Jurgen Klinsmann will have neither Landon Donovan nor Brek Shea from which to choose in the coming World Cup qualifiers. So, there’s goes the American width in attack.
Donovan hurt his left knee in Saturday’s L.A. Galaxy loss, but felt better than expected two days later and flew into Miami to join the team.
Shea missed FC Dallas’ weekend draw (also in Los Angeles, but against Chivas USA) but had hoped to recover sufficiently from an abdominal strain and other minor ailments to help the U.S. either Friday against Antigua and Barbuda or next week at home against Guatemala.
“It’s unfortunate for Landon and Brek that they won’t be able to play,” Klinsmann said late Tuesday through a U.S. Soccer release. “Landon was very optimistic over the weekend when his knee was feeling much better, but now he needs time to recover. We knew Brek was a question mark coming in, and now we have a clear picture of where he stands. We feel confident that the group we have will get the job done.”
Although Klinsmann said no replacements are forthcoming, you have to wonder if that might change.
Graham Zusi can and has played out wide for Klinsmann, but it’s clearly not his best spot. (On the other hand, Zusi partnered wonderfully with Steve Cherundolo on the right side in the American win over Jamaica.)
Sacha Kljestan has played in wide roles before, but his tendencies are always to lean inside. Klinsmann even addressed that topic in Monday’s conference call with reporters, noting with appreciation the Anderlecht man’s willingness to take a shift wide left in a 4-4-2 in the win over Italy.
So, minus any reinforcements, the width in attack will presumably be on Cherundolo on the right and Fabian Johnson on the left.
They’ll have to be up for the job, because the stakes are fairly significant.