Alejandro Bedoya to miss U.S. game vs. Mexico, Gyasi Zardes likely to step in
PASADENA, Calif. - U.S. national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya won't be able to play against Mexico in Saturday's CONCACAF Cup at the Rose Bowl because of illness.
Bedoya was feeling unwell on Wednesday morning and didn't train that day or on Thursday. On Friday, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann confirmed that Bedoya hadn't recovered in time to play in Saturday's high-profile match, which will decide the region's representative at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
"Ale can't make it -- he got sick, it's simple as that," Klinsmann said during his pregame press conference. "He got a fever and he didn't train for two days and he's still not where he should be...it's a bummer for Ale because he was burning for this game."
Klinsmann said that Bedoya will be replaced on the Americans' 23-man roster by young striker Bobby Wood, who scored game-winning goals against the Netherlands and Germany in June. Who steps in for Bedoya in Klinsmann's starting lineup -- the 28-year-old was projected to man the right wing -- is less clear.
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The leading candidate is LA Galaxy youngster Gyasi Zardes.
"Ale's an experienced guy, so it's a huge blow," Zardes said. "At the same time there are other guys on this roster that are capable of filling in. We prepare for moments like this -- unpredictable moments."
Zardes made his international debut in January but has been amassing valuable experience in the months since. He's played in 15 of the Yanks 16 games this year, and has the second-most minutes on the squad behind captain Michael Bradley.
Bradley said whoever fills in will be able to contribute.
"We'll miss Alejandro for sure -- he's been on the field for us on a lot of big days in the past few years, so certainly from that standpoint it hurts," Bradley said of Bedoya, who started three of four games for the U.S. at last year's World Cup in Brazil.
"But one of the strengths of our team has always been the ability for different guys to step in on different days and really come through. The mentality, the spirit, the commitment from every guy to compete for the guy next to him -- these are things that have carried us on big days and in tough moments.
"We all have total faith that whoever steps in tomorrow, whoever plays in any spot is going to step on the field ready to go."
Asked how Zardes of fellow speedster DeAndre Yedlin might be used, Klinsmann declined to comment. "No, I'm not sharing that," the coach said to laughter.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones also insisted that the focus isn't on any individual player.
"What we need tomorrow is a team effort," Jones said. "If we can bring that on the field like we did in Brazil or in a lot of games, then we can win that game."