Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
SAO PAULO — The outlook on the injuries of Clint Dempsey and Matt Besler appears to be positive. The one on Jozy Altidore is still not known.
A day after seeing his U.S. Men’s National Team pick up a dramatic 2-1 win against Ghana in its World Cup opener, Jurgen Klinsmann gave an update on the status of some of his injured players. Klinsmann said succinctly that Besler is recovered from the right hamstring tightness that forced the centerback to be replaced at halftime of the Group G match and is “all fine” for Sunday’s clash with Portugal. He added that Dempsey is also going to be available despite suffering a confirmed broken nose that caused the U.S. captain to have trouble breathing.
Klinsmann was also optimistic about a potential return for Altidore, who left Monday’s match at Arena das Dunas with a non-contact left hamstring strain in the 23rd minute. There was no timeline for the striker’s recovery, however, and he seems all but certain to miss the upcoming encounter against Cristiano Ronaldo and co. at Arena Amazonia in Manaus.
“With Jozy, we’ve got to see now how he reacts the next couple of days with his hamstring and we are full of hope that he comes back still in this tournament,” said Klinsmann. “That’s what we kind of work on every day, the medical staff is doing a tremendous job. We still have the hope that Jozy will be back. How quickly? That is down to his healing process.”
Altidore and Besler both underwent MRIs on Tuesday when the U.S. returned to its World Cup homebase in Sao Paulo, but the results were not made available at the time of Klinsmann’s press conference. What was also not yet known was whether Dempsey would opt to wear a face mask to protect his broken nose against a Portugal team coming off a 4-0 loss to Germany.
A tidbit that did come out of the U.S.’s meeting with media members at Sao Paulo FC’s training facility was that Alejandro Bedoya was suffering from cramps just before being replaced in the second half against Ghana. The veteran U.S. midfielder was also troubled by what he described as a “hip pointer” following a corner kick in the opening 45 minutes.
“I got hit there and it’s an injury I’ve had before, so it was bothering me a lot,” said Bedoya. “But then I just cramped up as well, my hamstring, when I tried to block that last cross right before I came off. A little bit of both things (led to me being removed), but I should be all right.”
The number of hamstring injuries the U.S. suffered in the game raised concerns over whether Klinsmann and his coaching staff had pushed the Americans too hard during the run-up to the World Cup, but the head coach dismissed that notion.
“It’s the result of a very physical game, very fast-paced, very demanding and demanding conditions,” said Klinsmann. “I think our preparation went really, really well. We were lucky not to have any injuries (in the pre-World Cup camp) and we slowed it down before that game. Everybody was fresh, everybody was good so then you hit some individual cases.”
Think Altidore can return for the Germany game on June 26? Is the U.S. coaching staff responsible for any of Monday’s injuries? Who should the U.S. start on Sunday in Altidore’s place?
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