hopkins, who will take on a more attacking role than Vargas, has been playing with United’s first team this season, racking up 164 minutes over five appearances, including one start.
The US kicks off the knockout round on Saturday night at 8:30pm Eastern time in San Salvador against Nicaragua. A win will set up a likely quarterfinal game against Costa Rica, with the winner qualifying for the 2023 World Cup in Indonesia, and a chance at reaching the 2024 Olympics.