Mere hours after coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced a shake up to his coaching staff, the U.S. MNT was further roiled by news that Liga MX club Puebla, had refused to release DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco for Tuesday night’s game against Mexico. Klinsmann had already been forced to replace his projected World Cup starter at right fullback, Brad Evans, due to injury, now he will have to do without Beasley, number one on the left back depth chart.
Klinsmann was none too pleased with Puebla’s action, saying in a U.S. Soccer statement, “we are very disappointed in the decision by Puebla.” “When the match was scheduled, it was with the spirit that both teams would have access to their domestic-based players for what is a very important game for those competing for spots in the World Cup. Both MLS and most clubs in Liga MX honored that idea. While we understand their position, it’s a huge opportunity lost for DaMarcus and Michael and doesn’t contribute to the continuation of this respected rivalry.”
Because this is not a FIFA International Date, clubs are not required to release their players, and the last place Gladiators apparently decided that they needed to keep Beasley and Orozco available for training.
Puebla’s move leaves Klinsmann short of defenders for this showdown with Mexico, and it robs the back four of a much needed chance to build continuity with Brazil looming. The first choice U.S. defense, Beasley, Evans, Besler and Gonzalez, had all been expected for this match, but with his fullbacks missing others will have a chance to step forward.
Just six defenders will travel to Phoenix, and unless Klinsmann opts for midfielder Maurice Edu in a defensive role, Michael Parkhurst and DeAndre Yedlin should get the start. The experienced Parkhurst has stepped in at a moments notice in the past, most recently last September 10, in Columbus when the U.S. shutout Mexico 2-0 to book their passage to Brazil. Parkhurst came on at halftime of that match for an injured Fabian Johnson, and gave a solid performance.
Yedlin and Tony Beltran are Klinsmann’s remaining fullbacks, and the young Seattle player figures to get the nod over Beltran, who was called in to replace Evans. Yedlin impressed Klinsmann in the January camp, and a good game against Mexico could give his longshot World Cup run a significant boost.
Of the two Puebla men, Orozco seems to have the most to lose. Klinsmann has repeatedly singled out Beasley as his first choice left fullback, while Orozco is in a dogfight to make the roster as a reserve center back. Orozco’s chances presumably were on the rise following the 2-0 U.S. loss to Ukraine on March 5, a loss that reflected poorly on center backs Oguchi Onyewu and John Brooks. Missing out against Mexico deprives Orozco of an important chance to impress, and with time running out, there won’t be many more.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
U.S. Soccer announced that Beasley and Orozco will not be replaced.