U.S. defender John Brooks returning to Germany after Brazil friendly

WHIPPANY, N.J. -- United States caretaker manager Dave Sarachan confirmed that defender John Brooks will head back to Germany following Friday's friendly against Brazil, and will miss out on facing Mexico four days later.

Speaking to reporters prior to Wednesday's training session, Sarachan confirmed a previous Bild report, indicating that the decision was made with an eye towards ensuring Brooks remains healthy after an injury-hit campaign with Wolfsburg last season that saw him limited to just 12 appearances in all competitions.

"[Brooks] had a tough year last year, and it's early, just after preseason, just getting started," Sarachan said. "I felt that this would be a good opportunity to give him this first game."

Wolfsburg are off to a good start this season having won their first three competitive fixtures, and are level on points with leaders Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

Brooks, 25, has been at the heart of that success, having appeared in every match while scoring once. Now he will aim to transfer that form to a youthful U.S. side facing two talented national teams.

"He's excited to be here, back in the mix, he's in good form with his club and so far this week with us," said Sarachan.

Center-back looks to be a strength of this U.S. team with Nantes center-back Matt Miazga, who is on loan from Chelsea, as well as Tottenham product Cameron Carter-Vickers and the New York Red Bulls duo of Tim Parker and newcomer Aaron Long all in the frame.

Long's path to the national team is unusual. Just two seasons ago, he was toiling with the Red Bulls reserve team in the USL. But he has risen through the ranks and now finds himself on the verge of making his international debut.

"I think it just proves that there's no specific timetable with an athlete," said Sarachan in reference to Long. "I think some players start earlier, some start later, but if you persevere and you push and you challenge yourself you can get to a certain level, and when you get that opportunity you grasp it.

"I think Aaron has shown with the profile type of center-back that he is, playing with Tim, he's got good pace, he's got good range, he sniffs things out, and he's been challenged at a very high level and has performed well. He's moved himself along."

Sarachan utilized three center-backs during last June's 1-1 tie with eventual World Cup champions France but declined to say whether that approach would be used on Friday.

"We're not sure yet," said Sarachan about this team's tactical plans. "I think, without giving away too much, we've been working and talking about two different systems. But we're going to play the way we feel we need to play at home, and that's being aggressive."