Early-Evening Roundup: Donovan Benched Again, Uzbeks Drop U.S. U-17s

We’re about to bust out to watch the U.S. take on Panama in their Gold Cup semifinal, but we just checked the Twitter feed and found this bombshell: Landon Donovan will start tonight’s crucial game on the bench.

This is obviously huge, and it suggests that his previous benching, against Jamaica in the quarterfinals, may have had more to it than the fact that LD flew in from his sister’s wedding in California the night before.

Here’s the starting XI:

Tim Howard

Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Eric Lichaj

Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones; Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan, Clint Dempsey

Juan Agudelo

It’s probably safe to say that most (all) observers assumed that either Kljestan or Bedoya would be dropped in favor of Donovan, but that has not happened.

How will the team respond? How will Donovan respond if and when he comes in as a sub?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and enjoy the game.

In other U.S. news, the U-17 American team was upended 2-1 by Uzbekistan this afternoon at the youth World Cup in Mexico.

It’s a surprising result, to say the least, since the U.S. was coming off a convincing 3-0 win over the Czech Republic while the Uzbeks were drubbed 4-1 by New Zealand in their opener.

The young Nats will need a result, and maybe a win, against the Kiwis in their final group stage game. New Zealand and the Czech Republic kick off their second group-stage game at 7:00.

U.S. U-17s Learn World Cup Draw, Which Will Awesomely Include Uzbekistan

Marc Pelosi will lead the U.S. midfield.

The U.S. U-17 national team is going to the World Cup in Mexico next month, and yesterday they found out which teams they’ll face in the group stage.

First up, on June 19 (at 7:00 p.m. EST), the young Yanks take on the Czech Republic—most likely a tough game.

Three days later, they get Uzbekistan (4:00 p.m.) and … we have no idea.

Uzbekistan is one of the more obscure of the “ ’stan” countries in Central Asia, trailing only Kyrgyzstan, and possibly tied with Turkmenistan in that category.

We doubt Uzbeks bear any resemblance to their depiction in this vintage, possibly offensive and definitely hilarious clip from Second City TV:

But we couldn’t tell you much about them without consulting Google. We do know that they qualified for this tournament by finishing second in the 2010 U-16 Asian championships, which they hosted.

The Uzbeks defeated Australia 2-1 in the semifinals before falling to North Korea 2-0 in the final. All four semifinalists (Japan was the fourth) qualified for the U-17 World Cup.

The U.S.’s third game is at 6:00 p.m. on June 25 against New Zealand, which won the Oceania tournament, beating Tahiti 2-0 in overtime in the final.

Downing an island nation with a population of 175,000—and needing overtime to do it—might not seem like a landmark accomplishment. But before we go underestimating New Zealand, let’s remember the Kiwis’ full national team and its undefeated performance at the 2010 World Cup.

All in all, though, we’d say the U.S. should advance out of this group.

Here’s the entire draw (Groups B and F look like the toughest):

Group A
North Korea

Group B

Group C

Group D
Czech Republic
New Zealand

Group E
Burkina Faso

Group F
Ivory Coast