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Bobby Wood to miss USMNT qualifiers, Kljestan and Besler added to squad

A few days after losing Fabian Johnson to an injury for the upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama, the U.S. Men’s National Team was forced to drop another German-based starter from its roster.

U.S. Soccer announced on Sunday that Bobby Wood was removed from the roster due to a back injury. He will be replaced by New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan. Although not a direct replacement for Wood, Kljestan does bring more quality to the attack with Jozy Altidore now expected to start at forward.

Matt Besler was also added to the squad as a defensive reinforcement. Besler’s Sporting Kansas City teammate Graham Zusi was brought in for Johnson on Friday.


  1. Wood played a ‘full’ game yesterday & came off in stoppage time. He didn’t seem to be struggling at all…what’s going on here?

  2. Well, the good news is, um, err, there isn’t any good news. At least Dempsey seems capable of playing 90 for one game and Morris is a capable backup. I still think Arena should have brought in another attacker to replace Wood. Agudelo comes to mind.

    • Looking more and more like some form of 4-5-1 or 4-3-3.

      Agudelo is not good enough, Wondo would be a better replacement, contrary to popular opinion at least he scores goals.

      • Hmm are you guys saying that Arena should have brought in a “like for like replacement” for Altidore, in case he pulls a hamstring (due to overtraining)?

    • Your well placed sarcasm is noted. The hypocrisy is pretty clear with our fellow posters and the feigned outrage under the selectons with Klinsmann appears to have been just that.

      It’d be more amusing if it wasn’t equally annoying.

  3. Crap! Is this a real injury, which is terrible; or just a fake injury which stinks, but I can understand why his club wouldn’t want Bobby to play given their relegation battle?

    • The 4-2-3-1 can be a very good formation for the US. We should have the bulk of possession against Honduras at Home so I could see something along the following….

      I’d much prefer Fabian/Arriola/Gooch/Zardes in that Zusi spot, but none of these guys are available.

      My worry is going to be at the outside back positions. With Yedlin, Chandler, Lichaj Fabian, and the rest out suspended/injured we really don’t have good options out wide.

      • Guessing we will see Bedoya in that spot instead of Zusi. I actually think Zusi offers more in the final 3rd but go figure. You are right that the other 4 guys are not available, but Arena could have called in Ariola or Gooch if he’d wanted to.

      • Why would he call in Gooch he hasn’t played for the first team since November and only has a handful of appearances for the U23s since returning from Injury at the end of January.

        Arriola has two national team goals, one against TnT in a meaningless match after the match was well in hand and one against Puerto Rico. He has scored 12 professional goals in his four seasons half of which have come in Copa Mx against lower division teams or mostly reserve top division sides.

        The two guys you mentioned are younger and faster of course. Zusi is a better crosser and defender (on the wing anyway) and makes smarter passes and runs. Zusi had a good year with the USMNT last year, don’t forget it was his insertion in the lineup in Columbus that really allowed the 4-3-3 to work as he and Bradley shut down the Guatemalan midfield. He’s not flashy and he’s not the future, but he’s a better and safer option than either Arriola or Gooch.

      • In my mind, the choice of starting fullbacks will determine who plays where in midfield and forward. I don’t think there is a lot of speed in the US back line so if they try to play a high back line it will get ugly (see last night’s RedBull game for what can happen when quick players (Johnson and Morris) attack slower defenders, especially when their midfielders give the ball away cheaply).

        I don’t think Arena will try to play a high back line. That will open up space in the middle of the field. Will Honduras be able to exploit that and which midfielders can defend best? That almost guarantees a disconnect between the forwards and midfielders for the US.

        Which US midfielders can operate effectively with a lot of ground to cover simultaneously with being able to deal with the short spacing and over-loading of one side that Honduras will likely employ?

        The forwards must be dangerous and fast enough to keep the Honduran back line honest and out of the midfield mix.

        So I think:

        Morris, Dempsey

        Bedoya, Acosta(Nagbe), Bradley, Pulisic

        Ream(Besler), Brooks, Gonzales(Cameron), Cameron(Ream)


        Putting Dempsey into a midfield that must cover a lot of ground, would be, I think a mistake; he would likely play more as a withdrawn forward. Pulisic adds another dimension with his ability to run at pace from the middle of the field and beat defenders, I am not sure he will be able to deal with the physical abuse Honduras will try to put on him.

  4. questions:
    is besler better than birnbaum?
    There’s no other foward in the United States?
    Is zusi still playing soccer?
    arena is retrograde? I’ll answer that, yes

    • It is interesting to look at the mls scoring charts, three games into the season. Not many americans there. The only ones (of 18 total players) with 2+ goals are Altidore, Dempsey, Christian Ramirez, and CJ Sapong.

      So, although stats don’t tell us a whole lot this early in the year, I would be willing to bet that the top 5 scorers at the end of the year are already in that list now.

      Or in other words, no, we don’t have any better forwards at the moment.

      In soccer, international-level players, difference-makers, stars (we can agree that evens hundreds of mediocre talents won’t get us any further in a WC), have a difficult time hiding from public view. Here in France, it only took a couple of matches for everyone to start talking about Kylian Mbappe. There is no such player in America.

      • Most MLS sides now play a majority foreign players and that’s counting Canadains as natives. People have spent the last four years complaining that Klinsman didn’t support MLS, well MLS isn’t really trying to help USMNT either. Teams have discovered it’s a lot easier to sign young strikers from South America than it is to develop their own.

    • And out of curiosity I checked the assists category too. Only one American out of 12 players with 2+ assists – Wondolowski. Future is looking bright !

  5. This now leaves the roster rather flat. Pulisic has to play on the wing now with no FJ. Why not call in Arriola, or some other winger backups. We have a lot of centerbacks and pseudowingers.

  6. It seems no one here actually listens to our head coach. He point blank stated that he would not be bringing in many young guys for these qualifiers. He stated that this roster would be similar to the one JK trotted out for the first two qualifiers. Once we secure the six points, he will start bringing in the young guys. People keep asking why, he already told you why multiple times.

    • It’s the grass is always greener philosophy. We get tired of seeing the same players so the next guy line must be better because we never see him play. Zardes was loved by fans until he became a regular, Kljestan was beloved until welcomed back into a starting role. It even applies to Bradley, he’d be dominant if he was just playing DM now he’s no good because he’s been playing DM for a year and we haven’t seen Morales, Williams or Acosta.

    • Bruce says a lot of things. He also said he would favor players from Europe for these qualifiers because they are in mid-season form.

      • That may have rung true if they all weren’t injured, suspended, having babies or just not playing! This roster should still be able to get the job done sans all of the changes.

  7. Damn you Jurgen, all theses injuries are your fault. Terrible replacements called in. If they weren’t good enough for the original roster why not bring in a few younger ones instead, they probably won’t play anyway

  8. Does the USMNT go with Jozy as the loan striker? Much to his displeasure and not how he wants to play. 4-3-3 might be be the best option to put the best possible eleven out there. I could see C. Pulisic playing behind Jozy or Morris?
    Start Dempsey playing behind Jozy? Doubt Dempsey has the workrate to chase and pressure the ball and playing in the hole behind Jozy requires it.

  9. Wow this blows… I’m actually more upset with Wood missing the qualifiers than FJ. And I still can’t accept that Zusi is still getting called up.


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