MIAMI — Heading into the upcoming Copa America, the U.S. Men’s National Team will once again be without Jozy Altidore. In the wake of yet another setback, Jurgen Klinsmann and company will look for someone to step up while continuing to support the 26-year-old striker.
Toronto FC announced on Monday that Altidore would all but certainly miss the Copa America with yet another hamstring issue. The injury is just the latest in a long line of physical woes for the striker, who was hampered at the 2014 World Cup and last summer’s Gold Cup with a similar ailment.
Just one day after hearing the news, Klinsmann is still coping with the latest setback to his star striker. Now, it’s about avoiding a repeat going forward as Klinsmann hopes that this summer is the last in which the USMNT will be without Altidore’s services.
“It’s definitely an issue that follows him for quite awhile, and it’s something that we are all working hard on to get to the bottom of it, to find the cause of these hamstring injuries,” Klinsmann said. “Where does this really come from? Is it training-related? Is it environmentally-related? Is it lifestyle-related or a medical issue? Where does this come from? Hopefully, the people work with him find the cause because that is the most important thing because, otherwise, he’s always questioning himself. He always thinks, ‘what if something happens next time?’ Hopefully, we find that cause, find that problem sooner or later, hopefully sooner, and help him.
“It’s a huge bummer for all of us, especially for Jozy, because he had so much drive and ambition going towards the Copa America,” Klinsmann added. “He was preparing himself for the entire year, starting in January and he hoped to really peak in June for this special tournament. Now, that message, I told him ‘you have to put it behind you and keep going and stay positive. The next tournament is waiting for you’. Obviously it’s a big blow for us and him personally, but there’s nothing you can do, unfortunately.”
Altidore’s longtime teammate Alejandro Bedoya heard the news late Monday night upon arrival in Miami for USMNT camp. As expected, the veteran midfielder was shocked by the news as the U.S. is forced to navigate its first injury crisis before a Copa America ball is even kicked.
The USMNT began training on Tuesday, and Bedoya says he expects some players to step up and seize the opportunity Altidore’s injury will make available.
“It’s a blow of course,” Bedoya said. “He’s one of our key players and one of our best strikers. With ever team, injuries happen. They’re part of the game. We’re just going to have to deal with it and move on. It’s an opportunity for other players to step in and prove their worth and help us out.
“Losing Jozy, not just as a team, but as a friend, it’s a big one.”