March 18, 2013
By Charles Cuttone
Experience at a premium as U.S. heads into critical World Cup qualifiers
Because of injuries, players not getting playing time with their club teams, and the self-imposed exile of Landon Donovan, U.S. National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann will take a very inexperienced team into the next two World Cup Qualifiers, against Costa Rica and Mexico.
|With Tim Howard sidelined by broken bones in his back, Brad Guzan is expected to man the US net for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Eight players are unavailable for the matches due to injury or illness: Edgar Castillo (facial fractures), Timmy Chandler (hamstring), Steve Cherundolo (knee), Tim Howard (back), Fabian Johnson (hip), Jonathan Spector (ankle), Jose Torres (hamstring) and Danny Williams (illness). With so many veteran players already sidelined, it seems perhaps puzzling that Carlos Bocanegra was not selected, given his international experience. Klinsmann said there was a simple reason for not selecting him.
"He’s not getting any minutes with Racing Santander in the second division in Spain, so he has no flow, he has no rhythm, and he understands the situation," said Klinsmann, who would like to see the veteran defender perhaps make another move during the offseason.
"Carlos is still in our picture. This is not the end of his National Team career. He understands that right now he’s behind other players."
But Klinsmann said he is certainly confident in the squad he has selected, and is not concerned with the team's lack of experience.
“You only get experience if you play. If you don’t have the experience yet, then you have to get your games under your belt and gain that experience," he said.
"I think the players that are here for the upcoming challenges, they definitely have the qualities and the confidence to get the job done. Experience is built over years, and it’s definitely an important factor but the fact is that a lot of experienced players are injured or are not playing, like Carlos or like [Oguchi] Onyewu, and therefore this is the roster we have total trust in and they will gain more experience by doing that.”
The back line will be the most hampered by the lack of experience. Six defenders called have exactly 12 games of qualifying experience, 11 combined between just two players, Geoff Cameron and Clarence Goodson. Two of the defenders, San Jose's Justin Morrow and RSL's Tony Beltran, have no World Cup Qualifying experience, and have been capped only once before.
Klinsmann seems confident that LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, who has four caps, and was burned for the deciding goal in the team’s 2-1 qualifying loss to Honduras in on February 6, is ready to step in and make a contribution to the national team.
“We just want to give him the opportunity to grow and to mature in our environment, and I think he’s done well. In Honduras, the second goal happened because of a sequence of mistakes by several players involved, and we give away the game, but overall he played an absolutely good game. I had him with me the whole January camp, which was a pleasure, and to see his potential. Now for him to kind of get to another level is by playing and gaining experience and growing, and I think he’s done well so far. We believe that there’s a real special player coming through the system.”
The Americans host Costa Rica at Dick's Sporting Goods Park at 10 p.m. on Friday (ESPN) before taking on Mexico in Azteca Stadium at 10 p.m. ET (ESPN) on March 26.
The U.S. roster: (WCQ caps/goals)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake – 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City – 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby – 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes – 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla – 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake – 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma – 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana – 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor – 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 – 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht – 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City – 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City – 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar – 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna – 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur – 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos – 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC – 12/10)