"It's not fair to raise that question," Jurgen Klinsmann said. He immediately backtracked. "I mean, obviously you can."
The reporter in Kingston, Jamaica's Independence Park had asked the U.S. head coach if the absences of Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan played into the 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss to the Reggae Boyz.
Klinsmann clarified that any blame lay with him ("You can blame me, no problem. It wouldn't be the first time for that") and the squad that took the bumpy field on Friday.
"The guys that stepped on the field are in charge of it. They are responsible to give everything they have. They're responsible for the outcome," the German coach said.
Bradley strained a thigh in training with AS Roma and has been out since the first day of the Serie A season, in which he recorded an assist in the 2-2 draw with Catania. Donovan injured his hamstring in the historic 1-0 win over Mexico in Azteca Stadium last month.
"We got a good result in Mexico with some inexperienced guys and there was no reason we couldn't do that again tonight," Tim Howard said. "Michael of course is a key guy for us and Landon, as you know, makes things happen, but I don't think those are excuses, I really don't. I just think we lacked concentration in some areas and we weren't nearly as resilient as we probably should have been."
Klinsmann argued that he brought a good enough group to beat Jamaica in The Office, the nickname for the stadium where the United States has recorded four draws and, now, one loss.
"I never complain about players that are not here, because there are reasons why they're not here," Klinsmann said. "We take it the way it is. I think we have a good group here together that is able to beat Jamaica. We were just doing too many mistakes out there. Maybe we were leading too early in the game. But it is what it is."
The Stars and Stripes will have a chance to rectify those mistakes on Tuesday when Jamaica visits Columbus, Ohio. A win would put the U.S. level on seven points with Jamaica in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Of course, neither Bradley or Donovan will be there either. However, Steve Cherundolo may recover from a calf injury which made him a late scratch on Friday.
"They're important players to the team, but in saying that, it's like any situation. There are going to be times when guys are going be out for different reasons and that's the case," Maurice Edu said. "You got to just deal with it and give the opportunity for other guys to come in and make their claim and try to help the team."
Mike Slane contributed additional reporting from Kingston, Jamaica
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