Clint Dempsey Out for Fulham Finale

U.S. attacker and badass Texan Clint Dempsey suffered a groin injury and will miss Fulham’s final Premier League match of the 2011-12 season Sunday at Tottenham.

The Nacogdoches, Texas, native finishes the season with 23 goals across all competitions and 17 in the Premier League, numbers that add up to the best European season ever for an American outfield player.

His most recent goal, a sizzling free kick against Sunderland last weekend, lifted his career total in the Prem to 50—tops for a U.S. player.

Now the 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year will relax, reflect on a terrific season, and rehab the groin strain—in time, hopefully, for the United States’ first 2014 World Cup qualifier in one month’s time.

A Dislocated Elbow Is Every Bit as Uncomfortable as it Sounds, Carlos Rodriguez Will Attest

FC Dallas tied Real Salt Lake 1-1 in Frisco, Texas, last night, but the main postgame talking point was this freak injury to Hoops winger Carlos Rodriguez:

We’ve witnessed one of those in person, and had a reaction pretty much identical to that of Javier Morales in the above clip.

Dallas went ahead 1-0 just before halftime, when RSL defender Tony Beltran was whistled for a dubious handball in the box and Brek Shea buried the spot kick. Real Salt Lake’s euphoniously named rookie Emiliano Bonfigli equalized in the 72nd minute, settling a chip from Will Johnson and firing the ball past FCD’s backup ’keeper Chris Seitz.

Complete highlights here:

The tie leaves FC Dallas with a 3-3-2 record heading into Saturday’s game at Los Angeles, while Real Salt Lake—winless in their last three and winless alltime in the state of Texas (it’s true)—stand at 5-3-1. They host 0-6-0 Toronto on Saturday.

Oguchi Onyewu Injures Knee, Will Miss Eight Weeks

Tomorrow, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann will announce his roster for the Feb 29 friendly against Italy. Sadly, we know one player who will not be on it: hulking defender Oguchi Onyewu.

The Sporting CP centerback tore ligaments and the meniscus in his right knee on Sunday and will miss eight weeks after undergoing surgery. The injury comes just as the 29-year-old was finally regaining his top form after an October 2009 injury to his left knee (ruptured patellar tendon).

It’s a big setback for the player, obviously, and it creates a void  in the center of the U.S. backline, where Gooch was almost certain to start come World Cup qualifying in June.

He was also a shoo-in for next Wednesday’s match in Italy (2:30 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN3, Galavision). It will be interesting to see who gets Klinsmann’s call tomorrow. Most observers are expecting a heavy influx of European-based talent (for centerbacks: Zak Whitbread? Tim Ream?), but don’t count out Geoff Cameron, currently in preseason camp with the Houston Dynamo.

U.S.–France Preview: Gooch to Sit Out with Injury

The U.S. national team takes on France at the Stade de France in Paris this afternoon (3:00 ET, ESPN2), and centerback Oguchi Onyewu has been ruled out of the match with a minor injury.

He is not in the 18-man gameday roster, which looks like this:

Starting XI: Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Timothy Chandler; Kyle Beckerman; Danny Williams, Maurice Edu, Brek Shea; Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore

Bench: Bill Hamid, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, DaMarcus Beasley, Edson Buddle.

Here is the U.S. Federation’s match preview:

Enjoy the game, folks.

Keane Tops Galaxy’s List of Walking Wounded as Playoffs Approach

Galaxy striker Robbie Keane pulled his groin—excuse us, strained his adductor muscle—while on international duty with Ireland this past Friday and could miss up to four weeks of MLS action.

Keane suffered the injury during Ireland’s 2-0 win over Andorra in Group B Euro 2012 qualifying, but played the entire match. He reported increased pain over the weekend, and was ruled out of Ireland’s final Group B game yesterday, a 2-1 win over Armenia. He returned to LA today and will be evaluated by the Galaxy’s medical staff.

The MLS playoffs start on Oct 26; if Keane is sidelined a full month, he’d be out until the conference championships—if LA gets that far—on Nov 5 or 6.

And the Ireland captain—who has three goals in seven games in all competitions for LA—is not the only key Galaxy player on the shelf at the moment:

• Landon Donovan, the team’s leading scorer, withdrew from the recent U.S. friendlies with a quadriceps strain and has not put a timetable on his return.

• Defender Sean Franklin has been out since Sept 17 with knee inflammation. He hopes to return on Oct 20, when the Galaxy take on Motagua in their CCL group-stage finale.

First-choice goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and midfielders Mike Magee and Chris Birchall have all missed action recently due to injuries, but are expected to be available for Sunday’s Superclasico against Chivas USA.

LA’s crosstown rivals,  of course, now feature Juan Pablo Angel, the man Keane replaced on the Galaxy. While Keane has missed time due to international duty and injury, Angel has scored seven goals in seven games for the Goats.

If It Wasn’t for Bad Luck, Stuart Holden Wouldn’t Have No Luck At All

Yesterday, we posted about U.S. and Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden’s latest setback, which was that he needed follow-up surgery on the knee he injured six months ago.

The initial word was that Holden would miss just six weeks of action following the procedure, but the news went from bad to worse after doctors began the operation late Wednesday night.

They discovered cartilage damage that will keep the 26-year-old midfielder sidelined for the next six months.

This latest blow is devastating for the player (and for Bolton and the U.S.), and it’s also part of a disturbing trend in Holden’s career, dating back to 2005, when he left Clemson University after his sophomore year to go on trial with Sunderland.

Let’s break down the bad breaks:

March 2005—Just weeks after joining Sunderland, Holden was attacked outside a bar in Newcastle and suffered a broken eye socket that kept him out of action for two months.

May 2005—Holden returned to training with the Black Cats, only to injure his ankle and miss the rest of the season.

March 2010—After establishing himself at Bolton and signing a new three-year deal with the club, Holden was set to play a big role for the U.S. at South Africa 2010. Then he had his leg broken by Nigel de Jong of the Netherlands in a March 3 friendly.

• March 2011—In the midst of his best season ever, Holden was consistently the highest-rated player for Bolton—until he clashed with Jonny Evans in a sliding tackle at Old Trafford on March 19. He suffered a torn ACL and a gash that required 26 stitches.

Sept 2011 —Eight days after returning from the six-month layoff for the knee injury … Holden was dealt this latest blow.

Stuart Holden—born under a bad sign.

This Week In Stuart Holden-Can’t-Catch-A-Break News…

U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden, who required 26 stitches and a knee operation after the above challenge with Manchester United’s Jonny Evans six months ago, has learned that he needs follow-up surgery and will miss an additional six weeks.

Club doctors had originally targeted next summer for the operation, but decided it needed to be moved up.

Holden had just returned from the initial injury, appearing in an FA Cup game against Aston Villa last Tuesday, with the Guardian writing of his performance:

“The visitors [Bolton] certainly looked the hungrier side in the early stages. Stuart Holden, making his return after six months out injured, looked as though he had never been away, and his distribution, along with Fabrice Muamba’s physicality, gave Bolton a clear edge in midfield, where Villa looked distinctly lightweight.”

Holden broke his leg in March 2010 after a nasty challenge by the Netherlands’ Nigel de Jong and saw limited playing time at South Africa 2010 as a result.

If there’s a silver lining in Holden’s bad luck with injuries, it’s the attitude he’s developed in response. Here he is on Twitter after the latest setback:

“Obviously I’m disappointed as I’ve worked so hard the last six months, but in the grand scale of things it’s only a minor blip.”

The blip will keep him out of the U.S.’s October friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador.

Rosales Has Slight MCL Tear, Will Miss Two to Four Weeks

For the fourth time this season, an MVP-caliber player has been sidelined by a reckless tackle in MLS action.

Fortunately for Seattle, the damage is relatively limited this time around, as Sounders winger Mauro Rosales suffered only a slight MCL tear after a needless challenge by DC United defender Daniel Woolard in the 90th minute of Seattle’s 3-0 win this past Saturday.

Rosales could return as early as Oct 3, the eve of Seattle’s US Open Cup final against Chicago.

The 30-year-old Argentine, who has five goals and a club-record 12 assists this season, joins Dallas’s 2010 league MVP David Ferreira, Seattle’s speedy winger Steve Zakuani, and Real Salt Lake’s playmaker Javier Morales as highly skilled players who suffered unsettling injuries in MLS action this year. (Ferreira and Morales both hope to return in time for the MLS playoffs; Zakuani is out for the year.)

Rosales is not only an MVP candidate, he’s also hands-down the best bargain in the league right now. The former Ajax and River Plate star, who has 10 caps and one goal for Argentina, is making just $42,000 for Seattle. Look for that to change next year.

Casey Out for the Season with Torn Achilles Tendon

In the 38th minute of Colorado’s game at Seattle this past Sunday, Rapids forward Conor Casey laid off a pass near the right sideline and went down awkwardly, under no contact with another player.

It didn’t look good, and the news after yesterday’s MRI is not good, either: Casey ruptured his left Achilles tendon and will be sidelined for eight months. He’s scheduled for surgery tomorrow.

Casey had just been hitting his stride after missing time earlier in the season with a minor injury. He was the team’s leading scorer this year with six goals, and he is also the Rapids all-time leading scorer, with an impressive strike rate of 48 goals in 100 appearances.

One of the knocks on Casey at the international level was a perceived lack of mobility, but, having watched him in MLS during the past few years, we’d have to say the charge is overblown. He covers a lot of ground for a target forward, and does it fairly quickly.  He’s also got good feet for a player his size, and, as his numbers attest, he does the business in front of goal. Finally, he’s only 29. If he’d kept his form up, a USMNT call-up might have been in the cards, especially considering the thin ranks of the U.S. team at forward.

In any event, it’s a big blow for Colorado and for Casey.

An odd side note to the unfortunate story: Seattle had a player (Steve Zakuani) seriously injured at Colorado in the teams’ first meeting, now Colorado gets a player knocked out for the year, at Seattle.

In other MLS news…

Red Bulls Send Da Luz to D.C.

D.C. United is fast becoming Red Bull South, as New York followed up its earlier swap of Dwayne De Rosario for Dax McCarty by sending second-year midfielder Austin da Luz to the Black-and-Red in exchange for an international roster spot.

It was unclear whether that spot was to be used on recently acquired German goalkeeper Frank Rost, or if the Red Bulls were in the market for another player. (New York also loaned goalkeeper Greg Sutton to the second-tier Montreal Impact this week.)

Da Luz showed promise in a handful of appearances with New York this season, after struggling with injuries in his rookie year. On June 20 against Portland, he scored one of the better goals of the year for the Red Bulls (after starting the play, too). Take a look: