[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN]Injuries and poor form are part of what any national team coach has to deal with, but it's hard to remember a U.S. coach having to deal with the losses, at such a critical moment, as Jurgen Klinsmannsuffered over the weekend. The absence of Landon Donovan, "on sabbatical" at least until next week, was almost an afterthought to the problems Klinsmann faces ahead of the qualifiers against Costa Rica Friday and Mexico four days later.
Six different players have started at the outside back positions for the USA in World Cup 2014 qualifying, and none is available for the double dip against Costa Rica and Mexico.
Four starters against the Hexagonal opener at Honduras are sidelined: goalie Tim Howard, both outside backs, Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson, and holding midfielder Danny Williams.
The USA entered the final weekend before the upcoming qualifiers with Howard, Donovan and Steve Cherundolo -- 316 caps between them -- all already unavailable -- and Johnson and Edgar Castillo, the No. 1 and No. 2 left backs, likely unavailable. Also doubtful was Brad Evans, called up for the Honduras-USA game as a defender but injured early in the Seattle Sounders' 3-1 win over Tigres in their Concacaf Champions League match on Tuesday.
But the news got worse from there ...
The first to go down Saturday afternoon was Jonathan Spector -- set for a recall to the national team because of all injuries. Spector was taken out on a tackle -- ligament damage to his ankle -- 30 seconds into the Birmingham City-Middlesbrough.
That was followed by hamstring injuries to Chandler and Jose Torres (playing perhaps the best soccer of his career in Mexico for undefeated Tigres in the Liga MX) in matches on Saturday and the news that Williams, who went the distance for Hoffenheim on Saturday, would not be making the trip from Germany because of illness.
That was all made worse by the poor form of Carlos Bocanegra, who has not played for Racing Santander since before the Honduras match, and Michael Parkhurst, who has not played in the last three games for his new German club, Augsburg. Neither was brought into Colorado for the training camp that began Monday.
The losses leave Klinsmann with just six players listed as defenders for the upcoming qualifiers, and only two of them dressed for the Honduras match: the new central defense pairing of Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez.
As for the others ...
-- Clarence Goodson started most recently for the USA in qualifying against Antigua & Barbuda but that was only because Johnson (flu) and Castillo (foot injury) were unavailable and Bocanegra was moved to left back. Goodson struggled at Brondby last fall as the club fell into the Danish Superliga basement and edged close to bankruptcy. He rejected a move to Turkey in January and has been playing against for Brondby.
-- Matt Besler, Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow each has one cap apiece -- earned in the 0-0 tie with Canada in January.
GOALKEEPERS (3):Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire, 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake, 0/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake, 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City, 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy, 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, 5/0), Tony Beltran (San Jose Earthquakes, 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9):DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake, 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma, 20/5), Joe Corona (Tijuana, 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor, 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04, 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City, 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City, 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ, 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham, 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos, 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders, 12/10)
Note: In parentheses are World Cup qualifying games and goals.