Nine hours, five movies, one refueling in Monterrey and 3,300 miles later, the U.S. national soccer team arrived in Seattle from Jamaica aboard a charter flight that departed Kingston early this morning. From upper-80s and humid to upper-60s and breezy, the Americans embraced another new climate and time zone ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Panama (10 p.m. ET, ESPN, UniMas).
The Sounders are hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps tonight in a Cascadia Cup match that could draw 60,000. Combined with the qualifier, around 100,000 spectators will pass through CenturyLink Field gates to watch live soccer in the Emerald City over four days.
As of Saturday afternoon, ticket sales for the qualifier were hovering around 35,000 — below expectations when the game was awarded to Seattle. Capacity is 42,000.
The U.S. squad will test the temporary natural grass at CenturyLink late in the day Sunday and again Monday.
On the personnel front, midfielder Jermaine Jones is scheduled to undergo testing and extensive evaluation for what was initially believed to be a concussion. If that is the final diagnosis, he will sit out Tuesday’s match. Jones traveled with the team today and seemed in good spirits.
The injury occurred in the 56th minute, when Jones and Daniel Gordon contested a corner kick in the penalty area. Jones was tilting his head backward while Gordon, behind him, was snapping his head forward. Gordon made contact with the back of Jones’s head.
After being treated on the field for several minutes, Jones walked off gingerly under supervision and was examined in the locker room. He later returned to the bench.
The U.S. medical staff will use standard concussion protocol and compare test readings to baseline results taken early in his national team career.
If Jones cannot play, Juergen Klinsmann will weigh several lineup options: Geoff Cameron, a center back who replaced Jones on Friday; Sacha Kljestan, who is more attack oriented; or Danny Williams, although he is not in full fitness and was left off the 23-man roster Friday. Klinsmann could also alter the formation and leave Michael Bradley on his own in defensive midfield.
UPDATE: Williams was dropped from the roster Saturday.
One move is in the works: the right side of midfield to replace Graham Zusi, who will serve a yellow card suspension. Klinsmann could insert Kljestan, Joe Corona or Eddie Johnson; slide Brad Evans forward and play Cameron or Michael Parkhurst at right back; move Fabian Johnson to the right and start Brad Davis on the left; or move Fabian Johnson to the right, push DaMarcus Beasley into his natural midfield role and insert Edgar Castillo at left back.
Got all of that?
For another wrinkle, might Stuart Holden enter the equation? Hmmm. Doubtful but intriguing.
With a new city comes a new third-choice goalkeeper: Tally Hall will rejoin the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando will report to U.S. camp Sunday. Chicago’s Sean Johnson and D.C. United’s Bill Hamid had previously served in that capacity since camp opened May 27.
Did You Know: The United States is 7-1-2 when Seattle hero Evans makes an appearance? The only defeat came in the Belgium friendly May 29 in Cleveland.
If you are in Seattle, the USSF has arranged several fan events in the days and hours leading to the match.