Fabian Johnson has established himself as a very good left back for the United States and Hoffenheim, which is no small task considering the Yanks' inability to fill the position for more than a decade, but the U.S. will have to take on Antigua and Barbuda without him, according to Kicker. The German publication is reporting that Johnson has the flu and that it will keep him out of Friday's World Cup qualifier.
Losing Johnson would be a blow to the U.S., especially with Landon Donovan and Brek Shea out because of injury. Their absences were already going to make getting width difficult enough and the hope was that Johnson could almost single-handedly handle the wide play on the left, but now he may be out too.
The U.S. did not have Johnson when they took on Antigua and Barbuda in June and still won 3-1. Jose Francisco Torres started in his place, but he was a left back in name only. Torres was so far up the pitch that he was effectively a midfielder, but he is not on the roster for this match either. The U.S. also had Donovan for that match, who spent much of the contest racing up the left side.
If Johnson cannot play, the U.S. has three options at left back. The easy answer is to play Edgar Castillo, who plays as more of a wing back for Xolos and will not need to be told twice to get forward for some width. His defending may leave something to be desired, but the Americans are unlikely to be threatened too often by the Benna Boys and he has been in fine form going forward at the club level for more than a year now. The only problem with him is that he is dealing with a foot injury himself and his status is in doubt.
A more conservative option for Jurgen Klinsmann is to push Carlos Bocanegra to the left and start Clarence Goodson with Geoff Cameron in the center. Bocanegra has played plenty of left back so that would not be an issue and Antigua and Barbuda are not going to run at him with any regularity so defensively he should be just fine, but he will not offer much getting forward.
Sticking with the conservative options, Michael Parkhurst can play left back. He won't offer much in the attack, but he is steady defensively and has played some on the left before.