US team prepares for final qualifying matches
SANDY, Utah (AP)
A spate of injuries has robbed the United States national team of some top players entering its final two qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup.
That hasn't hurt Jurgen Klinsmann's confidence that his team will head to Brazil with positive momentum.
The U.S. already has qualified for the World Cup and wants to maintain its focus as the players reassemble for training camp on Sunday to prepare for the matches against Panama and Jamaica this month.
''All you need to say is Brazil,'' Klinsmann said, while addressing reporters before the U.S. Open Cup final between Real Salt Lake and D.C. United on Tuesday. ''The race is on. The race has been on since we started two years ago.''
Both Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley could miss the games, against Jamaica on Oct. 11 at Kansas City, Kan., and at Panama four days later.
Jones is considering knee surgery to repair meniscus problems and could be out for at least six weeks. Bradley has struggled with a sprained ankle that has kept him from playing with his club team, Roma.
Klinsmann acknowledged that Bradley will likely not have enough time to get back into form in time for either match.
Clint Dempsey also is questionable with a hamstring injury that has kept him out of two consecutive matches for the Seattle Sounders. Klinsmann expects that Dempsey, who is expected to return to action with Seattle this week, can join the U.S. team on Sunday.
Being short-handed means that Klinsmann may draw on more MLS players to fill out his roster. That move won't be popular with league coaches who are making a final push for the playoffs. Klinsmann said preparing for the World Cup has priority over other considerations.
''It's absolutely not an issue for us,'' Klinsmann said. ''This is World Cup qualifying. We want to end it on a high note.''