U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley suffered a Grade 2 sprain to his left ankle Friday, a diagnosis not as severe as first feared but significant enough that he will remain inactive for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico.
Even before the diagnosis, the USSF had ruled him out of the match at Columbus Crew Stadium. Bradley, injured while taking a shot during warm-ups before Friday’s 3-1 loss at Costa Rica, underwent an MRI exam Saturday after arriving in Ohio.
“Hopefully he is back quickly. He won’t make it for Tuesday night, obviously,” Coach Juergen Klinsmann said. “It’s been a bummer.”
Bradley will remain with the delegation through Wednesday before returning to Italy for further evaluation by AS Roma. “Having him around is such a positive,” Klinsmann said.
A Grade 2 sprain is considered moderate but will likely sideline him for several weeks.
The other four players scratched from the roster — all are healthy — have returned to their clubs to begin preparing for league matches this weekend.
The replacements arrived in Columbus today: Clarence Goodson from San Jose, Brad Davis from Houston, and Joe Corona and Jose Torres from Mexico. (Corona and Torres landed just in time for practice and met the team at the stadium.)
Torres played the first 45 minutes of Tigres’ 3-3 home draw with Chivas on Saturday night and Corona was an unused sub for Tijuana’s 3-0 victory over Veracruz.
Goodson was called away from the San Jose Earthquakes’ home match against the Philadelphia Union this evening and Davis missed the Houston Dynamo’s home game against the New York Red Bulls today.
Because qualifiers fall in FIFA fixture windows, clubs must release any player named to the U.S. preliminary list two-plus weeks ago. The list is not made public but clubs are notified at the time.
Minutes after the Costa Rica match ended late Friday, the USSF technical staff was on the phone with clubs to ensure the quartet could begin arranging travel to Columbus.
In Klinsmann’s opinion, two of the three yellow cards resulting in suspensions should not have been issued.
“Jozy Altidore‘s little push — you don’t give a yellow card for that in the 92nd minute. The foul on Matt Besler was not a foul. [Joel Campbell] faked it.”
Geoff Cameron was also booked in the match, his second yellow of qualifying.
The replacements “are all part of that inner circle — they know exactly what we expect, how we want to play,” Klinsmann said.
John Brooks also returned home, to Hertha Berlin. The purpose of inviting him, Klinsmann said, was “to gain experience, to get deeper connected with his group” so he is more comfortable the next time he is called. With just one cap, Brooks was not in the plans to play in a crucial qualifier.
Klinsmann, on the impact of the Mexican coaching change: “Certainly for them they have their backs against the wall. So they will come out and fight and fight for every inch on the field. They will give everything they have because that is what their nation now expects from them.”
In predictable solidarity within the coaching fraternity, Klinsmann added: “I feel sorry for Chepo because he is an outstanding coach, but the points were not there.”
Is fourth-place Mexico in a vulnerable state after losing at home and dumping its coach?
“Quite the opposite,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “They are not going to be the vulnerable animal that everyone thinks. They are going to cause us a hell of a lot of problems. We are capable of handling and we are capable of winning, but it’s not going to be easy, no matter what they are going through.”
*Tuesday’s kickoff time: 8:06 p.m. ET.
*TV coverage: Live on ESPN, UniMas, WatchESPN, www.univisiondeportes.com
Pregame coverage will appear on ESPN2 between 5:30 and 8 p.m. The UniMas build-up begins at 6 p.m.
During the match, ESPN3.com will offer three live specialized views: “Goal Line Cam” (robotic cameras around the nets), “Star Player Cam” (following key U.S. players) and “End Zone Cam” (wide views from behind the goals).
Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ESPN Classic will show the three previous USA-Mexico qualifiers played in Columbus, as well as the scoreless draw at Azteca in March.
*Game-time weather outlook: 80 degrees after a high of 91 during the day, 0 chance of rain.