Worry factor rising for U.S. national team visit to Jamaica

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A visit to Kingston, Jamaica, for a World Cup qualifier will never be a walk through the Rasta park. In four visits to the Kingston since the 1998 World Cup the national team has scraped by with three ties and a tight 2-1 victory.

The United States plays in the Jamaican capital on Sept. 7, the first of two World Cup qualifiers four days apart. Jurgen Klinsmann’s men meet Jamaica again on Sept. 11, this time in Columbus.

The match in Columbus is a gotta-have, and Klinsmann’s men should be able to solve the puzzle even if a few pieces go missing. But recent events do add some low hanging branches, the kind that can conk some heads – and potentially leave the U.S. qualifying effort in a daze.

No matter what happens before Fridays transfer deadline in England, Clint Dempsey will not be at “full Dempsey” for the coming matches. That’s just too much to ask of a man who hasn’t played in a competitive contest in more than three months.

Who knows where Landon Donovan might be next week, fitness-wise? The all-time U.S. leading scorer has missed the Los Angeles Galaxy’s last two matches, still on the mend from a hamstring strain suffered in the first half of the Aug. 15 win over Mexico.

And now this: Michael Bradley is expected to miss about a month due to a thigh injury suffered Tuesday in training with Roma.

So, that’s three of the U.S. top foursome. Only goalkeeper Tim Howard remains a definite on the available list among that important group.

Considering the stakes here (We are talking about a World Cup, yo!), all this could create some nervous tummies around U.S. Soccer supporter circles.

Then again, neither Dempsey nor Bradley was around for the big win at Azteca, and Donovan was on the field for just a half.   That one worked out OK for Klinsmann and Co., of course.