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By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Fabian Johnson
There are scores to settle, family feuds and no shortage of karmic reckoning. For something so random, Friday's World Cup draw delivered a blockbuster mix of intrigue, entertainment and story lines that will keep folks talking from now until the tournament kicks off June 12.
Altidore has scored in five straight games, a first for a U.S. player, and also had an assist on Eddie Johnson's goal. It was the first time the U.S. has come back to win a game in Europe.
Before 20,250 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Americans remained atop the six-team CONCACAF group. The United States (4-1-1) won three straight games this month, all since a 0-0 draw at Mexico gave it a boost toward the top.
The U.S. holds a two-point lead over Costa Rica and Mexico in the qualifying group in the 10-game final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region. They will host Honduras next Tuesday night in Sandy, Utah.
The 33-year-old Bocanegra, captain since 2007, has lost his starting job with Racing Santander in Spain's second division. He was in the U.S. squad for the 2-1 loss at Honduras last month in the final round of qualifying but didn't play.
The United States heads into World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico with an inexperienced defense after dropping captain Carlos Bocanegra and learning eight players are injured or ill.
Clint Dempsey put the Americans ahead in the 36th minute but the Americans, using a new-look defense that featured Omar Gonzalez and Timmy Chandler, gave up the lead when Juan Carlos Garcia tied the score in the 40th at San Pedro Sula.
With injuries to Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson, and Danny Williams' lack of playing time, the U.S. has defensive worries heading into next week's World Cup qualifier at Honduras, the opener in the final round to get to next year's tournament in Brazil.
With the World Cup qualifying standings a mess, the U.S. national team has found a way to simplify things: win and win.
Marco Pappa scored on a free kick in the 83rd minute, giving Guatemala a 1-1 tie with the United States in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night.
For all the growth the U.S. national team has experienced under Jurgen Klinsmann in recent months, piecing together a five-game winning streak while at times brandishing an attractive, free-flowing style of play, it's still a work in progress. And a world power such as Brazil is not kind to unfinished products.
Two years ago, Fabian Johnson was starting for Germany in the final of the European Under-21 Championship alongside such future stars as Mesut Oezil, Sami Khedira and Manuel Neuer.
With World Cup qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup on the schedule this season, Johnson said he sensed a high level of intensity during the January practices.
"This crunch time," Johnson said. "It's time to get focused, time to get serious. All of us had good seasons last year and we put the work in for three weeks in L.A. Now, hopefully, we can let the hard work speak for itself."