Herculez Gomez leaves USA team due to knee injury

Dustin Bradford

Herculez Gomez is the latest U.S. player to fall victim to injury.

The United States, already ravaged by injury and suspension, was dealt another blow on Monday when Herculez Gomez was sent home to rehab his injured right knee. Gomez will miss the Americans' World Cup qualifier against Panama on Tuesday and, in all likelihood, their qualifier on June 18 against Honduras.

Gomez has been dealing with a bone contusion in his right knee for more than a month now. It became a bit of an issue in the final weeks of the season with Santos Laguna and some treatment he received after joining up with the U.S. caused more swelling than before.

Gomez did not play in the U.S.' friendlies against Belgium and Germany or in their qualifier last week against Jamaica. He hasn't even taken part in full training, instead spending most of his time resting and getting treatment on his bothersome knee.

The U.S. was already going to be short on choices against Panama with the concussed Jermaine Jones ruled out, Danny Williams and Maurice Edu injured and Graham Zusi suspended. Had Gomez been fit -- and to be fair, he was always a longshot to play in this match even before he was sent home -- he could have slotted in on the right wing, allowing Jurgen Klinsmann more options, like Sacha Kljestan, to replace Jones in the middle.

Now Kljestan has to be an option on the right, which means playing Geoff Cameron out-of-position in the midfield or giving the still-recovering Stuart Holden a look. The only other possibility for Klinsmann is to switch to a 4-3-3 with Kljestan and probably Cameron (or Cameron at right back and Brad Evans in the midfield) alongside Michael Bradley and three forwards.

Klinsmann said over the weekend that he would not call in any other players to replace the growing list of injured Americans, but he may change his mind before the Honduras match with Gomez almost-certainly out and Jones dealing with a concussion, which is always unpredictable. Kyle Beckerman and Landon Donovan appear to be the most obvious candidates, but Klinsmann has expressed confidence before in the group he has at his disposal so he could just as easily choose to take on the Catrachos with the team he has, which will include Zusi, even if Gomez and Jones are unavailable.

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