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U.S. men's soccer team frets about defense

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dmitri Kombarov, of Russia, left, and Timmy Chandler, of the United States, struggle for the ball during the friendly soccer match between Russia and United States, in Krasnodar, Russia, on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Game ended with 2-2 draw. (AP Photo/Ignat Kozlov)

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By The Associated Press
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 7:18 p.m.
 

HOUSTON — With injuries to Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson, and Danny Williams' lack of playing time, the U.S. men's soccer team has defensive worries heading into next week's World Cup qualifier at Honduras, the opener in the final round to get to next year's tournament in Brazil.

The Americans play an exhibition against Canada on Tuesday night, their only tune-up this year before the Feb. 6 qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Regulars such as Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley remained with their European clubs for games this weekend and will meet up with the national team Sunday in Miami.

Cherundolo and Johnson sat out games with their German clubs last weekend, and defender Steven Beitashour left the team's three-week training camp in California following surgery to repair a sports hernia. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he'll consider “all the alternatives” at outside backs.

“If there are some players with problems, players with injuries, players who can't make it, or whatever,” Klinsmann said Monday, “we have all the alternatives. We have a little pool where the next in line is ready to go.”

One possible replacement is Timmy Chandler, who recommitted to playing for the U.S. late last year and started at right back in an exhibition match with Russia. Born in Germany, Chandler, who plays for Nuremburg, would become tied to the American national team if he plays in a qualifier.

The outside backs in the January camp included Tony Beltran, A.J. DeLaGarza, Connor Lade, Alfredo Morales and Justin Morrow.

“We monitor closely what the players are doing in Europe, what rhythm of games they have, what goes on with injuries,” Klinsmann said. “At the same time, every training session that we do here, every scrimmage that we play here has an impact on their position in the big picture.”

Twenty-three players went through Klinsmann's January camp, and 18 will suit up against Canada, which already is eliminated from qualifying.

“We have a lot of good, quality players coming through there,” Klinsmann said.

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