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U.S. players confident in Altidore's possible replacements
by Paul Kennedy, June 19th, 2014 4:11PM
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TAGS:  clint dempsey, jozy altidore, men's national team, world cup 2014


[BRAZIL 2014] The USA will be without Jozy Altidore for Sunday's World Cup match against Portugal in Manaus. U.S. Soccer confirmed on Thursday morning the striker will be absent but did not reveal the degree of the hamstring strain he suffered in the first half of Monday's game against Ghana. U.S. players expressed confidence, though, in the abilities of Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski, the two candidates to replace Altidore, one of four players who had started every game at the last two World Cups for the USA.

USA-Portugal Countdown:
Klinsmann's three attacking options against Portugal

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann remained hopeful Altidore can return for the end of the World Cup. The USA's final group match is June 26 against Germany in Recife. If it advances, it will play June 30 in Porto Alegre (as the Group G winner against the second-place team in Group H) or July 1 in Salvador (as the Group G runner-up against the Group H winner).

The likely replacement for Altidore is Aron Johannsson or Chris Wondolowski, who between them have played only 315 minutes with Clint Dempsey, who should start against Portugal despite his broken nose. The partnerships have produced one goal -- Wondo's goal in the 2-2 tie with Mexico in April.

Dempsey and Wondolowski:
45 USA-Spain, 0-4 (2011)
26 USA-Canada, 2-0 (2011)
13 USA-Panama
, 1-2 (2011)
63 USA-Guadeloupe
, 1-0 (2011)
11 USA-Canada, 0-0 (2012)
62 USA-Mexico, 2-2, 1 Wondolowski goal (2014)
Total: 6 games, 220 minutes, 1 goal.

Dempsey and Johannsson:
27 USA-Ukraine, 0-2 (2014)
68 USA-Ghana, 2-1 (2014)
Total: 2 games, 95 minutes.

Their teammates expressed confidence the abilities of both candidates to replace Altidore, one of four players who had started every game at the last two World Cups for the USA.

"I think we have guys who can fill in that spot," said Graham Zusi, who came off the bench Monday night to assist on John Brooks' winning goal.

Jermaine Jones said both players have strengths.

“Wondo is more a finisher in the box,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Aron is more the guy who’s good with ball and does one against one better.”

Kyle Beckerman is confident in the goalscoring abilities of both players. “He can score when you think there’s no chance and then next thing you know he scores," he said of Wondo. As for Johannsson, "He’s got this kind of attitude about scoring that he just kind of does it and he feels like he has to do that."

BESLER UPDATE. Matt Besler (tightness in his hamstring), also injured in the Ghana match, will be available Sunday.

-- Portugal will be without three players who started against Germany. Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao are injured, while Pepe is suspended.

  1. Mark Hardt
    commented on: June 19, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.
    I would start with Johannssen and sub in wondo at 65. Let them share the duties.
  1. Mark Konty
    commented on: June 19, 2014 at 6:58 p.m.
    I would reverse that Mark, because Wondo is a more capable hold-up player than AJ and the US will need that. Wondo is not a traditional #9, he's not a target, but he is a high energy nuisance forward that is very good at winning balls and finding teammates before he makes his stealth runs into the box.
  1. Mark Hardt
    commented on: June 19, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.
    Either way would be fine. Funny Jones commented. He is the key to the game. Since we only need a draw a 0-0 game would be just fine. Primary responsibility to defend a less than 100% Ronaldo will fall to Jermaine Jones. Will he defend tough and not do something stupid like Pepe to get a red or yellow card? Or come in with is cleats? He needs to dog Ronaldo and frustrate him him not head but him.
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: June 19, 2014 at 7:34 p.m.
    I would definitely put Wondo in there for this match! At 31 ish, this may be his best chance at ever contributing in a meaningful WC match, and I believe he will show that urgency from the starting kick! He also did well with Dempsey vs. mexico, and runs the channels better than Bacon for Dempsey's deft touch and vision!! For a pure late strike if needed, bring Aron on.
  1. charles davenport
    commented on: June 19, 2014 at 10:18 p.m.
    First, defend Ronaldo; Second, Wondo and Dempsey and try for an early spirit killing goal.
  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: June 19, 2014 at 11:32 p.m.
    If your worried about Jones on Ronaldo... here is a left field idea. Why not put Jones up in Josies position as a hold up player. He does that really well and he was a forward before. In the past people have been critical of him not being defensive minded. He made me a fan that last game.

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