Injuries dent U.S. national team roster ahead of Friday’s clash with Costa Rica outside Denver

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It sounded a bit ominous to hear that the U.S. national coaching staff was in scramble mode, delaying its roster announcement (which had been set tentatively for Monday morning) ahead of Friday’s important World Cup qualifier.

Whispers circulated that “multiple starters” would miss the match – above the ones we already knew about, that is. Tim Howard is the big one (we knew about his back injury previously), although Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan is no huge dropoff at this point.

The new concern is at fullback. An injury to Steve Cherundolo made things thin back there already. But new setbacks to Edgar Castillo (facial fractures), Timmy Chandler (hamstring) and Fabian Johnson (hip) have things looking rather dire at the right and left back positions.

(MORE: Klinsmann talks about roster, Bocanegra and Dempsey)

Heck, even Jonathan Spector, who is fairly far down on the fullback depth chart, has an ankle injury. And Jose Torres, who played as an attack-minded left fullback last year in a qualifier against Antiqua and Barbuda has a hamstring strain.

The injuries to Chandler, Castillo and Williams (who has a nasty stomach flu) weren’t apparent from weekend matches, hence the late U.S. Soccer scramble in assembling the roster. This set of 23 will cover not just Friday’s contest at Dicks Sporting Goods Park against Costa Rica, but next week’s match at Mexico as well.

While most U.S. attackers are available (with on-sabbatical Landon Donovan the obvious exception), the highly unpredictable back line construction is the issue here.

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The truly notable absence here is former captain Carlos Bocanegra. So, that answers that question. The 33-year-old defender, who has been used often at left back, is not injured.

For now, here’s the United States’ 23-man roster, released just a few minutes ago from U.S. Soccer:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes)

MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (AS Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)