International Football

Fabian Johnson Injury Highlights USMNT Uncertainties with Outside Backs

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Dane Richards #11 of the Jamaican National Team and Fabian Johnson #23 of the U.S. National Team battle for control of the ball on September 11, 2012 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Paul MillerContributor IIIJanuary 28, 2013

There are potential problems on the USMNT’s backline for the Feb. 6 qualifier in Honduras, and suddenly those problems aren’t confined to the center back positions.

Fabian Johnson sat out TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Saturday game with a knee injury. The team’s website has no information as of publishing of this article on the extent of the injury.

Also missing Bundesliga play this weekend was fellow American Steve Cherundolo. The Hanover 96 outside back continues his recovery from knee pains.

Johnson is a clear starter, if healthy. Cherundolo’s status is less certain outside the USMNT coaching staff because of the verbal commitment from Timmy Chandler to commit to the American team.

Yes, that is the same Chandler who hesitated and ducked out when Jurgen Klinsmann wanted to cap-tie the FC Nurnberg defender in 2012. Chandler since has renewed his verbal commitment and he appeared with the USMNT in their friendly against Russia.

But nothing is binding until he plays with the USMNT in a competitive game (something other than a friendly).

Let’s assume the worst for a second. If Johnson, Cherundolo and Chandler are not available on Feb. 6, the outside defenders will probably be Edgar Castillo on the left and Michael Parkhurst on the right.

Castillo has been in good form lately for Club Tijuana. He has the distinction of having played both for the Mexican and U.S. national teams. His three appearances with the Mexican senior team were all in friendlies, and he has since cap-tied with the USMNT.

Parkhurst is primarily a center back for FC Augsburg, but is more comfortable and experienced at right back. The former New England Revolution defender has 15 caps with the USMNT.

Also, that worst case could open more roster room for players at the Southern California camp. Klinsmann had said he expects eight or nine from camp to travel to Honduras, but that earlier estimate may now be revised upward.

Outside defenders in camp include A.J. DeLaGarza (Los Angeles), Alfredo Morales (Hertha), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Justin Morrow (San Jose) and Connor Lade (New York).

Steven Beitashour (San Jose) was in camp, but bowed out with an injury.

As Klinsmann pares down the 23 remaining campers to an 18-player roster for the Jan. 29 friendly with Canada, it will be interesting to see which of these players dresses for that game and which two start. 

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