Shorthanded Americans face critical qualifiers.
By Robert Wagman
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday, March 22, 2017) -- A number of key United States players have gone down to injury and will miss two upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.
On Friday, the U.S. faces Honduras in San Jose Calif., a match televised on Fox Sports 1 and Spanish-language UniMás at 10:30 p.m. (ET).
On Tuesday, the Americans travel to play Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City at 10 p.m. ET on beIN Sports and Spanish-language Telemundo and NBC Universo). U.S. men’s coach Bruce Arena will certainly have to field a squad that is quite different from the one he originally contemplated hwne he recently took over the job..
Several of the injuries have occurred since Arena originally named his 23-player roster last week. That roster contained a number of choices different from what those who would have been selected had ousted coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Arena’s choices contained several surprises, both unexpected players who were included and players who unexpectedly were left off.
Even before the original roster was named, English-based defenders Eric Lichaj and DeAndre Yedlin were injured and out. Also absent was Eintracht Frankfurt right back/midfielder Timmy Chandler who is suspended for the first game (yellow-card accumulation). Arena deemed it not worthwhile to bring him from Germany to apparently to act as a backup for just the Panama game.econd match.
Then, key striker Bobby Wood, of Hamburg in Germany, injured his back in league play this past weekend and defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson was ruled out with a hamstring ailment.
Wood, who would have teamed with Jozy Altidore up top, Johnson, who would have started either on the back-line or in the midfield, and Yedlin, a sure starter at right back, leave Arena with some difficult decisions..
On a more positive note, veteran attacker Clint Dempsey, who has been sidelined since last season with a heart ailment and Stoke City center back Geoff Cameron, who has rehabbed a strained medial collateral ligament, have returned.
Dempsey has gone the distance for Major League Soccer’s opening two matches of 2017, while Cameron has played 90 minutes for Stoke City in it last three matches in the English Premier League. .
Add veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has started the MLS season strong for the Colorado rapids and there are three players who well may have been absent from a Klinsmann roster.
It looks certain that Howard will start both games in goal because Brad Guzan has withdrawn because of the impending birth of his second child. He has been replaced on the roster by David Bingham of MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes.
Midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Graham Zusi, a right-wing-turned-right-back whose absence from the original 23 were surprising, have now been called in to replace Wood and Johnson. Defender Matt Besler has been added to bolster those available for back-line duty.
Included in Arena’s original 23 was midfielder Jermaine Jones, suspended from the Honduras match for yellow cards, but who has become an apparent Arena favorite and a sure starter against Panama.
Included also were back-liners Michael Orozco, Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream, though Steve Birnbaum was omitted. . This seems to make Orozco the apparent starter at right back in place of the injured Yedlin. Jorge Villafaña, who plays in Mexico, might be the big winner from Arena’s winter camp and looks to be the starter at left back.
Recently, two who have been playing well in Europe are midfielders Perry Kitchen and Danny Williams, who have been speculated as first-line reserves for the U.S. men. Yet, neither are being called in. Likewise, attacker Julian Green, midfielder Benny Feilhaber and Paul Arriola were omitted.
Feilhaber and Green both could have been starters from Klinsmann. In their place Arena has selected a pair of MLS midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Sebastian Lletget, who played for Arena at the Galaxy. Arena also chose another two from MLS -- Dax McCarty and Kellyn Acosta of FC Dallas. One might start in place of the suspended Jones against Honduras.
Maybe the biggest surprise was the inclusion of defender DaMarcus Beasley, who started for Arena in the 2002 World Cup and thenn everyone since. He still has pace, and, with his vast experience at the international level, gives Arena a veteran to fall back on if necessary.
Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes; Major League Soccer), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids, MLS), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; MLS).
Defenders (10): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City, MLS), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin, Germany) Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana, Mexico, MLS), Tim Ream (Fulham, England), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, Mexico), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas, MLS), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City, MLS).
Midfielders (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas, MLS), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union, MLS), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, MLS), Jermaine Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls, MLS), Sebastian Lletget (Los Angeles, MLS), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire, MLS), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers, MLS), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, Germany)
Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC, MLS), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, MLS), Jordan Morris (Seattle, MLS), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS).
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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