101113_isi_johannssonaron_usmntjt101013126 John Todd/isiphotos.com
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Forward Thinking: Who Plays Up Top With Jozy?

Injuries to Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson have opened the door for two fringe forwards on the U.S. national team. Will Aron Johannsson and Terrence Boyd get a chance to strut their stuff against Jamaica?
BY Jon Arnold Posted
October 11, 2013
10:37 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Despite injuries affecting various positions for the U.S. national team—center back, defensive midfield, and attacking midfield among them—Jurgen Klinsmann thought he had his forward situation all figured out.

Instead, he's dealing with another injury after Eddie Johnson strained his groin at training Wednesday and left camp.

"We'll talk through that still today," Klinsmann said of his situation up top. "We have a training session and will make up our mind today. It was planned to start Eddie the beginning on, but we'll come up with the right decision."

Jozy Altidore, the Sunderland striker who was in searing form for the national team this summer, has been playing as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation but that usually involved support from Clint Dempsey, who is currently with the Seattle Sounders. Partnering Altidore with Johnson, a Sounder like Dempsey, would've been a quick solution to life without the playmaker during the final two World Cup qualifying matches.

The manager brought in Chris Wondolowski, who scored a midweek winner for the San Jose Earthquakes, to replace Johnson, but most don't expect to see a straight swap. Aron Johannsson and Terrence Boyd, two young dual-nationals who play for European clubs, have been in the roster from the start and are in line to get shots against Jamaica and Panama.

Johannsson in particular is a bright new addition to the fold, officially joining the team just before the August friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina. With five league goals this season for AZ and a hat trick in a Dutch Cup match, the Kevin Bacon lookalike has emerged as a U.S. fan favorite and perhaps can make a case an inclusion on the team Klinsmann will take to the World Cup.

The Icelandic-American played the last half hour of the 4-3 win against Bosnia and came on very late in San José when the U.S. lost to Costa Rica, 3-1.

Boyd hasn't appeared in a World Cup qualifier since the Stars and Stripes lost to Jamaica in the previous round of qualifying. He was a 71st-minute sub brought on to help chase the match, which ended in a 2-1 defeat. He did appear in pre-qualifier friendlies against Belguim and Germany this summer.

Now Klinsmann also has the option of deploying Wondolowski. The Quakes forward starred in the early rounds of the Gold Cup but cooled off considerably as the competition progressed—and improved.

While he doesn’t have a tailor-made answer yet, Klinsmann may have his decision made after Thursday's training session. It's something of a testament to his commitment to depth he has several viable options up top.

Who would you like to see at forward for Friday's game against Jamaica and Tuesday's match against Panama? Sound off in the Comments section below.

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