SportsSoccer

U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann has decisions to make before World Cup opener

SoccerSportsFIFA World CupClint DempseyUnivision (tv network)Jozy AltidoreJermaine Jones
Some starting spots are up for grabs for U.S. World Cup team
U.S. to play Turkey on Sunday in tuneup for World Cup

Time is running out for U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann, who has a lot of decisions to make before his team opens play in the World Cup this month.

The U.S. backline remains unsettled, especially in central defense where Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez are battling for a starting job. Jozy Altidore, struggling to find his form, is suddenly being pressed at forward after Aron Johannsson and Mix Diskerud came off the bench to score in last week's victory over Azerbaijan.

And Klinsmann must also decide which midfielder, Jermaine Jones or Kyle Beckerman, is better suited to the kind of modified diamond formation he appears intent on using.

The answers to some of those questions could become a little clearer Sunday when the U.S. meets Turkey in front of a sellout crowd of more than 25,000 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., (11 a.m. PDT, ESPN2, Univision). The game is the second of three friendlies leading to the team's departure for Brazil next weekend. The sendoff series concludes against Nigeria on June 7 in Jacksonville, Fla..

One thing Klinsmann shouldn't have to worry about is the health of midfielder Clint Dempsey, the team's captain. Dempsey was scratched because of a groin strain moments before the game against Azerbaijan. But he was back in training Friday and is expected to start against Turkey.

"I really didn't have an injury, just tightness in my groin and I felt it didn't make much sense to push it in that game," Dempsey said.

In an effort to get a look at as many players as possible, Klinsmann is likely to use his full complement of substitutions against Turkey, which should provide a better test than Azerbaijan did.

"Turkey is unpredictable and can change the game in one second," Klinsmann said.

Brazilian venues still aren't ready

Less than two weeks before the World Cup opener, FIFA remains concerned about conditions at three stadiums, including one in Natal, where the U.S. is scheduled to play its first game, and in Sao Paulo, where Itaquerao Stadium, site of the June 12 kickoff game between Brazil and Croatia, still isn't complete.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA secretary general, told reporters that construction crews were in a "race against the clock" in Natal, where the U.S. is to play Ghana on June 16, and that there was "much to be done" in Porto Alegre, where France and Honduras are expected to play June 15.

There is even less time to spare at Itaquerao, which is why FIFA requested that a second test game be played there Sunday. Parts of the stadium are not expected to be open to spectators, though, meaning the first time many of the 68,000 seats will be occupied will be during the World Cup opener.

Mexico loses Luis Montes for World Cup

Mexico's World Cup hopes were dealt a serious blow Saturday when midfielder Luis Montes and Rafa Marquez were hospitalized after being injured in the team's 3-1 victory over Ecuador in Arlington, Texas.

Officials said Montes fractured his right tibia and fibula late in the first half, moments after scoring the game's first goal. He was injured during a collision with Ecuador's Segundo Castillo, who was injured on the play. Trainers took a long time to treat Montes on the field before transporting him to a hospital. He will not play in Brazil.

Montes, 28, who plays for Leon in Mexico's Liga MX, has been a key performer for the national team under new Coach Miguel Herrera.

Marquez, 35, a teammate of Montes at Leon, left at halftime after suffering what was described as a thigh injury. Officials announced he was taken to a hospital to be examined. The severity of the injury to Marquez, the team captain, was not immediately known, but Mexico is hopeful he will be back shortly.

Italy also lost a key player when midfielder Riccardo Montolivo broke his left tibia during a friendly against Ireland on Saturday. Montolivo will sit out the World Cup.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
SoccerSportsFIFA World CupClint DempseyUnivision (tv network)Jozy AltidoreJermaine Jones
Comments
Loading