TAMPA, Fla. – First Fabian Johnson, now Edgar Castillo.
The ever-troubling left back position continues to be a problem for the US national team, as Jurgen Klinsmann disclosed to reporters on Thursday evening that Castillo (above right) will likely be be ruled out for the USMNT's 2014 World Cup qualifying opener against Antigua and Barbuda on Friday (7 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
The Club Tijuana defender is suffering what Klinsmann called a "hamstring or groin issue" picked up during training. He'll join Johnson among the US injured – the versatile Hoffenheim talent pulled a calf muscle before the US' match against Canada on Sunday. Castillo, who wasn't even dressed for the game, filled in and played well.
There's a chance Johnson could be ready against Antigua and Barbuda, but Klinsmann didn't sound optimistic.
"Fabian is every day getting a bit better, but it will be difficult for tomorrow," he said at Thursday's press conference. "It's more a no than a yes. We don't want to force it. Hopefully, it will work out against Guatemala [on June 12]."
That said, while Klinsmann may not think Johnson will play, but he didn't sound overly worried about the position.
"We always have left backs," he said. "Anyone can play left back. We'll figure it out. We'll find solutions."
Klinsmann does have alternatives with his roster. He could move Carlos Bocanegra out wide – a position the US captain has played many times, including at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups – with Clarence Goodson and Oguchi Onyewu teaming in the middle. Or he could give Michael Parkhurst or Geoff Cameron a chance on the flank.
Though the position has remained a problem spot for the US, who have had a revolving-door policy there over the past four-plus years, American goalkeeper Tim Howard shared his coach's positive outlook.
"I think we've got some options," the US No. 1 said. "We could play a right-footer on the left side, which is what Fabian is. Of course, Carlos has played there before. I don't think we lack options."