Bruce Arena has yet to take charge of a competitive match for the United States after being hired late last year, but he’s already been dealt a double blow of injury news ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers in a week.
With in-form right-back DeAndre Yedlin already out with a hamstring tear, Arena may now be without Fabian Johnson who was forced off the field in the 16th minute of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Europa League match against Schalke with what appeared to be a hamstring injury of his own. With the United States set to play Honduras in just eight days, any hamstring problems for Johnson, however slight, would almost certainly rule him out of at least the first match, and likely even the second against Panama.
Johnson’s loss would be huge. The 29-year-old’s versatility is massive, and his ability to play both on the wing and at full-back gives Arena options with a thin list to choose from at both left and right-back. Still, Johnson plays on the left wing at Gladbach, and his attacking prowess is vital for a team that has struggled to produce consistent pressure on opponents in recent matches.
Players who could be brought in to replace Johnson should he miss out would include Benny Feilhaber or Sascha Kljestan, who are more central, but at least Kljestan could move out wide if in a pinch. Other options at a more defensive spot include Timmy Chandler and Greg Garza, or Graham Zusi if Arena looks to replace Johnson with a wide midfielder. Kellyn Acosta is another option, with the FC Dallas man in good form and able to play at either left or right-back, although he is preferred in a central/defensive midfield position.
There is no word yet from the club on the severity of the injury.