Bad news came on Saturday, as Dejan Jakovic was red-carded in Los Angeles Football Club’s 1-1 draw against D.C. United. The call, which won’t be overturned, means Jakovic will be suspended for the next game, on Saturday against FC Dallas.
Coupled with fellow center back Laurent Ciman’s departure to serve on international duty with Belgium, it means LAFC’s central defense is going to be shorthanded. But at least Walker Zimmerman will be back after heading out on U.S. Men’s National Team duty for Monday’s friendly against Bolivia, right?
Not so fast.
The Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter reported on Saturday that Zimmerman, who has been training with the USMNT all week and missed the game against D.C. United, “isn’t expected to return until mid-June.”
While that phrase has some wiggle room, it is concerning for LAFC to say the least. Zimmerman will likely play against Bolivia on Monday at Talen Energy Stadium in Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Men’s National Team will have subsequent friendlies in Europe following the Bolivia match, on June 2 against Ireland in Dublin, and on June 9 against France in Lyon. U.S. Soccer have already said that the roster for those latter two friendlies will include other players called in, but Baxter’s reporting indicates there’s a pretty good chance Zimmerman will stick with the USMNT for the entire international window.
If that happens, he’ll miss Saturday’s LAFC game against FC Dallas, which would have been his return to his old stomping grounds, as well as the U.S. Open Cup match at home against Fresno FC on June 6 and a league match against the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on June 9. In other words, he would be out until the World Cup break, when league play will halt for two weeks.
And while LAFC have expressed support for their international call-ups, which include Ciman, Carlos Vela, Omar Gaber and Marco Ureña for the pre-World Cup build-up and could include the tournament itself, losing both Ciman and Zimmerman to go alongside Jakovic’s suspension next week means LAFC would have no pure center backs available, and there’s a distinct chance two rookies — Tristan Blackmon and Joao Moutinho — would start in central defense. If not them, Jordan Harvey or Steven Beitashour, who was out injured against D.C. United, would possibly have to slide over to the middle in a pinch, also not an ideal situation considering neither has spent any time playing center back in the past.
Needless to say, it could be a real white-knuckle situation if none of LAFC’s center backs were available against FC Dallas. We shall see, but it’s sure to be a real concern heading into the next league match.
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