U.S. face attacking issues ahead of Portugal game

Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:51pm EDT
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By Michael Kahn

NATAL Brazil (Reuters) - Hampered by a depleted strike force, the United States are likely to choose between a young Icelandic import or a veteran super-sub to lead the line in place of the injured Jozy Altidore for their World Cup match against Portugal.

U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann lacks someone in the squad able to muscle past defenders and create space and opportunities for others like the burly Altidore, whose hamstring injury has probably ruled him out of the rest of the tournament.

After dispatching Ghana 2-1 in a dramatic Group G opener, the United States know victory against the Portuguese on Sunday should put them through to the last 16 for the fourth time in the last seven tournaments.

But without the striker who has long been a key cog in the U.S. attack, the Americans are left with two untested players to partner captain Clint Dempsey, who is nursing a broken nose and may be forced to play with a protective mask.

“It wasn’t easy to swallow the first pill with Jozy coming off the field," Klinsmann said after the Ghana match. "He is very, very important to us."

Altidore's injury and the paucity of proven replacements have also revived questions over Klinsmann's decision to leave Landon Donovan and other experienced players at home.

Aside from leaving all-time national team scoring leader Donovan out of the squad, Klinsmann omitted Terrence Boyd, a mobile, physical player who can play as a target man and would have been more of a straight swap for Altidore.

Klinsmann is now likely to choose between Aron Johannsson, who made little impact when he came on against Ghana, and Chris Wondolowski, a 31-year-old Major League Soccer veteran.   Continued...

U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann (L) celebrates their win against Ghana after their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder