[BRAZIL 2014]While he had yet to receive the results of the MRI on Jozy Altidore's injured hamstring, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann remained hopeful his star forward could return before the end of the World Cup. But with or without Altidore, Klinsmann had everyone focused on the next opponent, Portugal, refusing to let his players revel in their dramatic win over Ghana.
“With Jozy, we’ve got to see now how he reacts the next couple of days with his hamstring,” Klinsmann told reporters after the USA's return to its Sao Paulo base camp on Tuesday following the 2-1 win over Ghana. “We are full of hope that he comes back still in this tournament. That’s what we’re going to work on every day. The medical staff is doing a tremendous job for weeks, so we still have to hope that Jozy will be back. How quickly? That is down to his healing process.”
All three subs Klinsmann made on Monday night partly related to injuries. Altidore went off midway through the first half after pulling up on a run down the left wing. Matt Besler came off at the half with tightness in his hamstring. Alejandro Bedoya (hip pointer) came off for Graham Zusi. Then there was Clint Dempsey, who played for almost the last hour with a broken nose.
"He barely could breathe," Klinsmann said of Dempsey. "He struggled with that, but once it’s broken it’s broken. It will take time to heal completely, but unfortunately, it’s part of our game. He’s going to be all right.”
Only Altidore will likely miss the game in Manaus against Portugal, the sole focus of Klinsmann, his staff and players from now until Sunday night.
Klinsmann said it was easy for players and coaches to caught up in the emotion of a big win, but he said the message was clear: "Stay on the ground, stay focused, and the next game is more difficult than the one we just played."
The USA flew back from Natal to Sao Paulo in the middle of the night so everyone could immediately get back to work.
"The trick now is getting everyone focused on Portugal," he added. "On their situation, on our scouting work. We only talk now how we can beat this Portuguese team. This is our goal. We believe in it."