Oguchi Onyewu's return to the squad leaves U.S. coach Bob Bradley wondering how to piece together his defense ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago.PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad--With Oguchi Onyewu returning from suspension, the United States backline that conceded early to El Salvador on Saturday is unlikely to stick together for the Trinidad and Tobago World Cup qualifier.
In the El Salvador match, which the U.S. rebounded to win 2-1, Chad Marshall got his first senior cap alongside captain Carlos Bocanegra, who slotted into the middle from his usual leftback role. That pair was flanked by Jonathan Spector and Jonathan Bornstein.
With AC Milan's Onyewu almost guaranteed a start, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley is left pondering whether to drop the inexperienced Marshall or Bornstein, who made the key error that led to Christian Castillo's goal Saturday.
“Primary options would be just to bring Gooch back in and play Carlos in the center and use Chad as a reserve,” Bradley mused to journalists after training in Port of Spain, Trinidad. “The other one would be to play Chad next to Gooch and play Carlos at left back. They are the two primary possibilities.”
Neither option includes Jay DeMerit, who forged a role in the center of defense during the Confederations Cup. After missing the match on the weekend, the Watford captain didn't recover from a mild groin strain in time and returned to England for further rehab. Similarly, Conor Casey, who had wisdom teeth surgery last Monday, will remain with his club side the Colorado Rapids. That left a roster of 22 that traveled to face the Soca Warriors.
“Jay didn’t travel,” Bradley said, before talking about the health of the rest of his squad, including striker Charlie Davies. “Today we needed to see how a few guys felt, Charlie being one of them. Based upon the little that we did, guys seemed okay. We’ll see how they are later tonight and tomorrow. The hope is that we’ll have everybody open for selection.”
Injury would be the only issue for any of Bradley's squad. Nine players entered the El Salvador match one yellow card away from a suspension, but no one picked up a booking. Though that bodes well for the T&T game, Bradley still has to manage any bookings in further matches.
“We’ve got to play every game accordingly,” Bradley said. “We need guys to still be disciplined and not pick up foolish yellow cards.”
Three games remain in CONCACAF qualifying, and with the top four teams separated by a mere point, Bradley is eager to avoid losing key players for the final crucial matches.
Allen Ramsey, Goal.com with assistance from Zac Lee Rigg in Los Angeles
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