Jozy Altidore ruled out of USMNT, Portugal match


U.S. Soccer has finally revealed what so many had already anticipated; Jozy Altidore will be out of action when the USMNT take on Portugal this week.

The official announcement came via Twitter Thursday morning, along with a positive update on the health of both Matt Besler and Clint Dempsey, who will be available for the fixture.

Altidore pulled up lame early in the team’s encounter against Ghana, clutching at his left hamstring. He has not been ruled out of the tournament by Jurgen Klinsmann or U.S. Soccer, but the prospects of a return certainly do not look good.

The timing could not be worse in a week that has bestowed nothing but good tidings for the USMNT. The U.S. victory over Ghana has the team second in the Group of Death behind Germany. Portugal, meanwhile, is at the bottom of the pack after a 4-0 drubbing against the table leaders to open the World Cup. As if the -4 differential wasn’t enough of a gift for the U.S., the Portuguese are limping into this encounter with defender Fabio Coentrao injured and out of the tournament, defender Pepe serving a red card, forward Hugo Almeida nursing a hamstring strain and keeper Rui Patricio suffering a strain to his thigh.

Klinsmann will have to dig deep to find the kind of holding presence up top that helps complete his system. One likely scenario would be to introduce Chris Wondolowski to the lineup, keeping Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman in the middle and deploying Jermaine Jones to once again take the wing with his eyes set on Cristiano Ronaldo. Another option, of course, is the return of a 4-2-3-1, with Bedoya and Graham Zusi on the wings and Bradley in the center playing feeder to captain Clint Dempsey.

There is no like-for-like swap at forward for Klinsmann to choose from. Altidore’s absence will fundamentally change the U.S. offense, and it will be up to Klinsmann to find a way to keep them competitive without their frontline leader.

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