Jozy Altidore will miss Sunday’s Group G game against Portugal with a hamstring injury, U.S. soccer announced on Thursday.
The forward got injured in the 23rd minute against Ghana and had to come out of the game.
The team has not ruled him out for the entire tournament.
It’s a big deal.
As we saw against Ghana, the U.S. struggles to relieve pressure without Altidore. While he has been in bad form for Sunderland, he’s still a big, athletic forward who can hold up the ball and keep possession against smaller defenders. The U.S. can fire long balls in Altidore’s direction and expect him to retain possession so the team can get forward. There’s no other player on the U.S. roster who has that type of hold-up play, including Aron Johannsson — the promising Iceland-American striker who was largely ineffective after coming on for Altidore against Ghana.
We could see Johannsson step into Altidore’s role again. Or we could see Klinsmann tweak the shape of the team a bit and play an extra attacking midfielder like Mix Diskerud, with Clint Dempsey alone up top. Either way, the U.S. is not going to be able replicate the things Altidore does on the field.
A draw could go a long way toward qualifying the U.S. for the knockout rounds. Portugal, which has injury issues of its own, needs a win.
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