Here’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann assessing the USMNT’s upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda (Friday, 7:00 pm ET, beIN Sports) and Guatemala (Tues, Oct 16, 7:00 ESPN2):
Not long after the clip was released, U.S. Soccer announced that left backs Fabian Johnson (flu) and Edgar Castillo (ankle) had been ruled out of action—a development that came on the heels of the news that attackers Landon Donovan and Brek Shea would also miss out due to injury.
Incredibly, all four players recently sidelined—two of whom came into camp with ailments that Klinsmann knew about—are (or can be, in Donovan’s case) left-sided players.
There is now one left-footed player, Carlos Bocanegra, remaining among the 17 outfield players that will travel to A&B. Bocanegra will almost certainly play left back, but left midfield remains an open question.
Whoever gets the call there will be playing out of position—and likely looking to cut inside on his preferred right foot all game. So much for wide play on the left side—in a game that Klinsmann has acknowledged will require crosses from the flanks to unlock a packed-in backline.
There are also four players carrying yellow cards who will miss the Guatemala game if they pick up another one against A&B.
For their part, Antigua and Barbuda face no pressure, and are treating the U.S.’s visit as the game of their lives, an opportunity for an historic result, with no downside.
The U.S. still has the talent to win tomorrow, but it will be very interesting to watch the suddenly shorthanded group deal with the challenge, knowing anything less than three points will nudge them to the brink of catastrophe.