Update: Johnson out for Antigua and Barbuda; Castillo to miss both qualifiers

4 Comments

UPDATE: Edgar Castillo is out for both qualifiers. More below.

The injury news just keeps getting worse for the United States, with a report out of Germany saying Fabian Johnson will miss Friday’s qualifying in Antigua after receiving an injection to battle the flu. Per Kicker, the treatment will have him out for the week’s first game, though he’ll likely be ready for Guatemala.

Just a hunch, but it sounds like Jurgen Klinsmann and staff made a call here. Do we want to have Johnson ready for Guatemala, knowing it will cost him the first game? Or do we want to roll the dice and risk his health for Kansas City, with the potential he could be healthy neither (or both)? Klinsmann may have chose door number one.

Of course, the news looks a little worse knowing that Edgar Castillo, the only other natural left-sided defender on the roster, has aggravated a foot injury in training. Nobody knows the extent of the damage, but he’s being evaluated. If he can’t play Friday, U.S. Soccer cracks the glass case on the emergency plan.

And what is that plan? In the first game against Antigua and Barbuda – a game Johnson also missed – Jose Torres played left back. But he’s also injured. Thankfully, he wouldn’t have been needed even if healthy. Michael Parkhurst’s ability to play anywhere along the defense means he can step up in a jam. Carlos Bocanegra can also play on the left, though Klinsmann’s been reluctant to put the captain back out wide.

In the short term (Friday), Johnson and (potentially) Castillo’s absences shouldn’t hurt the United States, though every little bit counts. All of these injuries could be paper cuts leading to a bigger problem. At least, that’s what some U.S. Men’s National Team fans will naturally think, perhaps tired of injury after injury.

But the bigger issue here is how the players feel Sunday, when the team likely resumes training after returning Stateside from Antigua. If there are no left backs healthy by then, it may be time to take evasive action.

UPDATE:

U.S. Soccer has announced Edgar Castillo is out for both qualifiers. Fabian Johnson remains in Germany, recovering from illness contracted this weekend, and is expected to join the team in Kansas City. Jurgen Klinsmann

“Obviously it’s a difficult situation losing Fabian for the Antigua game and Edgar being unavailable for both. We were in a similar situation for the first match against Antigua & Barbuda in June, and we will be prepared,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Fabian has been ill since the weekend, and we were waiting to see if he would be healthy enough to join us in Miami. At this point, it is in everyone’s best interest to allow him to fully recover from his illness and come into Kansas City ready to play against Guatemala.”

Report: Chelsea planning Hazard, Courtois pay raises

Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.

[ MORE: Lukaku says decision has been made on Everton future ]

According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.

Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.

The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.

The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.

Ballack acknowledges difficult decision ahead for John Terry

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the better part of 19 years John Terry has been a staple of Chelsea’s backline.

[ WATCH: Zaha nets first international goal for Ivory Coast ]

With his future at Stamford Bridge becoming more and more in doubt though, it appears it’s time for the 36-year-old to move on from his longtime club, and that’s a decision that another former Chelsea player doesn’t envy.

[ MORE: Everton’s Coleman breaks leg on Ireland duty ]

Ex-Blues midfielder Michael Ballack knows that Terry has options, whether it be in Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League or even with another Premier League club, but the German says it’s difficult because of what the centerback has meant to Chelsea.

“He is a player with that history and charisma,” Ballack, who spent four years with Chelsea during his playing days, told Sky Sports. “He’s such a Chelsea boy and they love him there.

“I know what it means if your career comes to an end and you’re getting older. You don’t know whether you extend your contract, play for another club or go abroad to America.

“I’m sure he has some options but if you think long-term, you have to feel comfortable with the decision.

For the first time in years, Terry has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular largely due to Antonio Conte‘s three-back system. The 36-year-old has appeared in just five PL matches this campaign, while making 10 appearances overall for the Blues, who currently sit atop England’s top flight and are in position to go for the double with the FA Cup semifinals lurking.

Terry himself has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end, but knowing the competitive drive that has made the Englishman great throughout his almost 20-year career, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll just give up his playing days without a fight.

Gabriel Jesus confident he’ll return for Man City this season

Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gabriel Jesus bursted onto the Manchester City scene upon arrival, but an injury back in February has left the talented Brazilian sidelined ever since.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty ]

The lively attacker suffered a broken metatarsal last month against Bournemouth, which required surgery, but the 19-year-old remains confident that he’ll be able to feature again this season for the Citizens.

“I don’t know, I have no return prediction,” Jesus told SporTV. “But I hope I can still play some games this season.”

Initial thoughts were that Jesus would miss around three months, all but ending his first Premier League season. Now, Jesus is hoping that he’ll be able to pick up where he left off prior to the devastating injury.

“It’s good,” Jesus said on his road to recovery. “Thank God, the effort, not just mine, but from all the physiotherapists in Manchester, doctors and everyone. It was not easy for me.

“It’s my first injury. Not muscle injury, but it’s the first time something happens that leaves me out of games. So it was not easy.

“But I saw that, of course, no one wants this to happen, but it could be worse. So we operated soon, I decided to operate and give it time.”

In just his first four matches with Pep Guardiola‘s side, the young Brazilian netted three goals and even dethroned Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup.

CONCACAF chief Montagliani seeks World Cup entry for all co-hosts

Alexander Hassenstein - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
1 Comment

A joint-bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is looking more and more possible, and CONCACAF chief Victor Montagliani believes that if that does happen then all co-hosts should be granted a spot in the tournament.

[ MORE: Making sense of USMNT’s emphatic win over Honduras ]

With FIFA president Gianni Infantino looking to finalize World Cup expansion plans from 32 to 48 teams over the coming weeks, it seems as though Montagliani’s hopes could become a reality for CONCACAF and other regions planning on creating multi-nation bids.

“I don’t think we should be dictating how a confederation allocates their slots from a hosting standpoint. That’s up to them,” Montagliani said.

FIFA will conduct its next meeting on Thursday when Infantino and all six confederation presidents meet in Zurich, Switzerland to decide on World Cup expansion, which Infantino has been adamant about since taking the reigns of soccer’s governing body.

2026 could play an important role for the United States, as it is seen as a critical piece in a joint-bid with Mexico and Canada to host the World Cup.

Additionally, Montagliani has hopes of making a combined Copa America with North and South America a permanent fixture after recently holding discussions with South America’s FIFA vice president Alejandro Dominguez.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Friday night’s massive USMNT victory ]

However, one area that would be left uncertain is the future of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is currently held every two years.

“If that is the case and we get that done, then we have to have a serious look — is it really tenable to have a Gold Cup?” said Montagliani, whose FIFA stakeholders panel faces tough talks on adding and subtracting dates when clubs must release players on international dates.

“Do we really need it [the Gold Cup]?” he suggested. “Is it just clogging the calendar for the players?”