TAMPA, Fla. – The U.S. left backs are dropping like wet flies.
American coach Jurgen Klinsmann revealed minutes ago that it’s doubtful either Fabian Johnson, the recently enshrined first choice at U.S. left back, or backup Edgar Castillo can play in Friday’s qualifier against Antigua and Barbuda.
Johnson had already more or less been ruled out after picking up an injury during warmups of Sunday’s friendly in Canada. He jogged around the field during Thursday’s final practice prior to tomorrow’s 7 p.m. ET kickoff.
After practice, Klinsmann informed reporters that Castillo “pulled a hamstring.” He didn’t offer many details other than to say the Club Tijuana man (Castillo is pictured at right, along with Klinsmann) probably could not play Friday. So, who does that leave?
“We always have left backs; anybody can play left back,” Klinsmann said with a laugh. “We’ll figure it out.”
Again, this is all against the backdrop banner that reads “It really doesn’t matter.” Klinsmann and Co. are up against Antigua and Barbuda, a twin-island with a population about the size of a major U.S. suburb.
So, who are his choices? Carlos Bocanegra has played left back before, but he’s the central anchor onto which Klinsmann has been attaching the “trialists” over the last three matches. Geoff Cameron has attacking skills and has played outside midfielder before.
Steve Cherundolo could presumably play as an inverted fullback – a right-footer on the left side, a la German veteran Philipp Lahm, who was among Klinsmann’s German collection at World Cup 2006. Or it could be Michael Parkhurst, who is currently backing up Cherundolo on the right.