111313_isi_johnsonfabian_usmntjla060213173 Jose L. Argueta/isiphotos.com
International Friendly

Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson Out with Injuries

Two of the top American players pulled up lame in training Wednesday, and will miss the upcoming friendlies against Scotland and Austria. The question now: Who will take their place?
BY John Godfrey Posted
November 13, 2013
3:29 PM
CLINT DEMPSEY, the No. 4 player in the ASN 100, and Fabian Johnson, No. 6 in our latest ranking, are injured and have been released from the U.S. squad that will face Scotland on Friday (3 p.m. Eastern; ESPN2 and UniMas) and Austria four days later (2:45 p.m Eastern; NBC Sports Network, UniMas).

Despite having Bolton defender Tim Ream on standby duty, neither player will be replaced.

U.S. Soccer offered this via press release: "Dempsey suffered a right calf strain during training Wednesday morning in Glasgow. Fabian Johnson is still bothered by a persistent right ankle injury and will return to Hoffenheim for further evaluation."

The announcement raises two issues. First, given the limited number of FIFA-sanctioned international dates between now and next summer's World Cup, there are questions surrounding the U.S.'s ability to develop, and maintain, team chemistry. Both Dempsey and Johnson are first-choice options on the squad, and their absence will only add to concerns that the A-team has not played together as much as Klinsmann would like.

Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore have never played together during Klinsmann's two-plus years at the helm of the United States national team.

Second, given these key absences, who will get a chance to play, and potentially shine, in a fill-in capacity? In-form striker Aron Johannsson seems to be the most likely candidate to start in Dempsey's place. His goal-scoring prowess at AZ Alkmaar is impressive, and he and Altidore developed a friendship when they both played for the Dutch club.

Johnson, a left back/left wing hybrid, has many potential replacements on the current squad. Mix Diskerud, Eddie Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, and even Alejandro Bedoya could fill in for Fabian Johnson on the left side of midfield in either or both matches. It will be interesting to see who gets the call, as that will give us insight into Klinsmann's current pecking order.

This would be a good time to update your ASN Starting XI—and if you haven't created one yet, do so now. One lucky participant will receive an ASN T-Shirt just for creating and sharing a roster.

What do you think of this news? Who would you start in place of Dempsey and Fabian Johnson? Share your thoughts below.

John Godfrey is the founder and editor in chief of American Soccer Now.

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