Shortly before the United States took the field against Guatemala at the Estadio Mateo Flores, ESPN's Jeff Carlisle passed along a message that set the tone for the proceeding few hours: John Brooks was injured and out for the two games against Guatemala.
At some point in the USMNT's rigorous training in the lead up to the match, Brooks suffered a knee contusion that is so bad that US Soccer decided to send him back to Berlin instead of risking him in either match against the Guatemalans. Losing arguably your best centerback before a big match is one thing. Losing him before you're going to play a goalkeeper that hasn't been on the field in the last two months is a disaster.
It's too bad Jurgen Klinsmann won't have Brooks in the USA's absolute must-win game against Guatemala from Columbus, Ohio in a few days. The teams sure could use him.
Brooks has really come into his own this season with Hertha BSC. Being a consistent starter at centerback on the league's third best defense has seen Brooks' stature in the German game increase, with Bayern Munich sniffing around him before he signed an extension to remain in Berlin. With Hertha holding onto a Champions League spot, his club will be hoping that the big centerback's injury isn't serious.