Skip to content

United States roster falling to pieces ahead of remaining 2014 World Cup qualifiers

Sep 30, 2013, 8:02 PM EDT

Jurgen Klinsmann has the likes of Altidore, Dempsey, Donovan and Bradley to choose from. Reuters

It’s a little early to wonder if Jurgen Klinsmann has recently built a home on ancient burial ground and has been cursed for it – but you have to admit, the national team’s run of misfortune lately is a bit strange, eh?

Klinsmann was quite clear, and immediately so upon qualifying officially for the 2014 World Cup: he wanted his best players for those last two qualifiers. He seemed downright confused by any suggestion of doing anything else.

You may see them as meaningless, and it’s true that next week’s match against Jamaica in Kansas City and the final round closer four nights later in Panama won’t mean a thing for the United States in the official picture. (The U.S. schedule is here.) They are going to Brazil, and finishing atop the six-team group probably will not impact the United States’ ability to get a more favorable tournament draw in December.

But Klinsmann (pictured along with Clint Dempsey) will tell you that opportunities to fine tune and tweak between now and next summer are precious and few, and squandering these chances to reinforce all good tenets and to further fuse the combinations is wasteful.

Either way, he’s not going to have that chance over the next couple of weeks; his plan to use these upcoming qualifiers for further World Cup prep is unraveling, and quickly so.

Let’s look at the first-choice players who will not be available, or who will be limited in their fitness and abilities due to recent injuries:

Michael Bradley could return to the training field for Roma this week, but his ongoing ankle injury makes a trip to the United States seem less and less likely. Everybody should know by now that Bradley is the one absolutely indispensable piece to this U.S. puzzle, so any efforts at a top performance begins with their midfield glue.

Clint Dempsey’s hamstring issue (Where did he get this thing? No one seems to know.) has kept the U.S. attacker out of Seattle’s last two matches. Even if Dempsey’s condition improves, Seattle is likely to lobby for keeping him, for playoff positioning and Supporters Shield pursuits next week. Considering Dempsey is Major League Soccer’s top wage earner, it seems like a reasonable request.

(MORE: U.S. Soccer and Jones refute reports of injury)

Jermaine Jones’ status may be up in the air; reports out of Germany say surgery will have Jones on the shelf for a few weeks. But Jones and U.S. Soccer are refuting those reports, so stay tuned on this one. Either way, if Jones has a knee issue, it’s fair to wonder if Schalke will be excited about extra travel and matches that are, officially speaking, meaningless.

U.S. center back Clarence Goodson was a scratch from Sunday’s match at Chivas USA after suffering a bone bruise on the knee in the Earthquakes’ previous contest. Goodson, recall, was the starter alongside Omar Gonzalez as the United States clinched its spot earlier this month with the win over Mexico. Goodson may have slipped lately on the depth chart (blame young up-and-comer Anthony Brooks for that), but his steady night against El Tri reminded everyone that a tested, reliable veteran is great to have around.

Word came Monday that Fabian Johnson has an ankle injury and may not be available for Hoffenheim’s match Saturday at Mainz 05. If Johnson does not play there, expect some reluctance from Hoffenheim to release their left-sided defender-midfielder for international duty.

source: Getty ImagesLandon Donovan (pictured below) was back on the field for the Galaxy on Sunday in Seattle, so he is likely to be on Klinsmann’s list when the team gathers next week in Kansas City. But whether the Galaxy man will be at full-fitness (and therefor full effectiveness) is another matter.

There is one other element potentially destructive to Klinsmann’s plan: how will MLS teams feel about losing players for “meaningless” contests with significant implications in their one, league contests on the line? Think about Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey, all locks to make the final 23-man roster for Brazil. If there isn’t some push back from Sporting Kansas City, the LA Galaxy and Seattle, I’ll be surprised.

(Goodson, too, for that matter, as San Jose’s playoff chances remain in the balance, and the Earthquakes are sure to want their best bunch whenever possible.)

There will still be plenty to work with in the U.S. camp. Jozy Altidore will likely relish some time away from the pit of despair that Sunderland has become. There will be mutual benefit of having Aron Johannsson, so fabulously in form at Alkmaar, in another U.S. camp, especially as the Icelandic American has been in so few sessions under Klinsmann so far. That’s just to name a couple.

And, of course, every absence is an opportunity for someone else to climb the food chain. For instance, if Johnson cannot play at right back, Geoff Cameron may get another look there – and wouldn’t it be nice to see what the Stoke City man can do at the position when the opposition isn’t high-flying Belgium?

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: “I Was There” visits Chelsea fans across the country as Mourinho’s men clinch the title

    May 5, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    If you’d like your supporters group to be featured on future episodes of ‘I Was There’ simply send pictures/video to @NBCSportsSoccer or on NBC Sports Soccer on Facebook using the #IWasThere hashtag.

  2. MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 0-1 San Jose Earthquakes

    May 5, 2015, 10:46 PM EDT

    Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes Getty Images

    Adam Jahn scored with his head while David Bingham made a big penalty stop to lead San Jose to all three points.

  3. UEFA Champions League preview: Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich

    May 5, 2015, 9:43 PM EDT

    Pep Guardiola faces his former club when Bayern Munich travels to Camp Nou to take on Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal matchup.

  4. Emmanuel Adebayor hits out at his family in bizarre Facebook post

    May 5, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    The struggling Tottenham striker seems to have more problems than just scoring goals.

  5. Carlo Ancelotti still upbeat despite Real Madrid’s loss to Juventus

    May 5, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    The Real Madrid boss is confident his side can overcome the 2-1 deficit following a first leg defeat in Italy.

  6. Africa’s richest man hopes to buy Arsenal

    May 5, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    The Davos World Economic Forum 2015 The Davos World Economic Forum 2015

    Aliko Dangote has a net worth of nearly $16 billion, and he wants to use some of that cash to buy the Gunners.

  7. Patrice Evra praises Carlos Tevez’s play, says striker has “United blood”

    May 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-TRAINING FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-TRAINING

    The duo won the Champions League together with Manchester United in 2008, and Patrice Evra thinks that gives them an edge with Juventus.

  8. Three things we learned from Juventus vs. Real Madrid

    May 5, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REALMADRID FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REALMADRID

    The Italian champs take a slender lead to the Spanish capital with them after a classic European encounter.

  9. Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid: Tevez penalty lifts Juve over defending champs

    May 5, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    Tevez stole the show as Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin. Tevez stole the show as Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin.

    A second-half penalty from Carlos Tevez led Juventus to a big home win over Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.

  10. Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge undergoes hip surgery

    May 5, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

    The Reds’ striker will now begin his rehabilitation towards next season after a disappointing campaign riddled with injuries.

  11. Newcastle captain pens open letter apologizing for recent nosedive

    May 5, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT

    Coloccini Getty Images

    The captain came to his team’s defense, but it ended up coming out quite awkward.

  12. LIVE – UEFA Champions League semifinal: Can Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin?

    May 5, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-FIORENTINA FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-FIORENTINA

    The Italian champions welcome the reigning European champions to Turin for the first leg of their semifinal. Follow all the action live.

  13. Rais Mbolhi rejoins Philadelphia Union, back training in full

    May 5, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT

    Mbohli Getty Images

    Thought to be on his way out, Rais Mbolhi is back with the club. For now.

  14. Injured Oscar out of Brazil squad for upcoming Copa America

    May 5, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT

    Oscar Getty Images

    Oscar hasn’t appeared since his collision with David Ospina, but Dunga says the midfielder’s injury is training related.

  15. Will Chelsea offer Didier Drogba a new contract? Should they?

    May 5, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    Drogba Getty Images

    Didier Drogba is 37 years old, but still represents the best option for his role that Chelsea can buy.

  16. US Soccer adds Guatemala to summer friendly list days before Gold Cup

    May 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Guatemala AP

    Just four days before opening the Gold Cup, the US will host a familiar CONCACAF opponent.

  17. Report: Newcastle in for Aleksandar Mitrovic, agree to $22 million fee

    May 5, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT

    Mitrovic Getty Images

    Newcastle appears to have lofty goals, but the prospects of bringing a Champions League striker to St. James Park while trying to stave off relegation appear grim.

  18. American defender Will Packwood released by Birmingham City, while Spector’s extended

    May 5, 2015, 8:38 AM EDT

    Packwood Getty Images

    The 21-year-old Packwood saw his playing time significantly diminished this season, and finished the year on loan in League Two. Meanwhile, his experienced teammate Jonathan Spector is staying on.

  19. Reports: Chelsea gearing up contract extension talks with Mourinho

    May 5, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Mourinho Getty Images

    With Jose Mourinho “here to stay” Chelsea has looked to make that sentiment official.

Featured video

Week 35: Premier League recap