By FRANCO PANIZO
SAO PAULO — To no one’s surprise, Jozy Altidore has been ruled out of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s upcoming World Cup match against Portugal.
A U.S. Soccer spokesman said Thursday that Altidore will not play on Sunday in Manaus after suffering a left hamstring strain in the first half of the U.S’s 2-1 win over Ghana on Monday. The severity of the injury was not disclosed, but the spokesman added that the team is hopeful he can return at some point in the tournament.
The loss of 24-year-old Altidore is a tough blow for the Americans, who could book their ticket to the next round with a win over Portugal and a Germany triumph against Ghana.
“He’s a big player for us and I think we all came into this World Cup thinking, ‘This is going to be a huge World Cup (for him),’” said midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “He got two goals before we took off, so we’re extremely bummed for him and for the team. But we bring 23 players and so this is just the chance for somebody to step up and hopefully the injury is not too bad and we can see Jozy later in the tournament.”
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will now have to carefully weigh his options for the match at Arena Amazonia. Klinsmann could elect to replace Altidore with one of Aron Johannsson or Chris Wondolowski. Johannsson was the player Klinsmann turned to when Altidore picked up the non-contact injury in the 21st minute against Ghana.
“I think they just want to try to help the team, offensively and defensively” said right back Fabian Johnson. “I think they’re both great strikers. I don’t know who’s going to play, so I think they’re just trying to do their best.”
Regardless of who starts in Altidore’s place, there will be a chance on Sunday for another player to step up and prove his worth.
Think we see Altidore later in the tournament? Who would you start Sunday? Should Klinsmann stick with the same formation, or shake things up?
Share your thoughts below.