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Kick Off: Injury crisis reaches epic proportions for USMNT

Yeah, US national team fans want the hex. But not this kind of hex.

The injury news doesn’t stop for Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT. After attacking stars Landon Donovan and Brek Shea had to leave the team, now both left backs won’t make the trip to Antigua and Barbuda. Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo will miss Friday’s game, including one of them due to the flu.

And so if the US are going to make it to the CONCACAF Hexagonal, it will likely have to resort to the duo that was wreaking havoc in barbeque places together five years ago with the USMNT under Bob Bradley: Watch how Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson used to live it up while on international duty. (VIDEO)

Seattle’s EJ, in his grand return to the USMNT, believes that “the biggest thing going on in my corner is having a coach of German background.” Find out which one he’s talking about here.

Another forward in camp, San Jose Earthquakes striker Alan Gordon, is hoping for his first cap. How poetic would it be if it came on his 31st birthday next Tuesday in the finale against Guatemala at Livestrong Sporting Park?

More likely to play a major role in the match against Antigua and Barbuda is Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi, who his former college coach believes is coming into his own because he’s leaving his Mr. Nice Guy approach to the side: “He’s such a nice and respectful person that I think he almost needs to get to the point where he gets permission to exert himself into the game,” says Sasho Cirovski.

Friday night’s match against Antigua and Barbuda will be played on a cricket field: “It’s the only stadium big enough to accommodate the kind of crowd we’ll have on Friday. The lads say this will be the biggest game ever in Antigua, so we anticipate it being full,” says one A&B player who plays in Scotland.

Speaking of Scotland, USMNT captain Carlos Bocanegra admits he would have opted to stay with Rangers FC in the Scottish fourth division if not for the US national team: “My national team career was a big, big issue in my moving,” Bocanegra told FoxSoccer.com. “But I still want to fight for my position with the national team. If the national team wasn’t involved, I would have 100 percent stayed with no regrets.”

You expect national teams to be on the same page by now given there are only two qualifiers left to determine the CONCACAF Hexagonal. That’s not the case with Canada. While manager Stephen Hart praises Cuba’s “very good center back” and calls him a “class player,” Canadian forward Olivier Occean quips: “He's not a really outstanding player. He's just a Cuban center back. That's how I see it."

He’s just the highest-rated player in the MLS Castrol Index. LA Galaxy designated player Robbie Keane will be missing his country’s match on Friday after suffering an Achilles; injury and will skip the Republic of Ireland’s battle vs. Germany.

One MLS player is already on the board in international play, scoring a golazo for his national team last night. Philadelphia Union midfielder Keon Daniel sent a screamer into the back of the net to help Trinidad and Tobago beat French Guyana in the Caribbean Cup. (VIDEO)

We haven’t heard much about Portuguese youth international David Viana since he signed with Real Salt Lake several weeks ago. Well, he starred in RSL’s 5-5 Reserve League tie vs. Houston and can’t wait to get in a game with the first team in front of the Rio Tinto Stadium crowd: “I think the atmosphere is better than in Europe,” he says.

Watch the highlights and all 10 goals from that wild Reserve League match in this video package. (VIDEO)

He went from reserve player to starter and hasn’t given up his spot: We’re talking about FC Dallas center back Matt Hedges, who has set a new club record for minutes played by a rookie. “When they choose a rookie of the year, it’s going to be somebody who played a lot, somebody who helped the team a lot. So I think he’s matched up and he’ll be in the conversation,” FCD manager Schellas Hyndman said. “I think a lot of that kind of goes to how well the team does.”

The Vancouver Whitecaps are feeling so good about the four-point lead they have over FC Dallas for that fifth and final playoff spot in the West that they’ve already put playoff tickets on sale.

Even though they are on the brink of the playoffs, New York Red Bulls designated player Rafa Márquez is already thinking about next season and the possibility of a loan deal that allows him to play in Mexico: “There's been changes at Red Bull and there will be more changes, with new directors coming into the institution,” he said. “They'll be more accessible about looking at the options.”

The options for next US women’s national team head coach are narrowing down. Find out who the lead candidates are in this article on NBC Pro Soccer Talk.

A women’s college soccer player is in the news. She plays for BYU and the gossip sites have identified her as the significant other of Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper. (PHOTOS)

On a very different note, services were held yesterday for the New York Red Bulls youth coach murdered near Union Square in downtown NYC over the weekend. Many of the kids who attended wore “Jonesy’s” jersey and his number. (VIDEO)

Staying in New York, MLS is sharing details of the plans that are in the work for a new soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. And league officials are targeting a launch of the team in 2016.

After expansion news coming out of Minnesota, Orlando and now New York, why not add another stadium discussion to the list? A group in St. Louis has come up with designs for a new downtown soccer stadium and a current MLS owner is somehow connected. Find out more here.

The new sole owners of Chivas USA, CD Guadalajara owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, have revealed that they will be signing papers on Friday that will finalize the transaction. (SPANISH)

Another developing story features former MLS great Hristo Stoitchkov, who reports indicate was involved in a kerfuffle with a Chicago journalist. That’s what Chicago police are investigating after a complaint was filed by a writer for Chicago-based Bulgaria Today.

In England today, MLS is front and center at the Leaders In Football conference as MLS Commissioner Don Garber and a handful of the league’s owners discuss the game as it has evolved in the United States. Follow the Twitter updates here. They’re sure to be asked about the Seattle tifo that The Guardian selected as one of the best in the world, right?

You want colorful? For those who enjoy broadcaster Ray Hudson, there’s someone who has come up with “The Illustrated Ray Hudson” – his colorful sayings put into pictures. (PHOTOS)

Hudson often uses FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi as inspiration, but who ever thought of using Messi for drug smuggling? Yep, one guy tried to conceal 24 pounds of marijuana behind a Messi portrait while on a bus.

Finally, you can listen to Hudson every day alongside broadcasts of the MLS Cup playoffs and MLSsoccer.com’s own ExtraTime Radio on the new soccer channel being launched by SiriusXM radio: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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WATCH: The new and improved Anatomy of a Goal with RSL’s Fabian Espindola

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