Klinsmann tight-lipped over Altidore’s potential role vs. Belgium

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Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

SALVADOR, Brazil — Jozy Altidore might be “ready and available”, but what that exactly means in terms of his role for Tuesday is unknown.

U.S. Soccer announced on Monday afternoon via its social networks that Altidore was healthy enough to partake in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Round of 16 match vs. Belgium, but U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann remained tight-lipped about the amount of minutes the forward can play after an injury layoff at an ensuing press conference at Arena Fonte Nova.

“Well, we don’t know how much because we have to see how things going but we will,” said Klinsmann. “This is what we want, this is what we hoped for, this is what the medical staff has been working since the injury on him and they’ve done a tremendous job. They worked day and night with Jozy, so just having him with us is huge. How many minutes? We’ll see that during the game.”

The 24-year-old Altidore has been out of commission since sustaining a left hamstring strain in the 21st minute of the Americans’ Group G opener vs. Ghana on June 16. He was seen jogging with a trainer during the first 15 minutes of two separate training sessions that were open to media over the weekend, but it is unknown if he has done any work with the ball or trained with his teammates.

Klinsmann – who has remained optimistic throughout the World Cup that his first-choice striker would return at some point – did not provide any clarity on those details when asked how much time Altidore has had in full training.

“Now, difficult to say (with) Jozy – in the two or three days he’s been with the team – how much work is in his legs,” said Klinsmann. “There’s a lot of individual stuff going on, with the physios also in the gym – we have our own gym in Sao Paulo – and they worked day and night on Jozy. But it’s now difficult to say how many minutes.”

While Klinsmann may have tried to dance around questions about Altidore’s potential role, the manager may have offered a hint that the forward was not starting when talking about the U.S. attack.

Klinsmann mentioned that captain Clint Dempsey needs to be fed balls in the penalty area in order to create more scoring opportunities. Dempsey has been the player to fill Altidore’s role up top in the Americans’ group stage matches against Portugal and Germany.

“Go forward and attack them and you create chances and get (Dempsey) some balls in the box because you give him two and he makes one,” said Klinsmann before pausing and then adding onto his statement with a smile. “At least.”

That could have been Klinsmann accidentally revealing his hand or trying to tactically deliver a smokescreen message.

Either way, Altidore will be in uniform on Tuesday. It is just unknown right now if he will start or come off the bench.

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97 Responses to Klinsmann tight-lipped over Altidore’s potential role vs. Belgium

  1. Daniel M says:

    I think Altidore starts and goes 60 in this game, depending upon the score our sub could either be Wondo or Bedoya.

    • kmac014 says:

      I personally think he won’t start, but we will see

    • Luke says:

      I don’t think he starts. I just don’t think JK will start him if he only thinks he can’t get full 90. What if we have a repeat of the Ghana game and several players get injured or muscle strains. More likely he brings Jozy on sometime in the 2nd half.

      • Dave says:

        You can’t risk having to sub a sub. Either he starts or he doesn’t play.

        • froboy says:

          Bigger risk to start him and have him pull up after ten minutes. If you are losing in the second half and need a goal you take that risk.

          • Fair Observer says:

            precisely. there’s more risk in starting a player coming off injury (Diego Costa for Atletico Madrid) than there is subbing him on in the 65′ or so. Jozy will only come on in the second half if we’re still tied or losing. If we’re winning by the 65′ he wont play.

            • QuakerOtis says:

              You’re overlooking the fact that starting him costs only 1 sub, while bringing him off the bench may cost 2 in a game that could go 120+. The smart move is either: 1. he starts because he is fit for 45-60 minutes of play, or 2. he doesn’t play. I think he doesn’t play.

              • sam says:

                Exactly. You absolutely can’t use him as a sub.

              • foooo says:

                If Jozy sees the field at all, it will only be as a sub.

              • QuakerOtis says:

                So you agree that he doesn’t see the field? Or are you willing to risk using two subs and/or going down to 10 men on him?

              • Big Red says:

                If we are losing with ten minutes left, I would sub him in. By then, I wouldn’t care if he got hurt right away because we’d lose.

              • wandmdave says:

                these statements seem silly to me. JK and the physios know whether Altidore can go 60, 30, or 0 and he’ll start, sub in, or ride the pine accordingly.

                Personally I think its all a smoke screen to give Belgium something else to think about and he’ll sit on the bench all game.

              • Lil'Zeke says:

                Starting him costs one sub and one starter. How do you want to allocate your 14 caps?

        • Arotolo says:

          I would like to think if we are up a goal or two, that we bring him on and see what we get. If he pulls up and has to be taken off then so be it. But I don’t think he starts and is a 80th min sub if we are down a goal .

          • sam says:

            You can’t use him as a sub. If you start him and have to sub him off, okay. If you bring him off the bench and then have to replace him, you’ve used up two of your three substitutions right there.

        • Vik says:

          I think he doesn’t play and if he does it would be a very late sub. Maybe a came of 10 minutes or less. If they are more than a little concerned that he will get re-injured with a run out like that, then he should not be listed as active.

      • Donovan's Ghost says:

        No way does he sub him in and then has to blow another sub if he pulls up lame after 10 minutes. Like Coby Jones said Klinsmann’s real challenge was choosing the best 16-23 players (excluding the two goalies) and he should be judged on how these players contribute as the team progresses in the cup. One could argue that this team is underperforming after watching Costa Rica’s play and how Algeria gave Germany all it could handle. Nothing less than a win will be good enough tomorrow.

        • 1st Time Caller says:

          Thank you! “One could say…” and I HAVE been saying that out loud to myself in my mother’s basement for days but no one’s listening to me… But I digress… We have underperformed. It’s strange because we should be the underdogs going into this game by all accounts, and yet there exists this palpable air of brashness and entitlement I am sensing and what that amounts to (if the players feel this way too) is this game being a banana skin… The boys better come out hard, and frankly I am sick of them “respecting their opponents.” We respected Portugal FAR too much and we surely respected Germany enough in the early goings.

    • Shark says:

      Not a chance…..if he goes down early as was mentioned we have to sub him right away…..or sub a sub as was mentioned….

      • Curt Mueller says:

        Too big of a risk, considering Belgium has injured players they may have to sub people in for. Let Belgium do it, and keep your subs until you know exactly what you need.

    • Luke says:

      2 of the 5 round of 16 games have gone to extra time and kicks from the mark. Hold onto to your subs for as long as possible.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Dan W.
      would be great to have Jozy, available and truly fit.
      However he would probably be a better sub than starter at this point,
      but who knows?.

  2. Landon Klinsmann says:

    He comes on at 60 if we need a goal, 80 if we’re ahead.

    • Luke says:

      If we are ahead no need to risk him. Save him for the next game. Tied, it would be a gamble to play him. If we go into extra time, if he comes on in the 70th, he could potentially have to play 60 mins with injury time. I would say he only plays if we are down and we need a goal to stay alive.

      • Landon Klinsmann says:

        If we plan on using him at all against Argentina then he will see at least 10 v. Belgium. He needs to get back into it. Hammies take a while to heal well regardless and there is no reason to believe it will be any better this weekend, compared with tomorrow, from a medical standpoint. It will be only partly healed and he will not be 100 percent or safe from aggravation of injury, no matter what.

        If only we put ourselves in a position to play winner of Sui v. Argentina!

      • Patrick2 says:

        “If we are ahead no need to risk him”…well, Sunderland late in the season would bring him in even when he was out of favor because he can hold up the ball. If he takes it down to the corner flag he is also a pain to disposes. He is also so strong that defenders really have to put an effort into defending him…causing fouls, and eating at the clock.

  3. Shimmzy says:

    bad news for Team USA

  4. derek gores says:

    I think he starts. So as not to sub a sub if he came in late and got injured again.

  5. TheFrenchOne says:

    you have to start him. if he gets injured 10 minutes into the game, then at least you avoid a situation of having to sub for a sub (ie., if he came in at the 60th minute and re-aggravated his injury 10 minutes later). At the very least, he can’t be your last sub.

  6. H-Town says:

    Ghana lineup… No changes.

    • Neil says:

      I agree. If you need a goal in the last 15 minutes then bring him on.

      • Mason says:

        How do you intend to bring Altidore on if he’s already starting like he was vs GHA?

        • scweeb says:

          You do the ghana line up but you keep duece as single striker and drop bradley a little and put mix in front of him.

  7. nick says:

    doesnt start, most likely a sub.

    cant afford to have him start, go off INJ and have to use a sub 20 minutes into the game (ala costa in the UCF)

    • K2 says:

      But, as many have already stated, using that logic, we bring him on, and have to sub him off at 80 minutes. IMO, that’s far more disastrous. Either start him or dont use him at all (or use him down a goal in the 85th minute, but that would just piss us all off)

      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        Yes, but what others are missing is his physical condition. I honestly can’t see how he is ready to play only 2 weeks after pulling up like that. Ask anyone who has had that injury and they will tell you that is an incredibly fast recovery to full action.
        If he is ready to go (assuming this isn’t a smokescreen) his hamstring will not be 100% and probably can’t hold up for a full game. Assuming we will be able to sub him in the 60th or whatever and its as simple as that is also a huge risk. It completely disregards the possibility of other injuries, yellow/red cards and just plain bad performance substitutions. Obviously I don’t have all the info on Jozy’s condition but cannot see him starting under any circumstance.

        • Mason says:

          What most of “the others*” are saying is that he must either start or won’t play. Even a fit Jozy would probably be subbed off in the second half.

          *People who say you can’t use him as a sub.

          • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

            Personally, I can’t see him coming on for more than 10-15 if we are desperate a goal. Even then it is a big risk. My point was that starting him his a bigger risk because 1) he probably can’t make it 90 mins 2) we have no idea how the game will go 3) he hasn’t played for a few weeks. How sharp would he be?. This is a change we would 99% have to make. If he comes on late, there is a significantly better chance he can make it to the end. If Klinsmann wants to take a gamble at the end it’d be hard to criticize. Like I said, I’m not privy to the information required to make the decision, but starting him is out of the question for me.

            • Paul says:

              He’s not exactly the player you want to bring on for a goal. He’s a player to bring on when you want to hold the ball high.

              If we need a goal, look at who has gotten late goals – Diskerud.

              • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

                It certainly depends on how the game is going and what Klinsmann is trying to achieve tactically with his sub, but, like you said, Diskerud has shown to be a good option.

  8. Ali Dia says:

    I think he is far more effectively deployed as a starter, but I really have no idea. For all we know, JK has no intention of playing him at all, and Jozy is actually very injured, nowhere near playable, and JK is throwing that out there to see if he can throw a minor wrench in Belgium’s preparations and at least get some small value from an unfortunate situation.

    Having said that, I am dying to see him back in the attack. Dying. Everything we saw in the buildup games was so encouraging, and in my observation (and others’) his absence is having some noticeable follow-on impact on Bradley’s effectiveness. We shall see (I hope)

    Gonna be a another special day. I’m pumped.

  9. argh says:

    play him as a late sub in the 70th min if we’re losing. Start Iceman with Dempsey.

    also start Yedlin tomorrow.

    have Diskerud, Wondo and Jozy as subs.

    • bb says:

      AJ & Yedlin will do you no good as starters against Belgium

      • SingularityCup says:

        Why is that exactly?

        • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

          I would agree with the comment, actually. AJ is not there yet. The things we credibly believe him to be good at (taking on people one-on-one, shooting in space, linking up in a 4-4-2) are just not likely to be things we see at this point. He has loads of talent and potential, but at his age and the clubs he has played at, he has never been asked play as a sole target man against world class opposition. Or drop deep into midfield as for long stretches to win the ball. On the evidence of the Ghana game, it’s probably unreasonable to expect him to excel here. Best to leave him to the job we brought him along to do– come in and help chase a goal around 70 mins if we should need one, or come in for a first-choice attacker should they become injured or excessivly fatigued. Or, if necessary and possible, to take a penalty (he would amost certainly be among our best 5 here… another case for keeping him as a late sub).

          Yedlin is a different case. He was brought in as a full-back, in theory, but I think JK has been right not to risk him as a last line of defense, and move him into a MF position. I still don’t know that I trust his judgment enough yet to have him take over for the mores experienced Zusi/Bedoya as a starter. Frankly, I think he’s excellent as an early sub. Really new challenge for any defense who thought they had us under control.

          I like them both. Just not as starters. But if they start, I do believe both have the talent to cause problems. I won’t be upset if both play big roles. They will almost certainly be be doing it at the next cycle…. nothing wrong with getting an early jump if that’s the decision.

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      Who is going to guard Yedlin’s spot if he comes to the front. None of the back-line really knows how to cover for any out of position players. They do that pretty well in Germany and France but this team barely knows its own position, not to speak of anyone else’s.

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      I presume Klinsmann is thinking that his strongest players are going to win and keep on winning without really giving the subs a role. Belgium didn’t do that and neither did any of the other teams in the quarter final so far. If he really thinks he has to use two people with broken noses and one with a hamstring injury, he is not likely to make it to the final four teams. He really needs to give some of the subs some playing time and give a rest to at least some of the better players so that they can last. If Klinsmann really thinks his chosen 11 are the only ones that can win, he will be sorry in the end.

  10. Shurls says:

    If he doesn’t start and is going to come in he needs to be the first or second sub and in no way shape of form the third. Would hate to finish the game with 10 because he pulls up lame!

  11. dan says:

    Dempsey does not cut it as a forward, we should be starting Wondo or Johansson up top and push Clint back into midfield and take place of worthless Zusi. Bradley has been worthless too but its Bradley, sadly.

    Wondo gets my vote

    • Jack says:

      Yes those 2 assist from Zusi are pretty worthless

      • john says:

        Not to mention the fact that those 2 goals Dempsey scored as a forward just don’t cut it.

    • BrianK says:

      Agreed. If Belgium are hurting in the back,…start Johansson or Wondo to run them silly. Push Clint out right in place of Zusi.

      Johansson
      Bedoya, Jones, Bradley, Dempsey
      Beasely, Besler, Gonzalez/Cameron, Johnson
      Howard

      Wondo and Zuzi off the bench if needed.

    • mouf says:

      I doubt we can afford to have Dempsey in front of Fabian Johnson, exposes that whole side and means Johnson has to stay home. That would be a really questionable move.

  12. Raymon says:

    He’s a sub. He cant possibly be in 90 minute form being injured for nearly 2 weeks! He has been “jogging” is all, so I see 20 minutes in him to “ease” him into the tournament. Super sub role I see. Sorry Julian, wait for another day.

    • Narfan says:

      Yeah if you think from a coaches perspective: if you start Jozy and other players get injured you possibly will need to have your striker go the full 90. This is why I think he doesn’t start but Jurgen has the option to use him later in the game

  13. MileHigh says:

    Starting XI
    Altidore – Dempsey

    Chandler – Jones – Bradley – Zusi

    Beasley – Besler – Gonzo/Cameron – Fabian

    My thought: By adding Chandler, your left side becomes interchangeable in attack (as either one could step in as left back when the other runs up the flank). Same philosophy as putting Yedlin in at right mid (although I think he’s better served as a 70+ min sub).

    If you have 2nd half lead, Beckerman subs for Altidore and resort back to 4-5-1.

    If you are playing from behind 2nd half, bring Mixx in for Chandler, slide Jones over to the left, with Bradley returning to holding midfield. Yedlin for Zusi.

    • BrianK says:

      With all do respect,…there is no way Klinsman is going to risk starting Altidore only to have him pull up lame and have to use an early sub. Klinsman’s decision comes down to Dempsey up top or Johansson or Wondo. Trouble is,…the midfield has been holding its own (debate Bradley all you want but JK is taking the bad with the good) and I wouldn’t wager JK wanting to fix something that aint broken.

      • MileHigh says:

        If Jozy sees the field at all, it will be as a starter. Yeah it would suck to have to sub him out 10-20 minutes in, but it would be catastrophic to have to sub him out at the 80th minute if he entered the game in the 70th minute.
        Would make me nervous starting Chandler. So the alternative would be have Fabian move into LM role and put Cameron at RB (Gonzo next to Besler).

        • Ali Dia says:

          I have to agree. I would also add that Jozy is not really a sub-type player in this setup. Jozy is a battering ram. He is the guy who works with Duece/MB/JJ to create chances in the organization and attacking setup that was developed in the run-up. At a bare minimum, I would think we want 45 mins (in which case he might be saved until the half).

          If we need to throw on a striker in the last 15-20 mins to chase a goal, this is what AJ and Wondo were brought in to do.

          From here out, we have to go for broke. If there is a serious chance of a career limiting re-injury, there is no way he should play at all (and as such I strongly doubt this is the assessment of the physicians in clearing him). But if he’s indeed good to go, I’d think we play our best strategy for as long as possible

    • BrianK says:

      Also,…why would you not start Beckerman??? Along with Jones and Howard, he has been one of our top performers.

      • Kelso says:

        If they go with 2 strikers, beckerman comes off.

        • Jovins says:

          Beckerman started the Ghana game, in which we played with two strikers.

          There’s no way Klinsmann is breaking up our midfield trio at this point.

  14. espada says:

    Doesn’t start, but this is a good way to screw with Belgium’s planning.

    • Ali Dia says:

      From a purely logical perspective,you are right. In fact, it’s hard to see why you would disclose this now if you had any plans of playing him at all. Surely you would prefer to leave them guessing about his health. And doing so wouldn’t hurt you if you advanced — JK could always just say that he did not feel Alidore was needed, and decided instead to give him a couple of extra days to be ready for the next round.

      But somehow I don’t buy my own argument here. I think it’s about confidence. And I think Jozy starts and goes for as long as he is effective and needed.

      Whatever. I am way too amped to talk logic any more.

      YANKS YANKS YANKS!

    • Paul says:

      That’s my thought, too. I’d be surprised if Altidore gets in at all. Only been two weeks.

  15. QuakerOtis says:

    Will be happy (so, so happy) to be proven wrong, but this is gamesmanship designed to force Wilmots to play an injured defender and/or plan on starting out the match cautiously.

    • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

      I love your combination of cynicism and subtle, undying hope. I now scan comments on Jozy updates looking for your take. Do you have a score prediction? Bet you see Belgium winning but can’t bear to put it in writing. :)

      • QuakerOtis says:

        Lol. I wouldn’t call it cynicism, just half-baked (by the beeeach!) conjecture.

        And I do dare:

        IF we score first, 3-1 US.

        IF they score first, 2-0 Belgium.

        And yes, that strongly implies that Jozy should start if at all capable of 45. I just don’t think he is.

  16. tga says:

    Jozi doesnt play a second. all smoke and mirrors to mess with Belgium…

    If USA stay alive…we mite see him later…

  17. MiamiAl says:

    Start him! To quote Elvis Presley- Its now or never!

  18. bakunin says:

    Tomorrow you will see the logic behind Klinsi’s player selections.
    The starting line up will be re-tooled to better engage in the knock-out portion of the competition.
    Going to be about SPEED tomorrow.
    Watching the Germans looking worried right now.
    Algeria wants blood for 1982 shenanigans with Oosterreich.
    Go Algeria!

    • Mason says:

      “Watching” via various liveblogs… It seems Germany is a little tired. Maybe they should have taken it easier in their last match?

  19. BeardedSoccer says:

    You can’t sub him in at 60 mins with the risk the game goes 120 mins. I doubt he will have a role. because playing him make you have to keep a sub in your back pocket.

  20. Raymon says:

    So far, all the winners of G16 are the Group Winners in their groups (pending Germany today). Argentina and Belgium :-( are the remaining group winners.

    • Jack says:

      They’ve all been so close though. 2 have gone to PKs, another to extra time, Mexico was in front until the 88th minute.

  21. Mikey K says:

    This has me super nervous. Please god let us be ready!

  22. deno says:

    Look at that Jones USA knee tattoo. JUST LOOK AT IT.

  23. deno says:

    JOZY HAS RETURNED TO FULL SPEED TRAINING AND HE LOOKS GOOD!

    LEAKED VIDEO: link to i.imgur.com

  24. Dennis says:

    Jozy starts or plays less than 10 minutes as a sub. Too risky to use him unless the medical staff say he is 100% and can start, in that case he could start or be subbed in at 60 minutes or later.

    On an unrelated topic, I am in China and saw MB was the one player they chose to show in an interview on TV today (but except for his first 3 words the rest was the Chinese translation). Was the interview on US TV and what did he say?

  25. Paul Terry says:

    ALERT ALERT ALERT

    This just in: Altidore took a crap after suffering from diarrhea for the last two days. Klinsmann and Herzog were present and stated it was a solid one.

  26. Dennis says:

    If Altidore starts, it is most likely with Dempsey (duh!) and Beckerman, Bradley, Jones and Bedoya as midfielders (Zusi has a shot in place of Bedoya). Not sure who I think starts at CB, Besler and either Gonzo or Cameron. Beasley and FJ seem shoe-ins as the fullbacks.

  27. Doug says:

    Don’t think he plays at all. USA can beat Belgium without him. Save him for Argentina should we advance. Probably just a ploy to keep Belgium on there toes.

  28. Joamiq says:

    Reporters down there have said they’d be surprised if he plays more than 10 minutes, if at all.

  29. Jack says:

    Jozy often wears his emotions on his sleeve and he’s been pretty happy recently. For some reason I get the feeling he will start. How long he last, who knows.

  30. Birgit Calhoun says:

    I completely disagree. Altidore should not play. It’s too soon after his injury. He may feel fine now. But in real competition the injury will manifest itself again. I also believe that Belgium would play circles around Altidore. They know how he played at the BPL. I do believe the USMNT can win against Belgium if they use two forwards like in the game against Korea.