USMNT Report: Looking Ahead to Friday’s Match

USMNT lineup stays the same, as Donovan, Shea and others will miss the upcoming CONCACAF qualifier
by Herb Scribner   |   Thursday, October 11, 2012

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

Unlike last time, the upcoming contest with Antigua & Barbuda may not be a sure thing.

Friday night, the United States Men’s National Team will compete against Antigua without two top competitors, Landon Donovan and Brek Shea, as well as two top defenders in Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo.

The originally 24-man roster (now down to 20) will travel down to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, to face the team that it defeated, 3-1, back on June 8.

LAST TIME OUT: In the previous game between the two sides, Dempsey, Gomez and Carlos Bocanegra all scored to give the US a solid win. Donovan was involved in both Dempsey and Bocanegra’s goals.

The last time the USMNT took the field was on Sept. 11 against Jamaica from Columbus Crew Stadium. Herculez Gomez continued his impressive streak with the only goal of the game, giving the Americans the victory.

INJURIES: As previously noted, call ups Donovan and Shea will are out of Friday’s qualifier.

Donovan’s injury came on Oct. 6 when the Los Angeles Galaxy fell to Real Salt Lake, 2-1. Donovan withdrew from the US squad, and will be further inspected by Galaxy doctors.

Shea, who has had an abdominal strain since Sept. 29, will remain in Dallas for treatment.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Fabian Johnson (flu) and Edgar Castillo would also sit out of the Antigua match because of injuries. No replacement were announced.

ANALYSIS: When it was just Donovan and Shea out of the lineup, I understood why Klinsmann didn’t call up another player. After all, the team could still be tinkered with enough to produce results. Donovan and Shea, typically, aren’t the end all.

But on Wednesday, when it was reported that Castillo and Johnson joined the injured list, I shook my head a little bit in bewilderment at how Klinsmann didn’t call anyone up to help out.

The left back position, which Castillo and Johnson can both play, has been hard to fill in recent years since the Freddie Hejduk days. It’s understandable that Klinsmann would have a tough time filling that position in such a small amount of time. But you’d think he’d want to add a bit more meat to his lineup, just in case of any more injuries or mishaps that might happen in Antigua.

Many probably don’t expect the US to lose here, myself included. The US is far superior to the small Caribbean nation. But many said similarly about the first Jamaica game.

Many of the USMNT players are playing for their clubs now, opposed to the summer matches when many of them were on their respective breaks. Dempsey may show improvement on the field now that he’s been competing for Tottenham in the English Premier League.

Michael Bradley will be back with the team after missing out recently due to injury. Bradley scored a goal in his return to AS Roma on Oct. 7, which inspired the Spanish press to speculation that Valencia may be interested in the defensive midfielder. We’ll see if he’ll be as productive for the Americans on Friday.

Speaking of Bradley, I’m worried that the USMNT will revert back to its heavy defensive mindset. The US doesn’t need to be overly defensive against Antigua. If anything, the US should push its offense and try and make a statement in the qualifying.

It’ll be tough for the United States to do this too, since both Jozy Altidore and Chris Wondolowski – who are both dominating and leading their respective leagues in goals – were left off the roster. It looks like the USMNT might be trying to secure a win, and only a win. A hefty of goals don’t matter, it would appear.

Right now, the US is in a three-way tie with Jamaica and Guatemala in Group A for CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. And although the Americans would push through to the next round if qualifying ended today, it’s important that the team gets a decisive win here.

I’m looking forward to Friday’s match. It’s going to show how well the US players will do when they’re already in season and give us a glimpse in how the US plays away when much is on the line.

I’ve commented before on how Klinsmann and the USMNT have yet to find a rhythm and right lineup. Klinsmann is still trying to get his footing with the team. The US has been somewhat inconsistent – sometimes the team is fast-paced and offensive-minded, other times it hogs the ball on the defensive side.

I’d like to see the team establish itself against Antigua, which will be hard to do with all the missing starters and injured players. But this will be a good match for the team to get its style down, and give all viewers an indication of what kind of team it’ll be as qualifying continues.

Let’s just hope though that the team doesn’t do anything too stylish, since the game won’t be readily available for all of us remaining stateside.

UP NEXT: USMNT vs Antigua & Barbuda, 7 p.m. EST, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua. Broadcasted on beIN Sport.

USMNT vs Guatemala, 5 p.m. EST, at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Brodcasted on ESPN2 and TeleFutura.


UMass Amherst
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FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.