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Feb 5, 2014

Aron Johannsson battling injury

Chris Wondolowski took full advantage of his opportunity to impress, scoring both of the United States' goals in a 2-0 exhibition win against South Korea over the weekend.

Few chances remain for Wondolowski -- as well as other Americans hoping to make an impression on coach Jurgen Klinsmann -- before this year's World Cup. For many of U.S. hopefuls, the opportunities will come overseas and players know remaining fit over the next few months is crucial if they hope to earn their spot on the 23-man team.

"There are many different elements that play into the roster, and therefore the door remains open until the very last day," Klinsmann said on the U.S. Soccer Federation website.

The Americans' next match is on March 5 at Ukraine, an exhibition in which all players should be available. Following that, there is the possibility of hosting Mexico in early April and three more exhibitions at home in late May and early June before the U.S. opens World Cup play against Ghana on June 16.

Here's a look at some injury news and otherwise notable happenings for Americans playing overseas in the last week:

Aron Johannsson, who had one of the more memorable goals during the U.S. qualifying run last year, was forced to leave AZ Alkmaar's 2-0 win over Vitesse on Tuesday with a reported groin injury.

The 23-year-old forward was injured late in the first half, only after he had scored his 13th league goal and 21st overall this season for the Dutch Eredivisie team. Johannsson, who played in six games for the Americans last year and has enjoyed a breakout season, also forced an own goal before leaving the field.

Johannsson has one goal for the national team -- a memorable one, indeed. With Panama needing a win to advance to a playoff for a World Cup berth, Graham Zusi tied the score in stoppage time and Johannsson added a goal in a 3-2 victory that put Mexico in the playoff.

Johannsson's injury is one to watch closely for a player widely projected to make the U.S. roster.

Fabian Johnson, a starter for Hoffenheim of the German Bundesliga, dressed but didn't play in a 3-0 winover Hamburg last weekend following the broken hand he sustained a week ago.

Klinsmann said last week Johnson was hopeful of playing with a protective device following surgery to have screws put in his right hand. The versatile 26-year-old midfielder and defender played in eight games for the U.S. last year, starting all eight. Hoffenheim's next match is Saturday at Freiburg.

Jermaine Jones' pursuit of more regular playing time leading into the World Cup ended with the 32-year-old midfielder moving to Turkish club Besiktas late last week.

Jones, with 38 career appearances for the Americans -- including 12 starts last year -- had played for Schalke of the Bundesliga for the last seven years.

However, he had skipped Schalke's training camp during the winter break while seeking a transfer. The German team loaned Jones to Besiktas for the rest of the season, and the Turkish club has the option to make the transfer permanent. Besiktas is fourth in the Turkish league and plays Gaziantepspo on Friday.

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