WASHINGTON: Injuries and a lack of playing time have sidelined key United States players, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Monday he is confident a less experienced squad can advance to the 2014 World Cup.
The Americans, coming off a 2-1 qualifying loss in Honduras, will play host to Costa Rica on Friday in Denver and play another high-altitude North American qualifying match for Brazil just four nights later away to arch-rivals Mexico.
"We have put a roster together that gives us confidence to approach both games very positively," Klinsmann said. "We have a roster that enables us to get the job done. We're totally comfortable with this roster."
Goalkeeper Tim Howard of Everton is sidelined with a back injury while Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo is out with a knee injury and West Ham defender Jonathan Spector has a sore ankle.
Nuremberg defender Tim Chandler and Jose Torres, a midfielder for Mexico's Pachuca, are out with hamstring injuries while Tijuana left back Edgar Castillo is suffering from facial fractures and Hoffenheim defender Danny Williams is ill.
All-time US leading scorer Landon Donovan remains off the roster as he finishes a four-month break from Major League Soccer before rejoining defending champions Los Angeles Galaxy later this month.
"It depends on how he comes back and how I look at his development," Klinsmann said. "As of today right now he's not part of things because he's simply not playing or training."
Asked if he thought he should appeal to Donovan to come back to play for his country in the wake of the injuries, Klinsmann said: "No."
And 34-year-old defender Carlos Bocanegra, formerly of Rangers in the Scottish league, finds himself on the bench for Spain's Racing Santander and not in shape to help the Americans this time.
"He's simply not playing," Klinsmann said. "He's still in our picture. But he understands he's behind other players right now."
Players were set to gather on Monday night in Denver, where Klinsmann will reveal to them who will be the new team captain.
Stoke's Geoff Cameron's six caps in qualifying make him the most experienced defender in a line-up that also features MLS-based duo Tony Beltran and Juston Morrow.
Roma's Michael Bradley and DaMarcus Beasley of Mexico's Puebla are the top midfielders while Tottenham's Clint Dempsey will be counted upon to provide a finishing touch.
"We have enough training sessions where he can hopefully get adjusted to the altitude," Klinsmann said, before adding that the changing of the guard is a must.
"You only get experience if you play. You have got to get your games under your belt and get that.
"The players here have the quality and the experience to get the job done. This is the roster we have total trust in and they will gain more experience." -AFP
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