Jozy Altidore, the US striker who injured his hamstring against Ghana Monday, will not play against Portugal Sunday, but the team is hopeful he will be able to play later in the World Cup.
Altidore’s loss is a significant one for the US, who in recent years have had a history of struggling to score goals. Altidore is the team’s best target up top, and it is unclear how the team will replace him. Will they simply replace Altidore with Aron Johannsson like they did against Ghana? Or will they consider forward Chris Wondolowski instead? Yes, it’s too bad Landon Donovan isn’t an attacking goal-scoring option.
Another option – play Dempsey as a lone striker, and add a midfielder to help retain possession and generate some offense, two major issues against Ghana.
They’ll have plenty of options if they go that route – it could be promising 19-year old Julian Green (he’s very, very raw), super sub Graham Zusi (who had the assist on the game-winning goal against Ghana) or even Mix Diskerud.
US coach Jurgen Klinsman made all the right moves in the opener – tossing 21-year old John Brooks in to replace injured Matt Belser paid off at both ends, with Brooks scoring the game-winner – and his decisions ahead of Portugal will be heavily scrutinized. A victory vaults the US into the Round of 16; a tie keeps them in the mix to advance, and let’s not think about what would happen with a loss, OK?