Carlos Bocanegra dropped from U.S. roster for World Cup qualifiers

U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra was dropped Monday from the roster for World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico, and Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams will miss the matches because of injuries and illness.

The 33-year-old Bocanegra, the American captain since 2007, has lost his starting job with Racing Santander in Spain’s second division and has not appeared in a game since Feb. 2. He was on the U.S. roster for the opener in the final round of qualifying, a 2-1 loss at Honduras on Feb. 6 but did not play.

With Bocanegra dropped after 110 international appearances and goalkeeper Tim Howard injured, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones become the leading candidates to take over as captain.

Eight players are missing from the 23-man roster: Edgar Castillo (triple facial fracture March 2), Timmy Chandler (injured hamstring Saturday), Steve Cherundolo (knee surgery Feb. 6), Howard (broke two bones in back on Feb. 26), Fabian Johnson (sidelined by hip injury since March 3), Jonathan Spector (injured ankle Saturday), Jose Torres (injured hamstring Saturday) and Danny Williams (stomach virus).

In addition, Landon Donovan remains on an extended offseason break before rejoining the Los Angeles Galaxy in late March.

Clint Dempsey, who has been sidelined by a calf strain since Feb. 21, returned Sunday to play the second half in Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Fulham. Bradley has struggled for playing time of late for Roma and has not gone a full 90 minutes since Feb. 24.

Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, a veteran of three World Cups, rejoins the team for the first time since an exhibition at Mexico last August. Midfielder Brek Shea also was picked despite being limited to two appearances, both as a substitute, since joining Stoke in January.

The injuries leave the U.S. with a makeshift defense for the games against Costa Rica on Friday at Commerce City, Colo., and March 26 at Mexico City.

Brad Guzan takes over in goal in his first qualifying appearance since 2009. The new central defense tandem of Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron was shaky in the opening qualifier of the 10-team final round, and coach Jurgen Klinsmann has no experienced options at outside back.

Just six defenders are on the roster, with Cameron and Gonzalez joined by Tony Beltran, Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson and Justin Morrow. Cameron has played right back for Stoke, and Beasley has played left back at times.

Beltran, Besler and Morrow made their national team debuts during a January exhibition against Canada.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Sean Johnson (Chicago), Nick Rimando (Salt Lake)

Defenders: Tony Beltran (Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke, England), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Justin Morrow (San Jose)

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), Kyle Beckerman (Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma, Italy), Joe Corona (Tijuana, Mexico), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor, Turkey), Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Brek Shea (Stoke, England), Graham Zusi (Kansas City)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, Austria), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham, England), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna, Mexico), Eddie Johnson (Seattle)

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