CHICAGO (AP) — The United States will be missing Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley for its World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama.
Dempsey has not played since Sept. 13 because of a strained right hamstring, and Bradley has been sidelined since spraining his left ankle during pregame warmups at Costa Rica on Sept. 6.
The U.S. (5-2-1), which already has clinched its seventh straight World Cup berth, selected only 20 players for Friday night's game against Jamaica at Kansas City, Kan., and the match four days later at Panama, which concludes qualifying.
Three of the players were not in camp ahead of the September qualifiers: defender Brad Evans, midfielder Sacha Kljestan and forward Terrence Boyd. Evans had been out with a calf injury.
"It opens up maybe some playing time for a Mix Diskerud or an Aron Johannsson. Maybe up top we can play Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson together," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann told the federation website.
The roster includes two plays from Sporting Kansas City: defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi. In addition to Dempsey and Bradley, other players out with injuries include defenders John Brooks (right elbow) and Clarence Goodson (bruised right knee), and defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson (sprained ankle),
While Jamaica (0-4-4) has virtually no chance of qualifying, Panama (1-2-5) is fourth, ahead of Mexico on goal difference. The top three teams in the final round of North and Central America and the Caribbean qualify for next year's 32-nation field in Brazil, and the fourth-place team earns a home-and-home playoff against New Zealand in November for another berth.
"Once you achieve the goal of qualifying, you understand that the next higher level is already waiting for us. The World Cup is a couple of levels higher up than World Cup qualifying," Klinsmann said. "Players understand this is serious business. We want to see an improvement of the entire squad, and we want to see competition in every spot. You only have to say one word: Brazil. Then you automatically get fired up."