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Injury jinx hits often in send-off series
by Paul Kennedy, May 26th, 2014 3:46PM

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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup

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[USA MEN] U.S. Soccer has organized send-off or warmup series before every World Cup since 1990. That doesn't mean things have always gone well. Just ask Claudio Reyna, whose was expected to a star at USA '94 until an injury in the final warm-up sidelined him, Chris Armas, Gregg Vanney and Cory Gibbs, whose World Cup dreams were shattered by knee injuries suffered in send-off matches.

1990. To show how far the national team program has come in the last quarter century, the USA's send-off series before Italia '90 consisted of two matches a month before the tournament against Malta at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Poland in Hershey, Pa. It would be unimaginable that the USA would play in Hershey today. The games were followed by warmups in Liechtenstein and Switzerland before the USA headed to its camp in Florence.

1994. The host USA played 18 games -- count 'em, 18 -- before opening against Switzerland in the Silverdome. The final game was a 1-0 win over Mexico before 91,123 fans at the Rose Bowl. The game -- which drew the largest crowd until that point for a USA-Mexico game in the United States -- was marred by a hamstring strain to Claudio Reyna, who came straight out of the University of Virginia and earned a starting job in midfield only to miss the entire World Cup because of the nagging injury.

1998. In a 3-0 win at Austria in April, Steve Sampson had introduced the 3-6-1 formation with which the USA started France '98, but signs of trouble were evident in the three-game warm-up series that featured a 2-0 win over Kuwait and 0-0 ties with Macedonia and Scotland.

2002. The injury jinx hit in full force as Chris Armas, expected to be a key player in midfield, tore his ACL in the 16th minute of the first match of the send-off series against Uruguay. To compound matters, Armas' replacement, Gregg Vanney, tore his MCL in the next game against Jamaica and was lost for the tournament. To top things off, Steve Cherundolo, Vanney's replacement, himself was injured in training shortly before the World Cup started and missed the entire tournament.

2006. The injury jinx hit again in 2006 as Frankie Hejduk, a veteran of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, had to be scratched a day after the U.S. roster was announcement when a knee injury originally picked up days earlier in an MLS match flared up. Chris Albright, one of 13 alternates, took Hejduk's spot on the U.S. roster. In the first warm-up game against Morocco, another defender, Cory Gibbs sustained a knee injury and was replaced by Gregg Berhalter. Reyna strained his hamstring in the Morocco game but went on to captain the USA in Germany. The lackluster showing against modest opponents in the send-off series -- 1-0 loss to Morocco, 2-0 win over Venezuela and 1-0 win over Latvia -- was indicative of the trouble to come.

2010. Bob Bradley's World Cup roster cuts came after the first of two friendlies, a 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic. Six players who played in the game did not make the final 23. Of the six, just Alejandro Bedoya came back to make this year's 23.


5 comments
  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: May 26, 2014 at 7:31 p.m.
    So for those who see the glass being half-full, then having JK announce the team this early is/could be a blessing in disguise??? Aren't there three players on the final 23 coming off injuries???

  1. Glenn Maddock
    commented on: May 26, 2014 at 8:40 p.m.
    The point being that the current 23 is unlikely to be the final 23 for the opening WC match vs Ghana. Something will happen to someone in the 4 matches prior. Calling Landon Donovan!

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: May 26, 2014 at 11:28 p.m.
    I don't like the tone of this topic/discussion. Nobody wishes bad things to other players just to get his/her favorite player on the team. Every one should wish all the 23 players well throughout the preparation period. None of them is responsible for what happened to Donovan and they all deserve our support. Go USA.

  1. Mark Hardt
    commented on: May 27, 2014 at 2:48 p.m.
    After Donovan's public statement about being one of the top 23 and the media battle with Jonathan Klinsman you can be assured if a forward gets injured Terrence Boyd is going.

  1. Bruce Moorhead
    commented on: May 27, 2014 at 3:10 p.m.
    Paul Kennedy - excellent summary, Mark and Gus - agree with you both. Hard to imagine JK would recall Donovan or Goodson after their public comments. Mistakes that JK would not rectify.


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