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.