Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Tim Howard (pictured) and Matt Besler, all starters in Friday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifier win over Jamaica, have returned to their respective clubs and did not accompany the team on its charter Saturday down into Panama.
U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said Donovan continues to struggle with an ankle injury he collected last month while playing for the LA Galaxy against D.C. United – although the U.S. manager also said late on Friday that the injury had nothing to do with Donovan’s halftime removal against Jamaica.
Klinsmann didn’t sound overly concerned about Donovan’s ankle, but did express more concern over Jones’ knee injury; you might remember reports two weeks ago that the gritty and volatile Schalke man, first on the U.S. depth chart at holding midfielder, would undergo surgery this month to repair some damage to the knee.
Those reports turned out to be false, although it’s clear that an issue does exist; at some point Jones will probably need surgery to repair the apparent meniscus damage, possibly around the German winter break coming up in just over two months.
Besler and Howard were previously planned changes, Klinsmann said. Besler’s return to Sporting Kansas City makes him available for Friday’s match at home against D.C. United. Donovan, meanwhile, can participate for Los Angeles on Wednesday against Montreal, assuming the ankle allows. Playoff positioning (or maybe even a playoff spot in L.A.’s case) is on the line.
Clarence Goodson, who was with the United States on Friday but sitting in the stands, will most likely partner with Geoff Cameron on Tuesday in Panama City.
This also means Brad Guzan will get a start against Panama, a logical move considering he’s the team’s No. 2 goalkeeper, and considering that he keeps closing the gap on Howard for starting duty. Remember, it was Guzan in goal for the critical, turning stretch in March, the memorable win over Costa Rica outside Denver and the scoreless draw with Mexico at Azteca.
Interestingly, DaMarcus Beasley is on the roster for Tuesday’s match; he left Friday’s contest and was set to undergo medical evaluation today before the team left Kansas City.
The U.S. roster for Tuesday’s final World Cup qualifier looks like this:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).