Redskins

Donovan ruled out of World Cup qualifiers

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Donovan ruled out of World Cup qualifiers

MIAMI (AP) Landon Donovan will not play for the U.S. national team in a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifying matches because of an injured left knee, adding to what will be a pressure-filled few days for the Americans.

U.S. Soccer said Tuesday that Donovan - who has more goals, assists and starts than any player in program history - will likely not be replaced on what was a 24-man roster for the upcoming qualifiers, first on Friday on the road against Antigua and Barbuda, then in Kansas City on Oct. 16 against Guatemala.

Donovan was injured while playing Saturday for the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was selected by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann for these qualifiers anyway, and the team's athletic trainers wanted him to be evaluated one more time before he started training.

Donovan had scrapped plans for an MRI in Los Angeles on Monday because he thought his knee had improved.

``Landon was very optimistic over the weekend when his knee was feeling much better, but now he needs time to recover,'' Klinsmann said.

Both the national team and the Galaxy said Donovan was returning to Los Angeles for further evaluation.

That was not the outcome anyone expected. Hours before the Donovan decision was announced, Klinsmann said the Americans had ``very, very positive'' about his status.

``You want your leaders on the team there,'' Klinsmann said.

Brek Shea was also was ruled out of the qualifiers on Tuesday because of an abdominal injury. Barring a change of plans, that means Klinsmann will take only 22 players to Antigua for what would seem to be a must-win match on Friday night.

``We knew Brek was a question mark coming in, and now we have a clear picture of where he stands,'' Klinsmann said. ``We feel confident that the group we have will get the job done.''

It is not shaping up as an easy task, with three teams playing for two spots in next year's regional finals.

The U.S., Guatemala and Jamaica all have seven points after the first four matches of play in this qualifying round, while Antigua and Barbuda has one point. For the U.S. to reach next year's regional finals, four points - a win and a tie - would seem to be the most probable requirement.

Guatemala figures to have the toughest draw remaining of the three teams atop Group A, having to play both Jamaica (which would currently be the odd team out because of a goal-differential tiebreaker) and the U.S.

If the Americans win on Friday, they would control their destiny as far as reaching the next round, no matter what the Guatemala-Jamaica result is that same night.

``You don't want to rely on other people,'' U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. ``We should have done business before these two games, but we didn't, so now there's pressure on us to do that.''

There was some good news on the injury front for the Americans on Tuesday, with midfielder Michael Bradley able to train with teammates. Bradley has been dealing with a leg injury.

About 10 of the 24 players on the roster missed a Tuesday morning training session for a variety of reasons - from jet lag to treatment of minor injuries. Klinsmann said he expected the full roster to be available for a gym session later in the day, and the assumption was that they would all be ready for training Wednesday as well.

Midfielder Jermaine Jones (left ankle) was among those not at training on Tuesday; he leads all American players in appearances (10) and minutes (877) this year, and the expectation is that he will be able to play on Friday. And with the way the injuries are shaking out, Graham Zusi would most likely get the call to play on the wide right side of the midfield.

``We're here to get six points,'' Klinsmann said. ``This is our goal and what we want to achieve.''

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. Yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up on the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY