Landon Donovan will not play for the US team in a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifying matches because of an injured left knee, adding to what will be a pressure-filled few days for the US.
US Soccer said Tuesday that Donovan — who has more goals and starting caps than any other player — will likely not be replaced on what was a 24-man roster for the upcoming qualifiers, first tomorrow on the road against Antigua and Barbuda, then in Kansas City on Tuesday against Guatemala.
Donovan was injured while playing on Saturday for the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was selected by US coach Jurgen Klinsmann for these qualifiers anyway, and the team’s athletic trainers wanted him to be evaluated one more time before he started training.
Donovan had scrapped plans for an MRI in Los Angeles on Monday because he thought his knee had improved.
“Landon was very optimistic over the weekend when his knee was feeling much better, but now he needs time to recover,” Klinsmann said.
Brek Shea was also was ruled out of the qualifiers on Tuesday because of an abdominal injury. Barring a change of plans, that means Klinsmann will take only 22 players to Antigua for what would seems to be a must-win match tomorrow night.
“We knew Brek was a question mark coming in, and now we have a clear picture of where he stands,” Klinsmann said. “We feel confident that the group we have will get the job done.”
It is not shaping up as an easy task, with three teams playing for two spots in next year’s regional finals.
The US, Guatemala and Jamaica all have seven points after the first four matches of play in this qualifying round, while Antigua and Barbuda has one point. For the US to reach next year’s regional finals, four points — a win and a draw — would seem to be the most probable requirement.
Guatemala figures to have the toughest draw remaining of the three teams atop Group A, having to play both Jamaica and the US.