TAMPA, Fla. – Another day, another left back down.
Jose Francisco Torres – the emergency starter on the left side of defense with Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo unavailable to injury – was stretchered off the field in the 55th minute during the United States men’s national team's 3-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda on Friday night.
He was taken for X-rays, but Jurgen Klinsmann did not sound positive about the Pachuca midfielder's chance to be ready for the Americans’ next game, at Guatemala on June 12.
The good news for the US, however, is that Johnson appears closer to returning.
"We are still very, very hopeful," Jurgen Klinsmann said of the Hoffenheim defender in a press conference after the match. "It's not looking bad."
If Johnson can't play, however, Carlos Bocanegra would be the "logical thought" to slide over, according to the US manager. That move, in turn, would create an interesting decision when it comes to the center back spots. Clarence Goodson has one starting role locked up, but the other is open.
Oguchi Onyewu came on in Friday’s win after Torres' injury but struggled to keep up. The Sporting CP defender lost a footrace to Peter Byers, which resulted in the only goal of the game for the visitors. Klinsmann was forgiving of Onyewu, and admits wasn't 100 percent.
"We're not expecting everyone to play perfect games," he said. "If there's a mistake that happened like the goal, it happens."
But that makes two straight poor performances for Onyewu, and there's another man waiting in the wings.
"I can't give Geoff Cameron enough playing time," Klinsmann said. "He's done a great job this month. He did an amazing job in the January camp."
Onyewu may be the incumbent, but in press conferences, the US coach repeatedly points out that spots are up for grabs – there are no fixed starters on Klinsmann's American squad; reputation and past performance means little to the former German star. For him, it's all about "can you help me now?"
"There will be a fight for spots," he said. "There are no guarantees for anybody."