A 23-man roster that seemed set for two matches has seen considerable shrinkage over the past few hours.
Michael Bradley’s ankle, rolled during pregame warmups Friday in Costa Rica, will be the most watched bone or joint in U.S. soccer over the next few days. The United States clearly needs its midfield brain to function at highest efficiency Tuesday at Crew Stadium against a reeling and vulnerable Mexico. (Well, it needs Bradley for pretty much every big match over the next few years – but we’re mostly just talking about Tuesday’s border battle for now.)
Those yellow cards to Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler and (most needlessly) Jozy Altidore will further shorten the list of potential selections. So … where will the presumed reinforcements come from?
- Clarence Goodson is the most obvious man to call on. Even if Anthony Brooks is called into duty – a pretty big ask for the emerging Bundesliga man, making a World Cup qualifier debut against the region’s fallen giant – Goodson can still provide needed, veteran stability and cover. If Klinsmann doesn’t summon another center back, he takes a mighty risk; Michael Orozco or Michael Parkhurst would be the only other center back options, but using either one in the middle removes an outside back option, where the United States is already perilously thin. (Assuming Orozco remains an outside back option, considering his predictably wobbly night as a makeshift right back on Friday.)
- The need to add another forward doesn’t seem quite as pressing. If Klinsmann does want additional cover, look for Alan Gordon or Chris Wondolowski from San Jose. However, removing Earthquakes’ teammate Goodson from San Jose’s weekend match, which would almost surely happen since the Quakes play late Sunday, less than 48 hours prior to U.S. kickoff in Columbus, might complicate the calculus on that one.
- Will Bruin or Jack McInerney are further striker options, but considering their lack of minutes in the recent Gold Cup they seem highly unlikely ones.
- If Bradley (pictured above) cannot get healthy in time, replacement options include Sacha Kljestan (not likely considering the travel involved) or Joe Corona (more likely considering the far less substantial distance.) The most likely scenario here seems to be Jones moving into Bradley’s linking role as we saw Friday, with Kyle Beckerman screening the defense. Or Jones could screen and Mix Diskerud would become the linking man.
Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)
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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.
That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.
One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.
[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]
Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.
Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.
Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:
Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.