Portugal defender Fabio Coentrão will miss the remainder of the World Cup with a groin injury.
He went down in the 65th minute of Monday’s 4-0 loss to Germany, and had to be substituted.
The U.S. will face a depleted Portugal squad in their Group G game on Sunday in Manaus.
In addition to Coentrão, starting center forward Hugo Almeida went down injured midway through the first half and is out of the group stage. Pepe, the team’s erratic but talented center back, will miss the U.S. game after picking up a red card for heat-butting Thomas Müller.
In the end, Portugal will be without three first-choice players in a game in which it desperately needs three points.
The U.S. is similarly banged up. Jozy Altidore went down with a nasty hamstring injury in the 23rd minute against Ghana. Unless the injury isn’t at all what it looked like, he won’t be on the field on Sunday. Matt Besler, the team’s starting center back, also got hurt, although coach Jurgen Klinsmann said subbing him out was only precautionary.
U.S. captain Clint Dempsey broke his nose after taking a kick to the face against Ghana. He said after the game that he was having trouble breathing.
Sunday’s game could ultimately come down to depth and fitness. Portugal has players at top-level club teams that are perfectly capable of filling the shoes of Pepe, Coentrão, and Almeida. While the U.S. got major contributions from two substitutes — John Brooks and Graham Zusi — against Ghana, replacing Altidore looks like a problem without a solution.
The U.S. needs a draw from the game to remain favourites to advance from Group G. Even with the Portugal injuries, it’s a tough task.
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