As the U.S. Soccer team disappointed fans in the first two matches of the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers, their next encounter with Anitgua and Barbuda on Friday night will hopefully calm the press that is attacking head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Jurgen has finally decided to give well-known MLS superstar Eddie Johnson the nod at forward, seeking a spark of offensive power.
The national team took an embarrassing 2-1 loss to Jamaica in Kingston on September 7th, and a close 1-0 win over the same team in Columbus on September 11th. If not for Herculez Gomez’ 55′ minute free kick goal, the U.S. would find themselves 3rd in Group A with a tough climb back to first. They currently sit in a three way tie for first.
Landon Donovan and Brek Shea are both expected to be absent on Friday’s match, healing injuries from MLS play a few weeks back. With key players out, news of Klinsmann dropping Jozy Altidore from the team earlier this week did not feel appropriate. Whether or not his attitude or enthusiasm for the team is positive is irrelevant when you are missing an offensive threat in such a critical time.
After worrying the fans a little too long, Klinsmann’s call for Eddie Johnson has come on short notice for the 28 year old striker. A former Fulham player and impressive MLS star, Johnson has made a name for himself at Seattle and should not be overlooked as a solution for winning. He has recorded eight goals in just nine appearances in WC qualifying games, and leads all Seattle Sounders players with 14 goals this season.
With unforeseeable injuries to Donovan and Shea, it’s too bad these roster changes are coming so late. Sure the team has looked reliable on paper, but Altidore, Goodson, and Fabian Johnson have all found difficultly in finding chemistry the past 5 matches. If the U.S. is to make any sort of run at Brasil in 2014, it is time for a new face to lead the U.S. with Clint Dempsey. Hopefully EJ can be that and more.