Donovan ruled out of World Cup qualifiers

Landon Donovan will not play for the U.S. team in a pair of

upcoming World Cup qualifying matches because of an injured left

knee, adding to what will be a pressure-filled few days for the

Americans.

U.S. Soccer said Tuesday that Donovan – who has more goals and

starting caps than any other player – will likely not be replaced

on what was a 24-man roster for the upcoming qualifiers, first on

Friday on the road against Antigua and Barbuda, then in Kansas City

on Oct. 16 against Guatemala.

Donovan was injured while playing Saturday for the Los Angeles

Galaxy. He was selected by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann for these

qualifiers anyway, and the team’s athletic trainers wanted him to

be evaluated one more time before he started training.

Donovan had scrapped plans for an MRI in Los Angeles on Monday

because he thought his knee had improved.

”Landon was very optimistic over the weekend when his knee was

feeling much better, but now he needs time to recover,” Klinsmann

said.

Brek Shea was also was ruled out of the qualifiers on Tuesday

because of an abdominal injury. Barring a change of plans, that

means Klinsmann will take only 22 players to Antigua for what would

seems to be a must-win match on Friday night.

”We knew Brek was a question mark coming in, and now we have a

clear picture of where he stands,” Klinsmann said. ”We feel

confident that the group we have will get the job done.”

It is not shaping up as an easy task, with three teams playing

for two spots in next year’s regional finals.

The U.S., Guatemala and Jamaica all have seven points after the

first four matches of play in this qualifying round, while Antigua

and Barbuda has one point. For the U.S. to reach next year’s

regional finals, four points – a win and a draw – would seem to be

the most probable requirement.

Guatemala figures to have the toughest draw remaining of the

three teams atop Group A, having to play both Jamaica (which would

currently be the odd team out because of a goal-differential

tiebreaker) and the U.S.

If the Americans win on Friday, they would control their destiny

as far as reaching the next round, no matter what the

Guatemala-Jamaica result is that same night.