TAMPA, Fla. -- Any consistency along the backline for the United States took another hit after team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced that neither of his left backs, Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo, would feature against Antigua and Barbuda.
Johnson could be ready for Guatemala a few days later, but both will be out of the first World Cup qualifying game on Friday.
"It will be difficult for [Johnson] tomorrow. Probably not. We don't want to force it," Klinsmann said. "Hopefully it's working out against Guatamela."
Klinsmann added, "Edgar took an injury today too, during practice. He pulled his hamstring."
With his two left backs out, Klinsmann tried to put a positive spin on a tough situation.
"We always have left backs, anyone can play left back," Klinsmann joked.
During the three week training camp, the U.S. has seen Carlos Bocanegra paired with Oguchi Onyewu, Geoff Cameron and Clarence Goodson to determine what works best. There have been some bright spots, as Johnson appears to have locked down the left back spot, but there have also been some mishaps, as evidenced from the team's 4-1 loss against Brazil.
Bocanegra believes that the performance against Canada and Brazil was partially due to fatigue. He expects that a recharged U.S. backline should hold up well in the team's upcoming games against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatamela.
"We look a bit tired against Brazil and Canada and we weren't that sharp," Bocanegra said.
The U.S. captain expects that while the backline is still trying to form an identity, the team defense will rely on the efforts of central midfielders Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones.
"It's getting better," said Bocanegra. " We're confident back there. The midfield is doing a good job of backing us up."
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