U.S. Soccer officials have delayed the roster announcement, originally set for Thursday, until the weekend, at earliest.
U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman told me late last night that Saturday is the tentative target – but it would not surprise me if this gets pushed into early next week, just before the team arrives into Kansas City for a few days of training ahead of Friday’s contest at Sporting Park.
Jurgen Klinsmann had hoped to name the roster for the remaining pair of World Cup qualifiers today. But injuries and Major League Soccer’s schedule, and the combined, complicating effect of both, are mucking up the works. It all goes to underscore just how tricky this one is for the U.S. manager, with more moving pieces than usual at work.
Thus, U.S. Soccer wanted to see out the weekend matches to access availability, and the subsequent ripple effect, of a few familiar faces.
The starting point for Klinsmann, as he has repeatedly said, is that he wants the best team possible for next week’s home match against Jamaica in Kansas City and the qualifier finale in Panama.
(MORE: Anthony Brooks, Michael Bradley ruled out for U.S. roster)
Michael Bradley and Anthony Brooks have already been ruled out. That’s according to Klinsmann himself, who also said expects Clint Dempsey (pictured) and Landon Donovan to be available.
Here’s where things get dicey – and it’s mostly twisted up in Major League’s Soccer decision to play through FIFA dates:
The Seattle Sounders stand to lose three players for two matches to the call-ups. Not only are Sigi Schmid’s men targeting a Supporters Shield, both matches are Cascadia Cup contests – and Schmid will be loath to lose Dempsey, Eddie Johnson or Brad Evans (or any combination thereof) for these contest.
Further complicating things are the whispers and wonders about how a Supporters Shield would impact Schmid’s ongoing employment around CenturyLink? Voices in the game are wondering if claiming a Supporters Shield would be enough to get Schmid a new deal, regardless of what happens in the playoffs (where Seattle has not done well previously).
(MORE: Injuries undermining U.S. plans for final World Cup qualifiers)
Then we have Sporting Kansas City, the Los Angeles Galaxy and perhaps Real Salt Lake, all three of which stand to lose two U.S. internationals each.
Los Angeles was thinking “Supporters Shield possibilities” two or three weeks ago. Now Bruce Arena’s team could be one loss away from tumbling out of playoff positioning entirely. Yikes!
So the guess here is that a little negotiating is going on. As in: “Can we keep this guy for this match, or can he arrive late into your camp?” Or perhaps, “Can we get that guy back after Friday’s qualifier in Kansas City, so that he doesn’t travel down to Panama?”
In any scenario, how one player comes through the MLS weekend – That is, 100 percent healthy or something south of that? – may have a trickle-down effect on these ongoing discussions. And for any player that may bail out for one of the U.S. matches, Klinsmann has to line up a replacement, one from abroad or from an MLS team that may also be reluctant to give up one of their best players.
Oh, one other complicating factor: several U.S. players sit on yellow card warning, set to miss the finale if they collect a booking next week at Sporting Park.
To be clear, clubs are required to release players for FIFA qualifiers, and Klinsmann values his time with these guys in camp. He wants them in camp, no question, and clubs don’t have any choice if the players are summoned. But the U.S. manager also understands the politics of it all and values relationship, so he is likely to bend here and there. After all, it’s not the players’ fault or the MLS coaches’ fault that Major League Soccer continues to plow through these FIFA dates.