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U.S. keeper Tim Howard missed training due to a quadriceps strain. ((Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images))

Before wrapping themselves in the red, white and blue, the U.S. soccer team surrounded themselves with orange and black.

Players began training for the World Cup on Monday at Princeton University's Roberts Stadium, a $13.4-million US soccer facility opened two years ago by the alma mater of U.S. coach Bob Bradley, who also coached the Tigers from 1984-95.

Even on the first day of workouts, there were injuries that caused goalkeeper Tim Howard (quadriceps strain), defender Jay DeMerit (abdominal strain), forward Eddie Johnson (hamstring strain) and defender Chad Marshall (slight hamstring strain) to be in the trainer's room instead of out on the lush, green grass.

Defender Carlos Bocanegra (abdominal strain) did ball work on his own. Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and Jose Torres were off getting physicals, and four players based in Europe had yet to arrive.

And there were still questions about one player who won't be coming, forward Charlie Davies, who thought he had recovered sufficiently from a near-fatal car crash last October to merit an invitation only to learn last Tuesday he had been omitted from the 30-man preliminary roster.

Bradley said he made the decision based on input from U.S. trainers and the staff of Davies's French club, Sochaux. Bradley even viewed a video of Davies in a recent training session in France.

He understood Davies's anger last week.

"There's a lot of emotion at that time," he said. "From right after the accident until now, you know, he put all his energy and emotion into his rehab, and he did it, you know, with an obvious timetable."

Bradley shared a conversation he had with Davies in February, saying he felt as if he were a father or an older brother. He had been aware of all the favourable accounts Davies had been giving of his rehabilitation during interviews and on his Twitter account.

"I told him that I felt that if he could keep his attitude, his mentality, his work ethic, that that was going to be very important." he said. "But I also said, if you can find a way to work and put everything into it and maybe not have so much to say, I think it would work for you.

"Because you don't want to put yourself in a position that you're making all this progress and yet somehow it seems like a failure because the timing just doesn't coincide with the World Cup. What's most important is that you can still get yourself back to the level that you were playing before the accident."