Playmaker Claudio Reyna was not included on the U.S. national team roster for a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifiers because of a thigh injury.
Coach Bruce Arena had planned to call in Reyna, the team's longtime captain, for the start of training camp in Washington tomorrow in order to test his sore leg. But "as of late [Thursday] afternoon, it became apparent to us that the injury he suffered approximately 10 days ago [with his English club, Manchester City] was not coming around the way he felt he would, and the decision was made that he would not be a likely candidate for any of our games," Arena explained during a teleconference yesterday.
The Americans (1-0-2) will play at El Salvador (1-2) next Saturday and then host Panama (1-1-1) at RFK Stadium on Oct. 13. Reyna, 31, had played every minute of the first three games in this semifinal round. Without him, Arena will depend on Landon Donovan, Clint Mathis and DaMarcus Beasley to lead the attack.
Arena named 23 players to the roster -- 12 from MLS and 11 from European leagues. Among the other notable omissions were defender Greg Vanney; forward Brian Ching, who is injured; midfielder Chris Armas, who just returned from injuries; and goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
Friedel, whose stellar performances helped the United States advance to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, was passed over for Tim Howard and Kasey Keller despite being the only one of the three playing regularly for their English Premier League clubs. Friedel has played only once for the U.S. team since the World Cup because of club commitments and injuries.
"At this point in time, I didn't want to make another change," said Arena, who also called up Jonny Walker of the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. "I just think it's too many changes, and Kasey and Tim and Jon have done a good job for us. Next time around, we may make some changes, and it will also give Brad a little more time to get back in and get a little sharper."
Arena also apologized for comments he made to the New York Times this week criticizing MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation. "I have to admit at times the passion and commitment I have for the game tends to cloud my judgment," he said, "and apparently it's destroyed some of my brain cells as well."
-- Steven Goff