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Unprecedented losses dim U.S. outlook
by Paul Kennedy, March 18th, 2013 11:25PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, men's national team, mls, world cup 2014


[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 Klinsmann suffered 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.

  1. James Hardern
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 8:58 a.m.
    Are there actually two Tony Beltran's?

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 9:07 a.m.
    If it can't be done with this squad, shame on them...110% effort and no less is a must.

  1. Bill Morrison
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 9:09 a.m.
    Donovan "on sabbatical" what a joke. Hike your skirt up or get out. Boo hoo, this guy has lived a sporting life any one of us on here would give our left nut to have: National Team, World Cups, league championships, European play, etc. It's time to either man-up or retire.

  1. James Hardern
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 9:14 a.m.
    As much as I agree on Donovan, he wouldn't help out the issues we are going to see on the back line. Klinsmann is now paying the price for having invested so much playing time in older players like Cherundolo and Bocanegra. This is going to be a real challenge for the back four, and at the just the wrong time.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
    With or without the injuries, it would still be very difficult for the USA to qualify for the WC this cycle.Hopefully, we'll bring in younger guys for the missing players and at least have them gain some experience under fire.

  1. Dennis Mueller
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 11:07 a.m.
    Hardly that difficult to qualify, even 4th out of 6 gets a play-in against an Oceana team. Finishing ahead of two or three out of Jamaica, Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica is still pretty likely. Bragging rights by finishing atop the group, maybe not so likely. Those 4 teams do not have attacks any better than found in MLS, they are unlikely to be able to swamp the US with goals, but they will score some.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.
    Well, if we can't be one of the top 4 teams (given that the 4th team plays the Oceania winner) in the world's weakest region (not counting Oceania who doesn't even get to put a team into the WC directly), then there is really no excuse. We're not playing Germany, Brazil, Holland and the likes... Not even Russia, Switzerland, or Belgium. We're going against the likes of Panama, Jamaica, Honduras... With all due respect to them, no one will ever mistake them for any kind of footballing powers.

  1. feliks fuksman
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 1:11 p.m.
    If we can't qualify then maybe we just don't deserve to be there. Who knows maybe the younger guys can do better. We'll see where we are. As far as our region being so weak, how come there are players from most of those countries playing in Europe? Show me one good European club that doesn't depend on foreign players.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
    Wow, head over to the Sporting News and read this:

  1. Eric Dibella
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
    Depressing. OK, fire up for Friday! Come on you Yanks!!!!

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.
    How quickly bloggers start to sabotage LD. They surely speak from "experience" on the pitch. Take solace amici sportivi, your friendly TV commentators will lift your spirits when they spout the "fantastic and amazing" individual performances.

  1. John Burns
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 3:25 p.m.
    Sometimes SA editors fail to read what their writers have plugged into the mix. The Tony Beltran listed above who plays for the San Jose Earthquakes spells his name a bit differently that the one with RSL. He uses his nickname "Justin" instead of Tony and the surname "Morrow" is borrowed from his mother's side of the family to avoid confusion with his splitting image at RSL.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.
    2 Ramon: nothing surprising in the article to me. Actually, it's what I've been saying here for the last few months, and I don't know any players or anyone connected to the USSF. Some things are just too obvious. Klinsmann is an unmitigated disaster for US soccer.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.
    I also find it interesting that Klinsmann is supposed to be such a fitness guru, yet the US team under Klinsmann has always seemed to be less fit than their opponents. We're often dragging towards the end of games, hoping to just make it to the final whistle. Yet, under Bradley and Arena the US teams were always known if for nothing else their excellent fitness level, able to outrun any opponent.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 7:45 p.m.
    Ramon, I think players like this are the once JK is trying to push out: “They want us to play the beautiful game, but we’re not a technical team like the Germans. We’re not Spain or Brazil,” the player said. “What we’re good at is we work hard, we fight and we compete. We have great athletes and we’re a good counterattacking team. Maybe we need to go back to what we’re good at.” This is a recent quote, not out of the 90's though it's hard to tell. Going back to the Bob Bradley well is not going to get us into the quarters in Brazil. The player quoted above is not identified, but Kick and Run cannot be the only plan. Yes, it has worked on one occasion against Spain, but the top 10 teams all play Possession. I think if you're looking ahead, and assume we will qualify somewhere in the top 4, these experiments are necessary to get US players used to playing real soccer. Having said that, I still believe JK is better equipped for Sunil's job, which is to build our youth systems around Claudio's 4-3-3.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 19, 2013 at 8:17 p.m.
    You guys are tunnel vision many players on the USMNT can withstand pressure and not put a teammate under pressure; how many of them make things happen, and how many of them play simple and efficient soccer, and handle adversity. It's the right nuances of the game that are missing

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.
    David - why do you think Klinsmann is an "unmitigated disaster"?

  1. Kent James
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.
    JK has his work cut out for him; we do have one of the easiest paths to qualification (just be in the top 3 in a region with one other real power, and we have the fallback of 4th and a play-in match), so if we can't make it out, we should probably be thankful since only embarrassment would await us. I like JK but never thought he would be a savior. I don't agree with some of his selections (mainly the reliance on Jermaine Jones), and have been disappointed the he's seemed to focus on a very defensive mindset (especially in his selection of midfielders), but I like his positive attitude. I guess for me, the crux of the matter is how do the players think about him? If they're behind him, then things should be fine. If there are divisions in the camp, or they've lost faith in him, then Houston, we have a problem....

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