Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
Fears that Landon Donovan will miss yet another U.S. men's national team training camp have been put to rest by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Klinsmann revealed during a conference call on Monday afternoon that Donovan's injured left knee had shown substantial signs of progress and the veteran midfielder was on a plane to Miami to join the rest of the U.S. for their preparations ahead of their important World Cup qualifier against Antigua and Barbuda on Friday. Donovan injured his knee late in the Los Angeles Galaxy's 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night after a collision with Jamison Olave, laying motionless on the field before being stretchered off by team doctors.
"We were in touch over the last two days, obviously, and he was actually supposed to do an MRI this morning in Los Angeles but he skipped it because it improved a lot yesterday during the day," said Klinsmann. "We spoke last night and he said if it was even better this morning, he would skip the MRI and come straight to Miami."
Another player who is coming off an injury but was included in the U.S. roster was Jermaine Jones. Jones did not dress for Schalke 04's 3-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg this past Saturday because of a left ankle injury picked up in training last week, but Klinsmann said the German club held the midfielder out as a precaution and that he should be 'totally fine' for the U.S. camp.
Here are more USMNT notes from Monday's conference call:
KLINSMANN DISCUSSES KLJESTAN RETURN
One of the bigger shocks among the 24 players selected for the upcoming qualifiers was Sacha Kljestan, who Klinsmann has not selected since the 1-0 victory over Italy in February despite some strong performance for RSC Anderlecht. Klinsmann, however, stated that Kljestan's recent form at the club level had satisfied him and warranted a call-up.
"Sacha was with us in Italy and then we left him out and I discussed it with him but he was always absolute by us and he's done well the last couple of games," said Klinsmann. "We had (assistant coach) Andy Hertzog actually go to one of his games, Anderlecht played Malaga, and he did very well even if they lost that game.
"He played in a way that we wanted to see him play. He was very aggressive, he was very direct, he looked for the vertical balls to play, he didn't play sideways the whole time, and he pushed forward in order to get shots off himself, so we are pleased with the way he's playing right now and that's why he's getting the call."
Jose Torres' inability to leave his stamp in recent U.S. games might also explain Kljestan's call-up. Klinsmann said in September that he wanted to see more offensively from Torres, a regular selection of his, but the diminutive midfielder failed to do that despite enjoying one of his better outings in a U.S. jersey in the 1-0 win over Jamaica last month.
EDU A 'SERIOUS OPTION' AT CENTERBACK GOING FORWARD
Normally a midfielder, Maurice Edu was listed as a defender on the U.S. roster that was unveiled on Monday afternoon and Klinsmann thinks centerback could be the best position for Edu going forward. Klinsmann again singled out the United States' unprecedented win over Mexico at Estadio Azteca in August as a match that showed how good Edu can be as a centerback and the versatile Stoke City player may be a long-term solution as to who to pair Geoff Cameron with in central defense.
"He's a very serious option for us as a centerback, absolutely, going forward," said Klinsmann. "You can obviously play him as a (No.) 6 or 8, but the way he managed the game in Mexico City was the way we hoped to see him, because that's why we tried it out.
"Mo right now is going through his initial stages there with Stoke City. He has to break into the team. Now, he finally got onto the field the last game. He doesn't have enough playing minutes over the last couple of weeks that we hoped he will have but he's on the right track because his transfer was just getting done the last day of the transfer period, so he's a serious option for us as a centerback going forward and as well always as a defensive midfielder."
How big of a role do you expect Donovan and Jones to have in Friday's game? Happy to see Kljestan back in the mix? Agree that Edu should be seen as a centerback option?
Share your thoughts below.