Tim Howard’s out, Clint Dempsey’s iffy, and Landon Donovan’s in Cambodia. Who else is out or in doubt for the U.S.’s upcoming qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico?
Fabian Johnson, that’s who. The Hoffenheim left-sider missed today’s game with what one German outlet described as “muscular problems.”
Before we get too deep into this, realize Johnson was listed as questionable. True, that turned into ‘out’ when he missed today’s kickoff at Greuther Furth, but he’s not as outright injured as somebody who was ruled out entirely. With 13 days until the U.S. hosts Costa Rica, it’s probable the muscular problems could improve enough for Johnson to make the qualifiers.
But let’s go down this rabbit hole and consider the scenarios if Johnson’s out. That would leave Tijuana’s Edgar Castillo next in line, right? Yeah, except for the broken bones in his face, for which he just underwent surgery. He’s doubtful for the next set of qualifiers.
I guess that leaves Carlos Bocanegra. Too bad he hasn’t been playing for Racing Santander. How comfortable should Jurgen Klinsmann be dropping the veteran into the team when he’s not playing in the Spanish second division.
We’ve seen Jose Torres out there before, but that was against much lesser competition (at home against Antigua and Barbuda).
Michael Parkhurt could be an option, but after that we’re grasping at straws. Does somebody like Justin Morrow get called in?
If Johnson isn’t ready this time next week, we might be asking that question. Does a player who has one, January cap get called in ahead of a game the U.S. really needs to win?
Let’s wait and see before answering that one.
The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
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The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.
Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.
[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]
In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.
Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.
Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.
The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.
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Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.
With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.
Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:
What a special moment in my professional life!
Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.
I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.
Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.
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While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.