Beasley expected to replace Johnson vs. Costa Rica
Posted: Saturday June 4, 2005 12:44PM; Updated: Saturday June 4, 2005 5:03PM
Eddie Johnson hopes to be ready to start in the next qualifier on Wednesday at Panama.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
SALT LAKE CITY -- Red-hot U.S. striker Eddie Johnson told SI.com on Friday that he won't be starting in Saturday night's crucial World Cup qualifier here against Costa Rica, and he may not even be on the bench.
Johnson, the 21-year-old sniper who has scored eight goals in his eight-game U.S. career, has been slowed by a turf toe injury on his right foot. He hopes to be ready to start in the next qualifier on Wednesday at Panama.
In a somewhat surprising move, according to sources close to the team, it's expected that DaMarcus Beasley will start at forward in Johnson's place. The 23-year-old Beasley has almost always played in the midfield for the U.S., though he did see plenty of action at forward last season for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
Members of the U.S. coaching staff say Beasley, who has been recovering from a sprained knee ligament, has been perhaps the team's best player in training this week.
Other news and notes from Salt Lake:
Defender Oguchi Onyewu arrived from Belgium this week with a knee injury that is serious enough to keep him out of the starting lineup against Costa Rica, although the U.S. staff is expecting that he'll be available for the Panama game on Wednesday.
Midfielder Pat Noonan has shown well in training and could likely see time on the field over the next two games, probably as a substitute.
U.S. regulars Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra will not be with the team during July's Gold Cup, the regional championship tournament. They will remain in training with their English Premier League club Fulham, which meets the MLS All-Stars on July 30 in Columbus.
Defensive midfielder Clyde Simms has had an encouraging week of training, the coaching staff says, and while he probably won't see the field in the qualifiers it's likely he'll get considerable playing time during the Gold Cup. Pretty amazing for a player who was plucked by U.S. coach Bruce Arena out of the replacements who trained with the U.S. during January's short-lived player strike.
The U.S. coaching staff firmly supports midfielder EddieLewis' decision not to be with the team this week, citing a serious family matter that he needed to attend.
After training with the national team this week, Cobi Jones has returned to the Los Angeles Galaxy and will be available for L.A.'s game on Saturday against the MetroStars.
A near sellout crowd of more than 40,000 is expected Saturday night at Salt Lake's Rice-Eccles Stadium. If it produces a pro-U.S. atmosphere and the Yanks grab three points, you can be certain more qualifiers will be scheduled in the Beehive State. There's certainly a buzz here that hasn't been seen around a home U.S. World Cup qualifier in a long time. Saturday's Salt Lake Tribune went so far as to call the game the biggest sporting event in the city since the 2002 Winter Olympics. Real Salt Lake officials are also hoping that Saturday's doubleheader (RSL meets FC Dallas in the nightcap) will help their drive to gain public funding for a new soccer-specific stadium.