Pearce dropped, Pontius added to U.S. team

MANHATTAN BEACH -- Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce is out, and Yorba Linda's Chris Pontius is in.

The U.S. national team on Monday made two substitutions on its 24-man roster for Friday's game at Home Depot Center against Costa Rica and next week's friendly in Brussels against Belgium, replacing Pearce and FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd with D.C. United attacker Pontius and Birmingham City's Jonathan Spector.

Pearce suffered a hamstring injury in Chivas' loss Saturday night to Real Salt Lake -- he said trainers told him they believe it is torn, but no word yet on what tests determined -- and Loyd is nursing a hamstring strain.

Pontius (Servite HS and UC Santa Barbara), 24, who was in the U.S.'s January 2009 camp at HDC, can play several attacking positions and has been employed primarily on the left wing with D.C. He has scored a career-best seven goals in his third season with the club.

DEALING WITH BRADLEY: U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was asked Monday during a roundtable discussion with L.A. soccer media whether it was uncomfortable coaching Michael Bradley, the son of Bob Bradley, Klinsmann's predecessor, who was dismissed from the job last month.

Bradley, whom Major League Soccer's website reports is finalizing a deal to join Italian Serie A club Chievo Verona before Europe's transfer window closes Wednesday, was a starting midfielder for the U.S. in Klinsmann's debut, a 1-1 draw Aug. 10 with Mexico in Philadelphia.

“It was not complicated at all,” Klinsmann said. “I called him up and said, 'Michael, first of all, I have the highest respect for Bob. He did a great job, and I will touch base with him down the road. ... I definitely want to sit down with Bob and pick his brain and have a soccer talk.'

“I told him I'm there simply to help him.”

JOHNSON CAN'T PLAY: German-born defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson, who plays at 1899 Hoffenheim, is not yet eligible to play for the U.S. -- he represented Germany at the 2009 UEFA U-21 Championship, and FIFA must grant approval for his switch to his father's homeland.

Klinsmann said that he brought in Johnson “because I want him to experience now what the U.S. national team is about ... to be part of this group, to see how it is to be part of an American team and experience the spirit here and how people interact with each other. It's different [than in Germany], because I know both sides.”

WORTH NOTING: Forward Clint Dempsey is dealing with back spasms and will remain in London for treatment, missing Friday's game. The Fulham star is slated to join the U.S. team in Brussels. ... Klinsmann says he hopes to play two games in Europe in November. U.S. Soccer is finalizing arrangements for two games in the U.S. next month. ... The U.S. will hold an open training session Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. at Home Depot Center, and U.S. Soccer is asking those who might attend to register by email to rsvp@ussoccer.org. Klinsmann, who had similar sessions while serving as Germany's head coach, said he hoped to hold an open training for fans during every camp.