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USMNT left battered and bruised following physical affair with Ghana

JozyAltidoreUSMNTInjured1-Ghana2014WorldCup (Getty)


NATAL, Brazil — Jozy Altidore and Matt Besler walked with noticeable limps. Clint Dempsey’s nose was so swollen you could have mistaken him for a light heavyweight boxer.

The U.S. Men’s National Team was battered and bruised.

The U.S. may have defeated Ghana to get its World Cup campaign off on the right foot, but the dramatic 2-1 win at Arena das Dunas was extremely physical and demanding and that took its visible toll on the Americans.

The biggest injury concern following the match was Jozy Altidore, who left the match in the 23rd minute after going down in a heap and being stretchered off. The image of Altidore with his hands covering his face as he was helplessly taken into the locker room hinted at a serious injury that could rule him out for the remainder of the tournament. But the U.S. insisted after their Group G opener that the severity of what is being termed as a left hamstring strain is not yet known and won’t be until the veteran striker undergoes medical exams back at the team’s homebase in Sao Paulo on Tuesday.

“I was crushed, because I knew right away that I couldn’t continue,” said Altidore. “That was probably the worst feeling.”

Besler was another player who had to deal with a hamstring issue. Besler felt tightness in his right leg and had to be replaced at halftime by John Brooks, who wound up scoring the winning goal on a dramatic late header.

Besler said after the match that he felt the problem arise when he slid in the 40th minute, and he fought through the pain with the hopes that he could loosen it up during the intermission. He couldn’t and had to be replaced.

“Personally, you have a major low at halftime when you find out that you’re not going to be able to go anymore,” Besler – whose recovery timetable is also unknown – told SBI. “Selfishly, you’re disappointed but for me it lasted 10 seconds. I had a job to do: to be a good teammate and I forgot about being selfish in that moment, came out, got my treament and supported the guys.”

Dempsey, meanwhile, said during his post-game press conference that he thinks he has a broken nose. The U.S. captain and author of the Americans’ first goal against Ghana received a kick in the face from John Boye late in the first half when trying to fight for an aerial ball, and was left bloodied and in need of assistance from the medical staff.

While it has yet to be determined if Dempsey’s nose is actually broken, Dempsey admitted the injury left him winded at times throughout his 90-minute performance.

“I had trouble breathing,” said Dempsey. “I was coughing up blood a little bit, but I felt fine and I could keep going. I did get a little bit tired out there, but hopefully I’ll be able to start breathing through my nose again and play next game.”

Even if Dempsey gives it a go against Portugal on Sunday, the U.S. depth is sure to be tested at Arena Amazonia. Altidore seems likely to miss the game and Besler is a question mark, which will leave head coach Jurgen Klinsmann weighing his options in the days leading up to the game.

The U.S. is confident, however, that it has players capable of filling in and getting the job done.

“We’ll get through it and the guys stepped up tonight,” said goalkeeper Tim Howard. “I thought Aron (Johannsson, who subbed on for Altidore) played well. He was confident and got the ball down and played well and obviously Brooksie was good. It’s good to know we’ve got guys in reserve who are ready.”


  1. I can understand the Jurgen love right now. The team won and everyone’s happy. But seriously they played poorly and were more than a little fortunate to win. And as for Jurgen, where was the improved technique and decision making he was supposed to bring to the team? They looked very much like Bradly or Arena coached teams only not as effective — lots of hustle, lots of team work, but very little soccer skill or sharp decision making.
    And now that the team has suffered injuries, don’t the decisions to leave the likes of Eddie Johnson, Clarence Goodson, and dare I say it, Landon Donovan seem more than a little foolish. Wouldn’t you really prefer having Eddie Johnson available off the bench than Julian Green, even if Green proves to be the next Pele in four years’ time?

    • Sounds to me like the player you really wanted on the team is a guy known as Foresight. I mean, if Jurgen had put Foresight on the roster, we would have seen all these injuries coming.

      • (Ignoring sarcasm) Effective coaches have to anticipate injuries. If your system is built around an athletic forward you need more than one on the roster, if one is available. So, yes, even a coach who can’t hold a job in “Football Manager” would understand that an Altidore understudy was a good idea. And his name is Eddie Johnson.
        On the other hand, it makes no sense to waste a roster spot on someone who has shown nothing in even friendlies, namely Julian Green.

      • I prefer the term “satire.”

        The question about who to bring to back up Jozy has to be asked in context of who you leave out.

        Suppose JK left out Aron so he could bring Boyd. Sounds great today, but what if Dempsey had been injured?

        Okay, leave out Mix—oh, but who backs up Bradley?

        Leave out Zusi—no, we already saw how important he is.

        We can go through the list and we’re left with two players to scrutinize: Green and Wondo. And in their place, three replacements to consider: EJ, Donovan, and Boyd. (Yes, there are more available, but these seem the most reasonable.)

        EJ wasn’t even invited to camp. JK has his reasons and numerous fans have listed theirs. We could argue about his exclusion, but hopefully still agree that he’s not “the obvious choice.” He may have been a year ago, but not a month ago.

        Boyd then. That’s who I would have taken instead of Wondo. No question. I don’t know why Wondo grabbed the spot ahead of Boyd. Did he work harder or play better in camp? I dunno. Was he seen as providing something more useful than Boyd; i.e., is it better to have a “discount Altidore” on the bench, so you can replace like for like, or to have a forward who brings something different? There are benefits to both. Boyd would allow the team to play the same formation—but hey, if that formation wasn’t working with Jozy in (i.e., if you weren’t subbing him due to injury), then why send in a lesser version of him? Okay, so bring Wondo who can throw something different at defenses—except, he plays so differently that the rest of the team will take time to adapt.

        As I said, I would have taken Boyd. But maybe in camp he turned out to be a whole lot lesser than Jozy; i.e., not a 20% discount, but a 75% clearance discount. In that case, his positives don’t add up to knock Wondo out of contention. As JK suggested, all of these decisions were very close.

        That leaves Green/Donovan. Yeah, I would have taken Donovan instead of Green. But then, I would have been basing my decision on only a few minutes of seeing Green play; i.e., about 1/100th what JK saw. (And yes, I disagree with you that he has “shown nothing” in those appearances.) I could try to argue against it, but I have nothing to go on. All I can say is, “Landon would be sooo good.” To which JK’s response has essentially been, “True, but Green is just a little bit better.”

        In sum: I can understand why fans would be surprised by some of the roster choices. But a rational mind will recognize that everyone brought positives and negatives with them to camp, so there are reasons to include and exclude everybody. With Foresight—or his half-brother, Hindsight—on the squad, those decisions become more obvious.

      • If you are going to be snarky, you have to do better than “everyone has positives and negatives” and/or “the coach had his reasons.” Taking Green does not contribute at all to improving the USA’s prospects in this WC. Frankly I would say the same about Wondo, because the USA is never going to be in a position in international play where a poacher will have any success. But regardless of one’s views of Wondo, eliminating Green opens up a spot that, had it been occupied by Johnson or even Boyd, the team would be in a better position than it is today. As I said you don’t have to be much more than a couch potato to figure that out.

  2. I want to talk about something else while the moment is still fresh: anatomy of that first goal by Dempsey.

    Remember the Germany friendly last year? Media were doubled over laughing at Klinsmann devoting 20 minutes of training to pressing the GK on distribution. In the actual fact, US pressure… er… “strongly encouraged” an own goal due to exactly that pressure. Clearly JK saw something in scouting the opponent that led him to think there was an opportunity to secure a cheap goal. Great coaching.

    OK, got that picture in mind?

    Netherlands v Ghana friendly. Kickoff: Ghana plays the ball straight back, then out to the right, then dinks it back and forth a couple of times on the right until Robben gets tired of standing around, runs up and strips the ball away resulting in a throw-in for Netherlands from 16 yards out. Could have been worse for Ghana.

    US v Ghana. US, as far as I can tell, wins the coin toss. Dempsey elects to give the kickoff to Ghana. Say what? Referee looks hard at him, asks twice to confirm. Ghana kicks off, plays the ball straight back then out to the right. US swarms the area in what surely looks on replay like a planned trap. Synchronized swimming doesn’t move multiple bodies in better coordination than the US filling the gaps and taking away passing options. Ghana coughs the ball up right away, throw-in to US. US counters quickly in what also looks suspiciously like a planned play, Dempsey does his thing, US up 1-0 at 32 seconds.

    Coincidence? Or JK pulling a coaching rabbit out of his hat again?

  3. While I understand the temptation to assign blame to Klinsy or the trainers for the injuries last night, I think it’s rather irrational. These guys are pro athletes. It’s doubtful that whatever training they did just in the US camp would change their muscle compositions or propensity for injury in such a dramatic way. Unless they were overworked in the few days leading up to the game (which I seriously doubt they were) I think we’re going to have to chalk this one up to bad luck, and maybe over-exertion due to adrenaline spikes. Injuries happen to every team, no one to blame.

    • Werent there like 4 injuries? And not freak accidents, but typical over worked hamstrings not lasting injuries? If it was an ACL, Achilles, or Patellar injury or something like Dempsey’s then I think you’d have a point, but when Bedoya, Besler, and Altidore all have similar injuries I think chalking it up to coincidence is a little kind.

    • The body can only handle so much, even for professional athletes. They had a hard camp after already having a full year. Remember, the MLS players still had the January camp in the off season. Klinnsman is pushing his team to the brink and humid conditions are terrible for the body when it has been overworked, even for the pros.

      • Yeah I guess it’s fair to be suspicious. I think it’s a fine line to walk; underworking them would have critics here complaining of a lack of fitness.

  4. Just out of curiosity – haven’t played since college and assume the rules might be very different than I remember them – if the rule is 50:50, cleats up and above the opponent’s waist, how was the kick that broke Dempsey’s nose not an illegally high kick?

  5. I know this team needed to be in top condition but it seems Klinnsman have have pushed them too hard with that many players getting hamstring/cramp problems compared to other teams. Unfortunately, Jozy is the only true hold up play type forward since Boyd wasn’t called in.

    • There are a lot of comments and things been written about that last night and this morning. It was a concern when he coached in Germany too. That the two days that seem to be mostly about fitness is too much. Last night certainly raised a few questions.

  6. Does anyone know the rules for bringing in a player that is not on the initial roster when an injury occurs to one of the roster players (ie Donovan)? Thought I heard on TV that the rosters are not set in stone when an injury occurs…could be mistaken. Thanks

    • Once the first WC game is played by a country the roster is frozen. Which is why you want to get your 23 man roster as correct as possible.

  7. This was a painful game to watch. Great perseverance for the win but the guys got battered and seemed slow, disconnected, and off their game. Jones was a beast. We never seemed to recover mentally after Altidore was injured and Bradley (my favorite US player) seemed tentative with several errant passes or missed chances. The Ghana goal happened because Fabian was forward, Cameron came over to mark and no one filled whole leaving space for Ghana attack and shot. THAT will need to be remedied against CR7.

  8. The good news is that the US did not play well for most of the game and still managed to win. You have to believe that they will play better against Portugal. Michael Bradley had one of the most ineffective games I have seen him play in ages. He will surely put in a stronger performance against Portugal. Altidore is done for this World Cup. Hamstring injuries take 3 – 4 weeks to fully heal. My guess is that Zusi and Brooks will start in place of Bedoya and Besler. I would love to see Dempsey and Diskerud up top because Mix can give the team some possession (which it badly lacked yesterday) and make that killer pass in the final third for Clint or an overlapping fullback.

  9. “We won one game, against what appears to be a weaker Ghana side than in years past”
    Disagree. I think they’re better than in years past. I also think it isn’t close.

  10. I really wonder about the average age here. We won one game, against what appears to be a weaker Ghana side than in years past, and you would think we just won the world cup. We won by bunkering in, something that Bob Bradley was always accused of, but for some reason no one calls Klinsmann “bunker Juergen”. With all the supposed emphasis by Klinsmann on fitness, the team didn’t seem very fit at all. I don’t believe all those pulled hamstring is just an accident. I’m afraid, like I was saying before the WC, Klinsmann pushed them way too hard (just like 2 years ago).

    Between about the 10th and 85th minute, we created absolutely nothing — there was no coherent play in midfield or on offense. No one seems to be able to hold the ball or pass accurately. One player we have capable of doing that was giving commentary on ESPN instead of being on the field. We can work hard, but is that going to be enough against Portugal and Germany? Bradley couldn’t pass the ball at all — worn out after the training camp and friendlies?

    • Uhh, wouldn’t say Bradley was worn out as he as making long tracking runs back to defend in the last ten minutes and he was one of the few I saw buzzing to the ball at the end. Go back and rewatch it. Now his passing was poor – no argument there. But consider that his top two targets, and the US’ top two threats were eliminated with Jozy’s hammy and Clint’s nose. Why don’t you give Bradley a break and realize he had little to work with going forward and was still defending his ass off. It’s a team game and he contributed where he could. I doubt very seriously that any of his teammates or the coaching staff are complaining.

      • they d*mn well should be. I saw at LEAST 5 passes go Bradleys way in the advanced midfield or just outside of the box that he let run past him to the other team, he was poor, his effort was poor, his defending was non-existent. Mix would have been exponentially better

      • His defending was non-existent? That is factually incorrect and the tape will prove it. And his effort was standard Bradley – running all game long. His passing was poor – I’ve granted that. But consider, the last time we saw Mix he was flubbing shots inside the penalty box and having a less than stellar performance. Additionally, with hamstrings straining all over the place, Klinsmann didn’t really have a sub to spare for removing Bradley. And if you are arguing that Mix should have started over Bradley, based on all past evidence, then I don’t believe you are capable of having a rational discussion on the topic. With Ghana’s central midfield pressing, and both Altidore out and Dempsey diminished, it is highly unlikely that anyone would have fared better.

      • I watched the game twice

        Also noticed he stopped running a few times. Might have scored on that corner where their goalie choked his punch attempt if bradley continued his back post run instead of pulling up when it looked like the goalie would get there.

        Worst game I’ve seen him play.

  11. You guys are all stuck on how they seemed to play compared to more recent games. The reality is under Arenas or Bradley we would of never won this game.

    Ghana has a tremendous midfield and they play a similar style to us physical and counterattacking, which is why we lost the last two games. Instead of trying to attack on the counter and then caught behind when we don’t get back he sat back and let them play their game. If you watched the game they had all that possession and only one real moment of danger and that was their goal. Aside from that their play was lackluster because they did not know how to really break open the defense.

    Also the loss of Altidore and Dempsey’s broken nose pretty much killed the attack for the day. No hold-up striker (sorry Johannsson) and Dempsey feeling a bit more gassed than usual meant Bradley had no outlet on the attack and it showed.

  12. That was a lucky win. So, clear your head from the hubris already. Any time a goal is scored from corner kick is pure luck. The only postive from this game was the collective defense work. Howard was horrible on the goal. He was scared of the shot so dove away. I also take the three points. Some times we play better, yet don’t win.

    • So the fact that you spend endless ours on set pieces, running specific plays in order to put specific players, with specific physical attributes and the ball into a specific spot in order to score…. and then do/repeat just that in a game situation. That is just pure luck.

      • LoL
        It’s amazing how the same teams or players repeatedly get lucky on set pieces, while others do not. Equally amazing how the lucky ones work hard at it and just so happen to be gifted with size, strength, leaping ability and the stones to stick their head in dangerous places.

  13. Some of you people are nuts. We will field the strongest team possible. A tie against Portugal is a minimum result. Personally, I think Portugal is very beatable. They did not look good against Germany and Mexico dominated them in the run up to the World Cup. They are not as physical as Ghana and they have at least one starter out with the red. It’s there for the taking.

    I was a little distressed at the lack of chances we generated in the Ghana game. We were not very deadly on attack. Jones was also leaving his man a lot and drifting. Left our left side very open. I thought Zusi played better than Bedoya. I bet JK wishes he had Donovan now

    • Very true – haven’t read the article but already know that Portugal is going to present a whole different set of problems, not too mention possessing one of the most prolific scorers in the world. So Ronaldo and Portugal had a very bad game against Germany; they’re not the first and I don’t think we can expect the same on Sunday.

    • @USAalltheway – great article link. Hopefully most who have made it this far down the page will give it it’s due read.

      As for the game. I offer 1 huge mea culpa: Jermaine Jones on that wide left flank is blazingingly brilliant. That defensive role that JK had him in (where becks is now soaring) was just incorrect. His ability to cover the field is incredible. Dude is a horse.

      Bradley ‘s bit – loved that he had his worst possible game last night. He will NOT look like that in our remaining games. Watch out for the Angry Eagle. He’s flying on Sunday.

      Lastly, just curious how injury subs work. If Jozy is out for the tournament, but we make it through to the knockout stage – does that mean we are able to bring in a Terrance Boyd once the round of 32 is over?

    • I don’t see anyone overly confident. I do see some enjoying a world cup victory. That is allowed, right? Just as you are entitled to your incessant doom and gloom, others are entitled to enjoy the World Cup. You do realize we were underdogs from the beginning… right? That no one outside the US gave us a chance to begin with? Soccer is a crazy game. Let’s watch the games and see how this plays out, yeah?

  14. One thing I have always noticed about Jozy is how rarely he gets injured. The only time I have seen him miss a game was the 2013 Gold Cup Final against Mexico.

    Apart from that, he is usually 100%. Along with at least 4 other players suffering similar problems, it makes you question JK’s fitness mentality. He just seems to be overworking them.

  15. It’s heartbreaking to hear Jozy is out.

    Now, the team is in major trouble. Without him playing number 9, what will JK do? The Iceman seemed way out of his league yesterday. Wondo is great but not Jozy. Who is the last option for striker? I can’t remember…

    I like the idea of a false 9 in Mix. Seems like the best option.

    I have a feeling next games is going to be ugly. The US CANNOT do what they did against Ghana. They have to be more proactive. You can’t absorb Portugal’s wings all night. They will score and mostly likely more than once.

    • How do we get runners in behind the defense if we play Mix as a false 9? The false 9 works when you’re Spain or Barca or Bayern and can dominate the ball in the final third and patiently probe; we’re going to need to attack with pace on the counter and get runners in the box.

      • You make great points.

        What would you suggest then? Who is that last striker on the sheet BTW? I can’t remember…

      • Um, besides Dempsey, Wondo and Iceman are all we have.

        I think Aron gets the start as he has the speed to trouble Portugal & if we don’t have a target forward, we need a speedster to stretch Portugal and strike on the counter.

      • I agree with this. It still has to be Aron. Wondo will give us at least as poor hold-up play as Johansson and much less pace on the break. Johansson, once he gets his feet beneath, also has the technical ability to combine well with Dempsey and Bradley–part of his struggles last night had to with Dempsey and Bradley playing so poorly.

        One possibility is playing Dempsey up top, with an extra left midfielder for defensive purposes–maybe Bedoya moving left and Zusi coming in on the right–and saving Johansson for the 70-minute mark.

    • Heartbreaking? In twenty minutes he had one decent holdup play and then missed an open shot on net. He wasn’t chasing hard.

      Comparatively, Dempsey had a goal in 30 seconds and AJ, though offensively anonymous, was out there with his lunchpail chasing people.

      • He better not have been chasing too hard 20 minutes into a game up one. Overpressing in the Brazilian heat is a recipe for disaster.

      • So, you are HAPPY he is out?

        Seriously, who needs enemies when there are fans like you.

        It IS heartbreaking. After his season and woes and how much he has given to get the team to the Cup, to go down like that is awful.

      • I tend to agree and have always questioned Jozy’s value. My point here though is that JK bet the farm on Jozy being there for every minute of every game. There was no real Plan B and now we find ourselves in need of one. Aron didnt see much of the ball but we need people that can get it to him. I thought Bradley was great but I dont think he can create quality chances

    • “Who is the last option for striker? I can’t remember…”

      Terrence Boyd? Eddie Johnson?
      That’s who you want as a target 9.

  16. AJ may fare better against Portugal, which is not as big or physical as Ghana. Ghana’s size made Altidore’s hold-up play so critical, and the lack of a true hold-up option when Altidore went down was critical. (And no, I am not beating up on JK.) My point is that Ghana presented particular problems that may not be factors in the Portugal game, so that AJ might play a bigger role than he did yesterday.

  17. Klinsmann and Berti will have the whole team lame by the time we play Germany. Ramos is doing the coaching and tactics, thank god we have that going for us.

  18. The field seem too hard and reason why so many injuries. Also, weather was an issue.

    Besler’s injury was a blessing, Besler didn’t look good since start, while a younger fresher Brooks gave the defense more life.

    • Besler looked good in the first half, not sure what game you were watching. With that said, Brooks had one shaky moment that could have resulted in danger but played obviously played well the rest of the way.

    • Besler was fine and I don’t recall Ghana picking up any similar injuries so I think it may have had something to do with the training. That’s a lot of hamstring injuries in one game – Jozy, Besler, Bedoya.

  19. I didn’t think that the game was all that physical, either. Sure, Dempsey got kicked in the nose, but that was more of an accident. Even Jermaine Jones shook hands once.

  20. Soft tissue injuries have high correlation to overtraining and accumulated fatigue. The Klinsmann training regime, along with that of numerous other high profile coaches, seems to have had tremendous consequences, with numerous players out during the run up to WC and the opening games. Can’t expect these guys to play full European season or even 4-5 weeks of MLS (plus their preseason camps) and then go all Bear Bryant on them for a month before the WC. Throw in tough weather conditions and the results are predictable. Sadly, what is also predictable is that things won’t change. National team coaches have so little time to prepare, but with the stakes so high they fall back on out working opponents in training camps.

  21. Ghana played a pretty dirty game. Lots of hard fouls. The play where Clint’s nose got broken was a joke. There was no way the leg or boot should have been that high. No card?

      • It was reckless and worthy of a direct free kick.
        But from the LOTG: the only cautionable offenses that might cover this are unsporting behaviour or persistent infringement. So no yellow card.
        OTOH, For a sending off the choices would be serious foul play or violent conduct.
        Paradoxically you could make an argument for the red card more easily than for a yellow.

    • I think there should have been a yellow. That leg had no business being that high. If you can’t control your jump(knowing you will make contact with someone else), its dangerous.

      • Yup. That makes two yellows Ghana should have received….

        …but I’m not complaining: let Ghana be full strength against Germany and Portugal!

      • Sulley Muntari should have gotten a yellow on the hard tackle on Jones that resulted in Muntari getting in Jones face. The tackle itself was reckless and from a bad angle and going through Jones with both feet and his whole body.

      • I agree that the king fu kick had no place in there, and it was only up to hurt the opponent. The guy already challenged for the ball with his head and his leg was used to propel him up, then he raised it up just to kick Dempsey. Should have been at least a yellow.

      • Haha what? We must be looking at two different plays. You think after jumping and in mid air he purposefully brought his leg up to hit Dempsey? Dude lost his balance after contact and the leg came up as he was coming down, it’s a natural response trying to regain his balance. Looks worse in slow motion, but in real time it didn’t look like anything reckless. Just because Dempsey got hurt on the play doesn’t mean it’s a foul or a card, jeeze.

      • His leg was already coming up before he lost his balance. Yellow cards aren’t always for doing every bit of a foul on purpose. The yellow would be a warning not to bring his leg up in the first place.

      • If he did mean to kick him in the face then hats off to him, it was a difficult kick to pull off.

        But yeah high kick, every time you bring your leg above your waste and make contact it’s a high kick, regardless of intent. If he meant to then it’s a red, to my eyes he should have got a yellow.

    • No, they’re not dirty. It’s just that every player on their team is bigger and stronger and more athletic than their American counterpart. And Ghana plays playground ball (no refs) with bodies flying everywhere, lots of pushing and shoving and body slamming. Now, we didn’t see them doing a lot of diving…or punching…or deliberately throwing elbows off-the ball. But when you play Ghana, you come away with a lot of bruises.

      I can actually see that benefiting us. I can see Germany coming out of the Ghana match wanting to rest a number of players and we play a quasi-B side where no-one wants to get hurt just before the knockout round. Doesn’t mean we qualify, only that the path to the elimination round is falling in to place for the USA.

  22. When Jozy got injured my first thought was the Landon commercial where he’s answering phones … But it’s too late

  23. I see Omar Gonzalez in for Cameron if he’s really injured, and next to Brooks vs Portugal.
    Zusi for Bedoya. AJ and Dempsey up top.
    It is what it is.

  24. Depth is going to be an issue for all of the teams, except possibly for few accustomed to playing in sauna-like conditions. If we thought the heat and humidity was bad last night’s, wait until we play in the middle of the jungle. I don’t think the US is going to be exempt from injuries due to the strain on the athletes in playing in these conditions. Here’s to hoping for at least a tie against Portugal, and then rest against a German team already costing to the second round.

  25. Where did all the Klinsmann haters go? And what about leaving Landon home? Hello?
    I’m naming my next child Jermaine Jones even if it’s a girl. That guy drives this bus. Run, run, run. And I’m sorry I ever doubted whether Clint had the fire anymore. That goal, that nose, and the fact he played the rest of the f****** game with it….If that doesn’t make the knuckleheads who wonder why we love football sit up and say hey, this is pretty damn amazing, I don’t know what will. Jurgen, you da man.

      • Either Boyd or Landon would have been a better sub than ArJo. He looked completely out of his league.

      • He wasn’t out of his league. Did you see his through ball to Bedoya in the box? Bedoya wasn’t even ready and got to it kind of late. It’s because the opponent we were playing and the way he was receiving the ball as a target man.

        Arjo is a technical player who needs the ball at his feet so he can work his magic with his technique, and make that shot or final pass. He’s not a power player like Altidore or Boyd.

        He is of course better choice than Wondo because he can create his own chances whereas Wondo has to depend on someone to create for him to finish.

      • He came in to be a target man, and in that role, he played poorly. I agree that Aron has more technical ability than Wondo, but if Klinsy wants to continue playing a “target man”, Wondo or even sliding Dempsey up would be a better choice than Aron.

      • Totally disagree I thought he looked great for what he had. There wasn’t a lot of forward movement the the middle 75% of that game and that was not ArJo’s fault.

      • Out of his league? No. Out of position trying to play as a target man against the likes of Ghana. Most definitely. I actually thought he was rather decent…. mostly, he had very few touches and no support / no where to go with the ball when he did.

      • Because the backup target men, EJ, Boyd, Alan Gordon, are not as good as Jozy . None of them would have been a good straight swap for Jozy.

        And also Jozy is not a classic target man. He’s more versatile than that.

        I’m sure the plan for Jozy getting hurt was to do something completely different

        But with Clint and Besler getting hurt JK had other things to worry about than just replacing Jozy.

        AJ and Wondo went over Boyd and EJ because they are better at what they do than Boyd and EJ are at what they do.

        Against Portugal Deuce should be there the whole time which will make it easier for whoever plays for Jozy

  26. Outside of Altidore, our F & MF are built for speed — Don’t see anyone who can jump in to a target forward position. So if you’re JK, could you take a backup defender and try to repurpose him into a target forward — gain possession an hold for 15-30 sec? Assuming he’s not starting for Besler — could Brooks do it?

    Not convinced it could work myself, just trying to get creative….

    • You think we can get a lineup with Aron and Klinsmann up front? I have a feeling Coach K can still get it done out there.

  27. Bedoya looked injuried too, Bedoya was great first half, and then seem to injuried his hip. Won’t be 100% vs Portugal. Anyway, Zusi could do damage with crosses and Wondo’s size could be a factor.

    Bradley looked terrible, so many horrible passes and lost the ball.

    • If anyone wants to see why Bradley was not a starter at Roma, just watch this game. His strong attributes are that is a hard-working 2 way player and gets into the right spot at the right time (good vision). He makes the occasional nice passes but he is not a play maker.
      When pressured, he gives the ball away too many times and forces a pass when holding possession should be the key. Anyone who expects him to be that play maker has no idea about his strong and weak points.

      • You are raving. He was not a starter because they had two INCREDIBLY good midfielders for whom he was the rotation man. In Serie A, he was damn tidy with the ball as a DM, and not used as an advanced CM–so you have pulled that opinion directly ex recto.

    • Was wondering why so few picked up on this. Gotta be careful to distinguish this stuff from basic fatigue. But I thought that if JK had a 4th sub Cameron would have been the guy to come out. I thought *both* calve & hamstring looked iffy.

      This can’t be a coincidence. The staff did not have these guys properly prepared.

  28. First, don’t know if this is true, but Klinsi has always emphasized physical training in his camps (with the German NT, with Bayern, and now the USNT). Over-training is a significant contributor to hamstring injuries and coming up lame.

    Second, I think we play for counters against Portugal. They have better technical ability. They prefer to counter but must get 3 points against us so they’ll be coming out attacking. We clearly don’t have a target man on the squad with Jozy out. Actually, a tactical variation I wouldn’t be surprised with–slide Jones even further into the middle (right now he’s playing a quasi left-mid/holding mid role) and start Brad Davis. I’m not a big fan of his, I don’t think he should be on the squad. But this is similar to the time that Bruce Arena brought Paul Bravo on the USNT for the Confed Cup in Mexico…he wanted a guy to play Mexico at altitude. Well, if we decide to play more defensively, Davis gives us a guy who is probably more acclimated to the Manaus heat and humidity (hello–Houston in summer anyone?) than any other player on the team. He gives us a good guy on corners and deadball situations. This may be the one match in the WC where starting Davis makes sense. And, to play a 5 man midfield means we’re playing with one striker and if he can go, then that’s Deuce.

    • Assuming Zusi is still in there as well, then a 4-5-1 might be a good idea. The question is can we score on the counter…

    • When you have multiple people pulling up lame, either they did not prepare for the climate and field conditions (Frisco?), or the fitness coach needs to be given the wrong directions to the next venue, which turn out to be the road back to the airport home. One is an accident. Several is poor planning.

      Just like I was amazed Beasley is out there sliding around on his cleats.

      • This

        I was very surprised by our apparent miscues in physical preparation. Obviously it’s not all about aerobic capacity and power.

      • I don’t disagree it COULD be blamed on training/preparation, but frankly, no one really has any idea. Almost none of these players are used to playing in a hot/humid environment, and this is the exact scenario where it’s easy to pull a hamstring. Calling for people’s heads over 2 hamstrings is a bit much, IMHO.

      • Two hammies plus a thigh/hip (Bedoya).

        They had weeks to prepare for hot and humid and could have done so by camp location. It’s 90 and humid across the south, and you can fly somewhere.

      • Come on man. You can’t really be playing this card. There is no way for the team to “prepare” to play maximum effort in a jungle (that’s maximum humidity).

        The English team had similar issues playing in those conditions. Why did these two teams suffer cramps and muscle injuries? Because they were running all over the field. If USMNT had kept possession better, they could have run less, and maybe not seen as many injuries.

        There’s simply no way to know this has anything to do with “over training.”

      • Stephen: I appreciate your desire to focus only on hard facts.

        In that spirit: wasn’t the humidity in Natal in the high 70s during the match? That’s not “maximum.”

        Also, Natal is on the coast, not in a jungle.

        Lastly: the USA has numerous cities blessed with high heat and staggering humidity.

      • I don’t know if they over or underworked them — I’m not making that call — but I used to play in 90-100 degree humid heat in Houston without clutching my hammies. I understand cramping due to the weather and dehydration but muscle pulls (as opposed to the muscle grabbing and letting go) suggest some sort of fitness issue.

      • The two hamstring injuries came in the first half, before fatigue should set in for professional footballers. There was also several weeks to prepare for the predictable conditions played in.

        In previous WCs, the US has been strong physically, and they were hot, yet not quite as humid.

        If you don’t see there being a problem you’re not weighing the evidence objectively.

      • Weighing the evidence objectively would require looking at injury data for other teams playing in the same environment for correlations and outliers. Since you have not done this, I’m not sure how you would know whether any evidence had been objectively observed, since you are not actually citing evidence, only observances.

  29. A tie against Portugal and a Ghanna loss to Germany and we are probably through, but damn Jozy. I really feel like we can lose any one player and still be ok except for Jozy.

      • Portugal’s 4-0 loss may well doom them. Even if they’re eliminated by then, I don’t see Ghana loosing big to Portugal. As long as the US can keep it close with Germany, 4 points should be enough.

      • You’re perhaps overlooking the potential of Germany to foul up our own tiebreak standing. I’d rather be in the US-Egypt position of needing to win and score against a less tough opponent than in the position of trying to stop a juggernaut to hold our position for a tiebreak.

        Added scenario: Ghana holds Germany to a tie, both teams have something to play for last game.

        I prefer we win, Germany wins, both teams lock advancement and then play a cagey, relaxed match for position. Portugal looked bad. I wouldn’t play close to the vest, we’ve beat them before.

  30. Altidore is done for the tourney. Would be surprised if Besler can go vs Portugal. Assuming they can get him some sort of protective mask, Dempsey will play. Bedoya is the one I have no idea about. He seemed to land funny & do something to his hip.

    I don’t where all this false 9 talk is coming from but the time for experimentation was the friendlies. Jurgen clearly finalized his formation vs Nigeria in Jacksonville. If Besler can’t go, Brooks starts.If Bedoya can’t go, Zusi starts.
    The interesting question is striker. Johanssen looked out of his depth. Will Jurgen go with Wondo or stick with Arjo? My guess is Johanssen.

    My lineup vs POR: Howard; F.Johnson, Cameron, Brooks, Beasley; Zusi, Bradley, Beckerman, J.Jones; ArJo, Dempsey.

    • Anyone who has watched Wondolowski play in MLS sees that he has to have a target man (like Gordon or Lenhart) next to him…Wondo simply is not a target player. Poacher–yes. Goalscorer–yes. Hard worker and good teammate–yes. But a guy good in the air, good with his back to goal–no. He’s on this team for practice and to come in the last 15 minutes when we’re down and want to put a poacher in a packed goal area. If he replaces anyone, it’s Deuce (and my first choice there would be either AJ or Mix actually).

      I have no illusions about AJ–he’s not a target player. But Ghana is a tough team to try and be a target forward against. We gave away height, speed, and muscle and nearly every position against them. They’re not dirty, they just play a rough-and-tumble playground “all in” style with legs and elbows whipping around. At times we looked like boys playing against men last night. Even EJ would have been challenged to hold up physically against that (and he has a lot of experience as a target man).

      • All true, but AJ just went 70 minutes in a physical battle. If he’s fit, then fine, start him. But I think Wondo could find some space against Portugal, even without a target guy. The main worry with Wondo is his tendency to kill the buildup, so yes, we would need to build through Deuce and (imo) Zusi against Portugal, hope FJ can get forward more frequ… ok never mind. Just Deuce and Zusi.

      • I have watched Wondo countless times, many of them in person, and I think you are selling him short. He is a very good header of the ball(really surprised you don’t see that), his first touch is probably the best of all our strikers (unless you include Clint), and he is a very underrated passer of the ball. He can provide a little hold up play (better than AJ, who i also like) and on a hot, humid day in Manaus I want Warriors–he is a warrior. What you lose with Wondo more than anything is pace…you can’t p,ay through balls and expect him to run on to them. But in the Ghana game, AJ also could get no separation from defenders. If we wanted pure hold up play we should have called in Comor Casey (jk). Short of that i will take Wondo of the current choices

      • This is expected and US learned from their previous experiences against Ghana in ’06 and ’10, you need big physical players to play against West African (Ghana, Nigeria, etc…) teams. This is why Brooks was put into the team and game.

        Playing against West Africans, you need size and speed if you are going to play defense against them, else you are going to get out muscled. Who got out muscled in 2010 (Demerit/Boca) on that Gyan extra time goal?

      • I know from first hand experience; used to play pick up during college against West African players who were all about individual skill and power, and you needed to be a quick thinker and make intelligent passes to beat their dribbling. You are not going to beat them at dribbling or faking moves when playing against these guys.

  31. That phrase “all but likely”, what does that mean? I think you wanted “all but certain” there, Mr. Panizo.

    I agree, Bedoya had a definite scary moment there in the second half–not sure what happened there. Jozy’s crisis I could put down to a sudden huge effort to chase down that long ball down the flank. What I’d like to understand is why these hamstring things came up so many times in this game when I’d understood that Klinsmann and the staff were plugging fitness, fitness, fitness. I realize that you can’t make yourself fit in a couple of weeks if you’re not essentially already there, but is it that the conditions were somehow affecting the players? Or was it a more physically demanding match than I could see from the outside?

    • Apparently if you over strengthen the muscles on the top of the thigh with out strengthening the hamstring muscles you can throw the leg muscles out of balance and this can lead to pulls.

      For it to happen to so many players (never seen anything like that before in any sport) and only on our side, it has to be something with the way we trained.

      • Could have something to do with the difference between flying 270 miles (Ghana, based in Maceio) and 1,400 miles (USA, based in Sao Paulo) before the match.

      • That’s the key point: It happened to several of our players, so it may well reflect some aspect of training.

      • Yes there’s something awry with the what the physios are doing. There’s no way so many of our guys come down with pulled muscles without there being a problem. My first thoughts were: The type of stretching they’re doing isn’t adequate, and/or they’re not getting proper electrolytes…..

    • What does this even mean? Were you there? Do you think they were watching “Happy Days” episodes the whole time? Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Are you angry that Klinsmann isn’t being fired? GOOD WORK!

      We got challenged by a very good team and we won beacuse we are tough, physically and mentally. We kept our concentration. We did not get beat up and have our milk money taken because we were less physical or smaller.

      Next time that happens to you, call us.

      Thanks. See you in 2022. Yup. Drink that down. That is the next time Klinsmann won’t be coach. The rest of us will be rooting for our team.

      • Wow boys; take it easy on Vince. He sounds a little like Alexi Lalas, but he has a point.

        JK was advertised as a fitness and possession coach. It could have easily been Bunker Bob or the Bruce as the manager of that team on the field last night.

        That being said, it was a gutty and great win, and probably the goal for both sides. The Ghana coach basically said the US took their chances, and Ghana missed theirs.

      • Who cares what was “advertised”? Anyone with a clue knew this is how it was going down. There are also differences between motivational speech and a game plan…

      • To all of you getting upset at Victor. You better not have complained about Bob Bradley or called for him to be fired. You are seeing Bradley ball again. It works, but it isn’t worth 5 million or whatever Jurgen got. We the US soccer observer are paying that salary.

      • Jesse D.

        You are seeing what you call “Bradley Ball” largely because Jozy getting hurt so early and Dempsey not being able to breathe quickly disrupted the offensive capability of this team.

        Maybe you don’t think all that money is worth it but consider this:

        Arena and Bradley playing “Bradley ball” could not beat Ghana in the World Cup.

        Is beating finally Ghana in the World Cup worth the 2.5 million that JK gets paid?

        Ask the USSF if that 2.5 M was money well spent.

      • That isn’t really true. Bruce and Bob got a chance at Ghana, and they failed. Jurgen won. Trust the coach at least until he proves us wrong.

        On talent we are the worst team in the group. Heart and balls were always going to be required to get out of this group. The fact we could not possess the ball and a few guys got hurt, shouldn’t take anything away from the result.

      • Bruce and Bob got results in the group stage as well. Don’t go making love to Jurgen just yet.

      • I don’t necessarily think that JK’s intentions were to park the bus to the degree that we did. I think it was a result of our inability to control the ball because of the early injuries, and the struggles that Michael Bradley had connecting passes through the mid. With any better degree of success, we all of a sudden start multiple and more effective counter attacks that would have also kept Ghana more honest. I have a hunch that there will be strategy meetings and training efforts to help us create better possession vs Portugal.

        I also believe that the lack of hydration killed us physically, especially with respect to the muscle injuries. I have to wonder if nearly a week of constant rain, may have psychologically led them to under hydration in prep for the game.

        I’m proud of the grit and determination that helped carry us through yesterday. Go America!

      • Could not agree more. Hopefully Jurgen makes the adjustments we will nee for portugal, gives them a rest, and no early injuries screw up our game plan and tactiocs so damn early again.

        Proud of the effort last night, and excited/anxious for what the Portugal game entails…

      • The team survived and Brooks had a moment he will never forget. It wasn’t a convincing win, but it was a win. Dempsey’s goal was a release of joy and enthusiasm, Brooks goal was a moment of pure relief.

        Without Jozy up top, we really lacked an outlet. I’ll take the win and continue to pray.

        Coaching has to take the responsibility for the muscle problems. That is poor prep work.

    • Vince makes a reasonable point and gets attacked for it.

      Yeah, that fits this site.

      The team won. It is great. But it is also time to GET REAL. It wasn’t convincing or speculator. Apart from Dempsey’s goal and that last deflection goal, which is exactly what it was, the team looked TERRIBLE.

      How exactly did Ghana dominate possession? Last time I checked, they aren’t a possession-oriented team. We had a very hard time get anything going in the middle of the park. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Jones, the US probably wouldn’t have seen the ball one bit.

      Portugal is going to come in shooting. Ronaldo is not happy with the last game and is going to run our fullbacks ragged. Also, losing Pepe actually works against the US, because we will now miss the opportunity to see him get a red against us.

      It is great to be a US fan but most of you are delusional if you think for one second the team isn’t in MAJOR trouble. Jozy is out. Bradley played like $hit. Dempsey had his nose broken. Our key center defender is at the very least partially injured and current left back was finally exposed for what he is: a converted, aging winger who puts in a great effort but is easily exposed.

      I for one think Portugal is going to win this next game. The writing is on the wall. I certainly hope they don’t but at this point to walk away happy with the way the team played is just ridiculous.

      Here comes the viral, hate and nastiness in 3, 2, 1….

      • Exactly my sentiments. We looked exhausted and didn’t have possession the majority of the game. Jones, Beckerman, and Howard are the only ones that really looked like they had a good game. The rest looked like they were walking zombies up and down the pitch. We have two really tough games left and if we play like we did last night it’s over. I don’t understand all of the unsupported optimism. Did anybody watch the Germany/Portugal game? Germany will wipe us out without needing a breather. Portugal is going to fight like a caged lion on Sunday. I think we need to find an extra gear…already…after the first game.

      • Agree that US has some challenges going into the Portugal match, even without the injuries, but I think Portugal has just as many. Also disagree with your Pepe assessment. His loss is a positive for us. My 3 concerns going in: 1) Who does the dirty work that Jozy normally does? 2) Fabian’s defensive workrate and 3) Matt being 100%. Still think we get a good result though.

      • Ok USA, no viral hate… How about just some point/counterpoint:
        1. Ghana is not a possession oriented team-we’ll wasn’t that the point? To keep it from being a wide open game and allowing their quality midfielders from opening it up?
        Looks to me like the strategy was right, our ability to hold the ball with any purpose failed.
        -I’d take my chances with Bradley, he’s not always gonna have a 95% passing rate. Hopefully he got his one bad game out of his system
        -The holdup play was absent, losing Jozy and Clint’s broken shnozz didn’t help the mids get any relief.
        I’d expect Wondo next.. not because of his holdup play, but because he’ll run around like a maniac applying pressure up top, something AJ and Deuce didn’t do.
        2. How many times have we ended up losing or drawing games like this? Call it luck or intestinal fortitude, but more often than not we’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It’s a great sign we played below average yet got 3 points.
        3. Injuries happen, nobody counts on several at one time..

        We knew getting out of this group was gonna require some stars to align, some heros, and a bit of luck. The same will apply to the Portugal game

      • Ok, let’s get real.
        Let’s look at the rosters of the other team’s in our group.
        Now look at ours.
        There is very good reason we are widely considered underdogs to advance. We often played very positive, possession soccer in qualifying and v second tier teams. Becoming a top tier team and being able to do that v the very best is a progression, we are not there yet, so you find a way. Mourinho and others have no shame in doing so v the Barcas and Bayern Munichs of the world and neither should we.
        Getting out of this group was destined to be a hard fought, very difficult task that would take more blood and guts than pretty football.
        If we had a draw similar to last WC, expectations and the games would be much different.
        Let’s look at the weather in Natal and Manaus, the previous games… it very much limits free-flowing attacking soccer over 90 minutes. It should be noted that Ghana’s players grew up playing in conditions the same as found in yesterdays match.
        How about we have a look at the strengths of Ghana vs ours.
        Our team’s strength is in the midfield and- Ghana has an incredibly talented. pedigreed midfield, with length, strength, skill and speed greater than ours… period. There is a reason they are and always have been a very tough match up for the US. They also played a game that was tactically very intelligent. Defensively, they made it a point to flood the middle immediately pressing Bradley and filling passing lanes, forcing the ball to our weakness outside. Bedoya is a 2 way defensive player, decent on the break, but not really an outside player with a very mediocre cross. Jones was rarely on the outside for offensive forays is is not a wing player in the least. Ghana as they do everywhere, has speed on the flanks… Beasley, Bedoya, even Johnson could rarely turn the corner on them. With our lineup/formation, the plan was very much dependent on JA to hold up the ball until help arrived. We looked pretty decent and posed a threat while he was in. His absence hurt…. LOTS. It will continue to, but not as much as it did v Ghana.
        Some games, some match-ups and some circumstances leave a team with no alternative but to win ugly. The US found a way. I am quite happy the boys gutted it out to fight another day. Now it is up to JK to adjust to injuries and different problems presented by different teams and find another way. What WC is all about. Chin up and enjoy!

      • Exactly right. Vince was attacked and insulted like he is a child. Absurd the way people respond to a post that has some legitimacy but isn’t exactly how they want to frame it. We won, every body is happy with that. It wasn’t a pretty game and we are battered and bruised coming out of it. If 5 days enough to get fully healthy, probably not, but maybe some fresh faces can eat up some minutes for us.

  32. “One way of estimating how long it will take to recover from a hamstring injury is to know if the patient could walk without pain within a day. If this is not the case, recovery will likely take more than three weeks.”

    I pulled that from some medical site.  (Emedicinehealth)

    So basically if he is limping tomorrow we won’t see him until the knock out stages, and even then he won’t be 100%

    The way he pulled up makes it look like a grade 2, we need to prepare for a world cup sans altolidore. Here is praying wondo and Johansson are up to the task. Or maybe a single strike formation?

    • “The way he pulled up makes it look like a grade 2, we need to prepare for a world cup sans [Altidore]”

      Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

    • Be care when using Dr. Google ;). I suffered a hamstring injury. Never saw a doctor. Knew what it was and just quit all running…for a couple of MONTHS. I’m no pro athlete, but Altidore’s WC is done. What a pity. I was so looking forward to him putting a few in and showing the world that he is a solid player. Now Sunderland fans will continue to hate on him.

    • If it yanks and you fall down on the ground and you are in agony and they have to stretcher you off, I suspect he will feel a twinge today. The sort of thing people wish happened is more like a cramp. You tweak it but it lets go. Besler maybe.

  33. Get better fully and quickly Jozy, Matt and Clint; we need you as soon as possible. Great team effort against Ghana. Loved the starting lineup and substitutions.

    Another solid job by Klinsmann in preparing the team for a very tough encounter. Hopefully he will do the same against Portugal.

    I think the team needs to do a better job of counter attacks against Portugal than the team did against Ghana.

    • Sorry to say, but I can almost guarantee you that Jozy will not be back for any part of this tournament, unless it’s the final. Oh, and we won’t be in that.

    • If you’ve ever pulled a hammy or a calf, you know he’s done for the tournament. Takes too long to heal and even if he got partway back it’s the sort of injury you think you’re over the hump and whammo. You wouldn’t want to waste a sub.

      We may have team spirit, disinformation,or other reasons to suggest he might be back, but it would be unwise.

      • Imperative: normally I would agree with you, but I’m guessing you’ve never pulled a hamstring as a result of the actions of a Ghanaian witch doctor. Now that dark energy has to be focused elsewhere on Germany, so for all we know, Jozy woke up feeling fine.

      • I didn’t consider the doctor with a doll and a spike, you are correct, my mistake for the oversight. =p

  34. It will be interesting see what lineup is trotted out against Portugal. I would not be surprised to see the USA play a False 9 with Mix starting.

    • If it’s going to be Mix in a False 9, we’ll probably see something like this:

      Green Mix Dempsey
      Jones Bradley
      Beasley Brooks Cameron Johnson

      Having Dempsey on the right wing makes me nervous, but you have to have him somewhere.

      • Green starting!?? No, I sure hope not. AJ looked totally lost and I can only image how JGreen who do with the start. Wondo should be used before AJ this time. Bedoya and Zusi should be in the plan too

      • If you’re playing a false-9 system, you’ll need two people with pace on either side. If Bedoya hadn’t pulled up late yesterday, I would have had him slot in on the right, and Deuce to the left of Mix. Our depth is really being tested now. True, maybe Wondo would be a better option there, since he was nearly subbed in for Dempsey yesterday.

      • Green isn’t going to play at this cup unless it’s garbage time and we are way behind against Germany. Probably the same for Yedlin, I don’t think Johannsson should see the field again either, but we are sooooo thin uptop.

      • Did I? I don’t think so.
        See my first post – Dempsey is not the ideal person for a false-9 system if he is not the number 9. If Mix is the 9, Dempsey has to be somewhere, in a position where more pace than he has is required.

    • when I started to think about it last night that’s what i thought too.
      We need more control over the mid and better passing.


      • Bedoya looked spent, I think JK goes with Zusi and brings Bedoya off the bench, They seem like perfect subs for each other

      • Don’t know if it’s really right but I feel like Bedoya was a little better defensively than Zusi but I don’t see Bedoya putting that corner in like Zusi. I would thus agree and start Zusi. Love his service and touch.

    • My guess is that the formation/strategy stays mostly the same and Klinsmann either starts Wondolowksi in Altidore’s spot or slides Dempsey up and plays Wondo in Dempsey’s vacated spot on the “left.” Johanson’s a better player overall than Wondo but, as this game made painfully obvious, he’s still not physically strong enough to absorb pressure from bigger players and isn’t crafty enough yet to find spaces when the game becomes less wide open (that’s not to say he won’t develop over the next couple of years, just that he’s not there right now). Wondo isn’t Jozy physically, but he’s built wider than AJ and plays in a more physical league week-in/week-out. Off the ball, he should be able to find spaces in the defense, and he can hold his own a little more often when defenders close in on him.

      Against Portugal, hopefully we don’t lose any more players to injury, so we’ll have the full 3 subs to work with. AJ and/or Mix will be available with fresh legs to replace Wondo in the 2nd half, while Zusi and Bedoya will continue to platoon that 2-way right midfield position in front of Beckerman (there’s an off chance that Zusi starts and Bedoya finishes, although I prefer Bedoya to start the game). Someone below suggested that Green enters the line-up now that we’re short on forwards, but I actually think if any of our young players make it onto the field, the most likely candidate is Yedlin, playing a role similar to the AZB and Turkey games if we’re down a goal and need someone who will push up field.

      • I’d go 4-2-3-1 with DMs Bradley and Jones. I was impressed with Beckerman, too, but I’d hold him as a sub against Portugal. Jones would man mark CR, regardless of where on the field that takes him. Bradley would play positionally like he was lone DM. I’d have Dempsey on left, not sure about the right, and Mix in the middle, plus you know what – I might go with Green up top just because he seems to have some instinct for drawing fouls.

        We need a draw. We get that and we’re probably through. It would be nice to score, especially with Portugal’s back line so questionable, but top priority has to be defensive. Maybe Dempsey or Diskerud can get off a lucky shot. Maybe Green draws a penalty. But keep the focus on defense.

      • A draw would be acceptable but shouldn’t be our goal. if we draw Portugal, we’re on 4 points with a +1 goal differential heading into the Germany match. If Portugal beats Ghana they’d be on 4 points too and could realistically cut their goal differential to -2 or -1 in the process. Germany is such a strong team that, while we could pull out a result or a close loss, there is also a distinct possibility that they blow us out, even while sitting on 6 points, knocking our goal differential down to -1 or even -2. And that, of course, assumes that Ghana doesn’t shock the world and get a result against Germany in its second game, putting both Ghana and Portugal within a win of 4 points and requiring us to tie Germany or hope for a favorable tiebreaker.

        The goal should always be to control our destiny as much as possible. That, I think is why we didn’t just settle for a tie last night (when even the commentators were urging for it) and I suspect it’s what Klinsmann is preaching to the team right now, just as he did during qualifying. Portugal is also somewhat wounded right now, so they’re as good a target as you’ll ever find in a Group of Death. So my guess is that we play for the win (albeit as a counterattacking team) with the understanding that if we tie (or even lose) we’re still in the game.

      • All this is to say, I think we’re probably better off playing a line-up that gives us a second chance to try and generate some offense. So I’d keep Bradley in his advanced role (hoping that he rebounds from a pretty awful passing game last night) and just find someone to play forward who can help us keep some semblance of possession past midfield. I’m thinking that’s probably gonna mean Dempsey (who, on very rare occasions, has played as a lone forward at the club level) and Wondo switching off in a pseudo target/2nd striker partnership. where each gets a chance to run off the other. Not really ideal, but probably the best we can do right now.

      • I hear what you’re saying, petro. A lot hinges on Bradley, in my view. Have you ever seen Bradley look like Bradley at the top of this midfield diamond? In friendlies he hasn’t looked as bad as last night, but I don’t think he’s looked good, either. But from DM he plays more settled, still gets forward some to support attack, etc. When he’s on, he’s our best player. We should build a system around his comfort level.

        We don’t have much of a counter ability. Deuce might be reduced with that broken nose, and when has he been effective on the counter? Only when Donovan is feeding him, from what I remember. A good counter requires speed, timing, vision, and an ability to hit that last cross or through ball – Donovan may have been the best we’ve ever had at starting them.

        With players we have left, I don’t see a strong counter ability. We’re better off, I think, trying to work the ball up with shorter, controlled passes and hope that Diskerud and Dempsey can find some creativity. Besides, I don’t want to see a replay of last night where everything is long balls after short possessions, because it gives the other side too much time on the ball. Portugal might not miss as much as Ghana.

      • Really like the analysis and insight, p4e.
        Got to go for the win against a wounded dog.
        take the fight out of them as early as possible,
        or it could be a long hard afternoon trying to scratch out a point with a draw.

        P.S. looking to the future,
        one may see?,
        red, yellow, and black,
        clashing with red, black, and gold.

  35. I suffered an almost identical broken nose to Clint’s. Breaking it doesn’t really hurt, but resetting it sucks — it involves sticking a large metal rod up your nose farther than you think is possible and yanking it upwards. That said, I was fine breathing wise afterwards and I would bet he will be good to go for the next match (I was).

  36. We got injuries, Portugal has injuries, Portugal is gonna be like a caged animal after getting smoked, this next game is gonna be a war..#GUTCHECK TIME

    • Sunday is going to be insane. There is no other sport going on to any meaningful extent right now. ESPN is going to do the thing they do best and sell this thing hard. It’s a mid-afternoon/early-evening game. On a beautiful weekend in June. And, as you said… it is gong to be a flat-out, high stakes war.

      Would we have it any other way?

      I love this. Do you love this? I know you do Bac… I know you do! YES!

    • Yeah, it hit me last night that when Portugal’s qualification campaign went to a do or die play off with Sweden, Cristaino got in touch with his inner-Gondzilla, scored a hat trick, and out-dueled “The Zlatan”. Lets home Shell-shocked Portugal shows up, not “rabid wounded animal” Portugal.

      • Yeah but that when he was 100 percent. He is nowhere near that right now. So you can relax besides we’re playing bunkerball style soccer.

    • Portugal is a wounded animal. They are not a very good team, everyone is so blind about them because of Ronaldo. They don’t play well and it was proven against Germany. There best defender is gone, possibly the best in La Liga. And Ronaldo looked lost, wcup ronaldo is always useless

      • “They are not a very good team.”

        I have to agree. Yet, their talented roster is scary. Here are a few names for you to mull over and tell me they wouldn’t be in USMNT’s XI:

        Joao Moutinho
        Raul Meireles
        Miguel Veloso
        Bruno Alves
        William Carvalho
        Fabio Coentrao

        …should I stop there? I think about the only position we have an upgrade on them is GK, Rui Patricio is no pushover, mind you.

        But, in the end, I agree with you, the best TEAM Sunday will prevail.

        Go, U.S.A.

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