Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — As the U.S. Men’s National Team travels to Columbus, so too could some reinforcements.
With Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron out for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico due to yellow card accumulation, the U.S. is likely to summon some replacements to help bolster a squad that could also be without Michael Bradley due to the ankle injury he suffered in Friday night’s 3-1 loss to Costa Rica at Estadio Nacional.
That means help could be on the way at a number of positions: Forward, centerback and center midfield.
“With the yellow card situation, we’re going to sit down now and discuss now all the elements that we want to, obviously, change and how we throw it into the Tuesday game based on what happened tonight,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Friday night. “We knew about the risk, we know about the situation. It’s always upsetting when it happens, especially when I look at Jozy Altidore’s yellow card towards the end that was absolutely not necessary, but it is what it is. We’ll adjust to it, if we need to call in more players, we will do that still tonight and therefore, we’re going to prepare very focused on Mexico.”
Klinsmann could summon a number of different players. At centerback, he could call in Clarence Goodson. In the midfield, he could add players like Sacha Kljestan, Jose Torres or Joe Corona. Up top, he may turn to someone like Terrence Boyd.
Regardless of who Klinsmann selects, the U.S. depth that shone during the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers this past summer will be tested greatly on Tuesday against a Mexico team that will be desperate for a victory after losing at home to Honduras on Friday night.
“I think we’re going to have to answer that. I don’t know the answer,” said Tim Howard when asked if the U.S. had the depth to make up for the loss of so many key players. “I’d like to say yes. We’re going to have to see how it is with Michael. We don’t know how bad it is. If we can get him back, that’d be great.
“I don’t know. I think the depth is good but my words mean nothing. We’ll figure it out on Tuesday.”
Klinsmann has repeatedly talked about players needing to step up and shine when called upon, but Tuesday’s game might just be the toughest challenge for both the U.S. head coach and his players. Not just because they are playing an El Tri team with nothing to lose, but because the pressure will be on after the rough Friday night in San Jose.
“Part of qualifying is that: How much depth do you have,” said Landon Donovan. “Fortunately, we’ve built a team with a lot of depth, so we feel confident about other guys stepping in and doing a job and there’s guys who have wanted to play and deserve to play and now they’re going to have a chance.”