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Eddie Johnson gets another chance with USA
by Ridge Mahoney, November 10th, 2009 7AM
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[WORLD CUP 2010 COUNTDOWN] Injuries to Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu as well as club commitments have affected U.S. coach Bob Bradley's selection for upcoming friendlies against Slovakia and Denmark. Bradley named Fulham forward Eddie Johnson, who last played for the USA in June, 2008, to a 22-man squad that began preparations Monday to face Slovakia on Saturday in Bratislava, and the roster could be adjusted significantly depending on what happens this weekend in the MLS playoffs and the final round of league play in Mexico.

Left off the squad were players from MLS semifinalists Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake, as well as Edgar Castillo and Jose Francisco Torres, whose Mexican league teams UNL (Tigres) and Pachuca, respectively, face each other with a playoff spot for Tigres possibly pending on the outcome. Castillo recently became eligible to play for the USA when his application to switch countries for the purposes of FIFA eligibility to the USA from Mexico was formally approved by FIFA.

Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden and Brian Ching (all Houston) and Galaxy forward Landon Donovan will meet in the Western Conference final on Friday. Additions to the U.S. roster for the Denmark game to be played next Wednesday in Aarhus could include players whose teams are eliminated in the conference finals.

Nine defenders have been summoned, with Columbus teammates Frankie Hedjuk and Chad Marshall, recently named MLS Defender of the Year for the second consecutive season, among the group. Onyewu suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee during the Hexagonal finale against Costa Rica last month and won't be back in action for a few months at the earliest. Jay DeMerit of English club Watford is recovering from eye surgery.

FC Dallas striker Jeff Cunningham, who led MLS in scoring this season with 17 goals, hasn't played for the USA since 2005. Marcus Hahnemann, without a U.S. appearance since 2007, is one of three European-based goalies named in the absence of starter Tim Howard. Brad Guzan of Aston Villa and former D.C. United keeper Troy Perkins (Valerenga) are the other two.

Johnson last played for the USA in September last year as a second-half substitute against Trinidad & Tobago. He scored five goals in his first three national-team appearances in late 2004, but last netted a year and a half ago against Barbados. He's one of several candidates in contention to replace Davies on the World Cup roster as the Sochaux forward recovers from serious injuries suffered in a car accident last month. Rapids forward Conor Casey, second to Cunningham in MLS with 16 goals, is recalled after scoring twice in the historic 3-2 U.S. win over Honduras in San Pedro Sula Oct. 12 that clinched qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

The only uncapped player is Cunningham's FC Dallas teammate Dax McCarty, one of six midfielders chosen. Clint Dempsey, who has scored in his last three English Premier League games for Fulham, is in the squad, along with Michael Bradley of German club Borussia Moenchengladbach, Benny Feilhaber of AGF Aarhus, and Sacha Kljestan of Chivas USA. Kljestan played for the USA earlier this year at the Confederations Cup but was left off the roster for the Gold Cup and didn't play in subsequent Hexagonal matches.

Both U.S. opponents have qualified for the 2010 World Cup and could be grouped with the Americans in that competition if they are placed in a pot of non-seeded European teams as FIFA has often done for past World Cup draws.

The USA has never played Slovakia, which joined FIFA in 1993 after the former nation of Czechoslovakia divided into two countries. At the 2006 World Cup, the Americans lost to Czech Republic, 3-0, in the first round.

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton), Troy Perkins (Valerenga)
DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham)
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas), Eddie Johnson (Fulham)



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