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US Men’s National Team – Antigua & Barbuda Preview

2012 October 11

The US Men’s National Team is entering their last two games in the third round of qualifying tied in points with Jamaica and Guatemala, but sitting in second thanks to goal differential. Tomorrow the team will take on Antigua & Barbuda at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua. Antigua & Barbuda are sitting in the expected bottom spot of the group and won’t be expecting to move up, but the team has performed better at home including holding Jamaica to a 0-0 tie.

Unfortunately for the US, the team is bringing a depleted roster to Antigua. Midfielders Landon Donovan and Brek Shea have been ruled out of both of the remaining qualifiers due to a knee injury and an abdominal strain respectively. Also crossed of the list were left backs Fabian Johnson because of the flu and Edgar Castillo who has an unspecified foot injury. Klinsmann has not named any replacements to the roster leaving the entire left side of the starting line-up questionable for an essentially must-win game.

With our first choice and back-up at left back gone, that leaves Klinsmann with the familiar issue of filling the void against Antigua & Barbuda. Carlos Bocanegra has played left back for club and country in the past and is naturally left-footed so he seems to be the best choice, but his speed has never been his best trait and Michael Parkhurst is versatile enough to slide over to the left to leave Bocanegra in the center with Geoff Cameron who has done very well with Stoke City in England. Rounding off the back four should be Steve Cherundolo at his permanent home on the right.

Despite Brad Guzan finally getting his chance as a starter at Aston Villa, the current standings mean Guzan will be returning to the backup role while Tim Howard will look to get his first shutout of qualifying.

The US midfield may be missing Donovan and Shea, but the team will be helped out by the return of Michael Bradley. Assuming Bradley is actually back to full fitness he could see a starting role in the middle, but who he will be paired up with is more of a question. Both Edu and Jones are carrying yellows and could end up missing the more important game against Guatemala if they are cautioned. Kyle Beckerman or Danny Williams are much safer choices for our defensive midfielder. The return of Sacha Kljestan to the US National Team could also lead to his return to a starting lineup on the left flank with Graham Zusi running the opposite side.

The larger story of the US roster is up top with Jozy Altidore not getting a call to camp and the inclusion of Alan Gordon and return of Eddie Johnson to the US roster. Altidore has not met the expectations placed upon him thus far in qualifying despite leading the Dutch League in scoring this season, and Klinsmann made the decision to leave him off the roster to see how he reacts. This is Alan Gordon’s second time getting called into a National Team camp, but with his 31st birthday quickly approaching, he is being brought in for more of a tactical reason. After four years of struggling his way around Europe, Eddie Johnson has returned to the MLS and has 14 goals in 26 appearances. If Johnson sees the field he will be looking to get his first international goal since 2008. Taking the starting roles will be Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez, who together have scored 5 of the US’s 6 goals so far in qualifying while appearing in every game as well.

Kick-off is set for 6:00 PM CST and will be aired on beIN SPORT

4 Responses
  1. Soccer Boy permalink
    October 11, 2012

    I am sorry, but I really do not see the Shea injury as being a loss to the USMNT. While Shea does have some moves, I have never really seen him rise to the occasion when he needs to play well. I am also not seeing why all the USMT faithful are uptight we will be missing Donovan. We are playing a small island nation of Antigua & Barbuda. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought their national team was mainly made up of mostly D3 players, who would have a hard time making an impact in even the NASL.

  2. yankiboy permalink
    October 11, 2012

    @Soccer Boy: Why are some of the US fans worried about the absence of LD???

    In the words of my then 6 year old daughter last November when the Nats and my brother travelled to Paris for the friendly against Les Bleus:

    (Shrugging her shoulders as she proceeded to give me her USMNT analysis)

    “Landon isn’t go to play, Papi?!? WHY isn’t Landon to play??? When Landon doesn’t play USA LOSES!!!”

    Sure, it was an oversimplification (the kid was 6)! But as they say”out of the mouths of babes…”

    Really sad when a 6 year old is painfully aware of how ineffective the US looks when the most clutch field player that we ever had can’t go…

    I honestly couldn’t argue with the girl but I still told her that “good” fans have to believe that their team has a chance, even when it doesn’t look like it does.

    After the US went on to make her prediction a reality, she said to me with a disgusted look on her face:

    “I told you so, Papi!!! USA LOSES when Landon doesn’t play!!!

    We shouldn’t have to be so dependent on Donovan as we are but that squad has a tendency to give subpar performances when dude ain’t around. Yeah, they should beat Antigua & Barbuda but we’ve seen them struggle in matches that shouldn’t have been so difficult on paper-at least not now that we have Herr Klinsmann at the helm. He was supposed to do what Bob Bradley couldn’t do-help the team progress to the point of achieving consistently successful performances…

  3. tomASS permalink
    October 12, 2012

    @yankiboy….. “when the most clutch field player that we ever had ”

    What a sorry statement in regard to US National Team player personnel history

  4. Soccer Boy permalink
    October 12, 2012

    Glad to see we pulled it out to night. There needs to be change at USSF, and I think that change starts with a new leader in the front office.

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