Weakened U.S. team readies for Costa Rica and Mexico

The U.S. men’s national team face two crucial World Cup qualifying games with a team weakened by injuries. Photo: Carlos Bocanegra is left of U.S. soccer team by coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2013 — The U.S. men’s national team face two crucial World Cup qualifying games with a team weakened by injuries to at least eight key players.

Edgar Castillo (facial fractures), Timmy Chandler (hamstring), Steve Cherundolo (knee), Tim Howard (back), Fabian Johnson (hip), Jonathan Spector (ankle), Jose Torres (hamstring) and Danny Williams (illness) are all absent as the team prepares to face Costa Rica and Mexico. Veteran defender Carlos Bocanegra was not even called into the squad. Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Bocanegra was not “fresh and fit” because he is not getting playing time with his Spanish team Racing Santander.

Klinsmann has called up 23 players for the upcoming qualifiers against Costa Rica at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on March 22 and four days later at Mexico. The Americans are still seeking the team’s first-ever World Cup qualifying win on Mexico’s home soil at the Estadio Azteca.

“We know we have a big task ahead of us, and we are confident our group will get the job done,” said Klinsmann. “Obviously there are many players out with injuries, and that means the next person in line has a chance to step up. Getting points at home in World Cup qualifying is huge, and we are looking forward to having an awesome crowd supporting us in Denver on Friday night.”

On paper, Klinsmann’s backline lacks experience and appears weak with only Geoff Cameron and Clarence Goodson tested in such high-profile games.

Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan will replace Howard in goal who is suffering a back injury. Guzan has three shutouts in five matches played in qualifying in his career, posting a 3-1-1 record. Guzan started in the 2-0 win against Guatemala on Nov. 19, 2008,  at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Veteran DaMarcus Beasley is back on the team as is Brek Shea. Beasley has 26 career caps in World Cup qualifying, tied with Jeff Agoos for fifth most in U.S. history. He sits on 97 appearances overall.

Four players are carrying yellow cards: Michael Bradley, Dempsey, Maurice Edu and Zusi. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension and they will miss the game in Mexico.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England - 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/England - 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy - 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark - 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes - 0/0)

MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico - 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake - 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy - 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico - 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor/Turkey - 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany - 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium - 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City/England - 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City - 4/0)

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands - 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria - 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England - 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico - 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC - 12/10)

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John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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