[USA MEN] Injuries or illness forced eight foreign-based players -- four last-minute casualties -- to miss the March World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and
Mexico, while Jermaine Jones had to return to Germany after injuring his foot in the 1-0 win over the Ticos. The positive side of the two-week break was that it
gave many of the players a chance to heal. Most should be available for action when league play resumes this weekend.
EDGAR CASTILLO. After opening with four straight wins to follow up on their Torneo Apertura championship, Tijuana has won only one of its last seven games so it could use Castillo back. The left back is set to return after suffering broken facial bones on March 2. He'll wear a protective face-mask if he plays against Toluca on Saturday in a rematch of the Apertura final. After that, the Xolos resume Libertadores Cup play on Wednesday at Bolivia's San Jose.
TIMMY CHANDLER. Chandler pulled out of the U.S. squad with a calf injury picked up in the Nuremberg's game against Schalke 04 two days before he was supposed to report to the U.S. camp in Colorado. On Tuesday, Nuremberg coach Michael Wiesinger said Chandler had returned to training. Nuremberg's next game is Sunday at Wolfsburg.
STEVE CHERUNDOLO. It's been more than three months since Cherundolo played for Hannover 96. The club captain had knee surgery on Feb. 6 and only resumed training last week. The 34-year-old right back said the big thing he needs is stamina. He was scheduled to meet this week with Hannover 96 coach Mirko Slomka to see whether he'd be available for Saturday's game against Augsburg.
TIM HOWARD. Howard picked up two broken bones in his back in Everton's FA Cup match against Oldham. He missed Everton's last three games, ending his streak of consecutive EPL starts 210 games. Jan Mucha could continue in goal with Howard still recovering when Everton faces Stoke City on Saturday.
FABIAN JOHNSON. The 25-year-old left back missed Hoffenheim's last two games after suffering a hip injury in practice. The injury was deemed minor bit it was serious enough to keep Johnson from joining the USA for the matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. His status for Saturday's game against Schalke 04 is uncertain.
JERMAINE JONES. The midfielder suffered a puncture wound in his foot that required stitches at halftime of the USA's 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Colorado. He played almost the entire game against the Ticos but returned to Germany afterwards. Schalke 04 said he'd likely miss Saturday's game against Hoffenheim. It was a rough week for Schalke 04 players on national team duty. Julian Draxler (concussion) and Benedikt Hoewedes (muscular injury) had to return to Gelsenkirchen before Germany's second game against Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
JONATHAN SPECTOR. An ankle injury suffered just 30 seconds into Birmingham City's game against Middlesbrough cost Spector a spot on the U.S. roster for the first time in the Hexagonal, but he hopes to be back in action as early as Friday against Crystal Palace. Blues manager Lee Clark said at the end of last week that Spector's ankle was sore but improving after tests revealed no ligament damage.
JOSE TORRES. A minor hamstring injury suffered in first-place Tigres' game against Guadalajara forced "Gringo" to pull out of the qualifiers, but he should return for Sunday's against Puebla. Tigres enters the weekend with an unbeaten record (seven wins and four wins) and a two-point lead over Atlas.
DANNY WILLIAMS. Williams started and played the entire game in Hoffenheim's last game before the international break, a 0-0 tie with Mainz, but he withdrew from the U.S. squad because he was then taken ill.