US injury update: Dempsey with a broken nose, Altidore’s status bleak


The US experienced an emotional roller coaster in Natal tonight, but now the focus will be to look forward to a quick turnaround against Portugal on Sunday.

Something that will be a big concern for the US is their injuries they suffered during their match against Ghana.

We should start by saying nobody is fully fit in Group G. The Germans were without Bastian Schweinsteiger in their match against Portugal, and saw Mats Hummels helped off with a leg injury in the second half.

The Portuguese needed to sub off both Fabio Coentrao and Hugo Almeida with injuries, and had Pepe suspended thanks to his moronic red card. Finally, we saw Kevin-Prince Boateng come on in the second half for Ghana, which was more than originally expected, considering reports said he was out of the starting eleven thanks to an injury.

The United States came into Ghana at full strength, one of the only teams to enter the World Cup without any injuries, but they suffered a number of knocks against Ghana – some more serious than others.

[ MORE: Brooks wins it late | Man of the Match | Talking points ]

The first and most obvious is Jozy Altidore, who caught the crosshairs of the proverbial sniper in the 21st minute against Ghana.  He went down clutching his left leg, and was crying (according to teammates and coach) as he left the pitch on a stretcher.

His outlook is bleak. There is no official word from US Soccer yet other than it’s a “strain” and not a straight-up tear, but it’s likely that at this point, best case scenario for Altidore is that he maybe could return for any potential knockout round matches.

As ESPN’s medical analyst team pointed out after the game, a hamstring strain still involves a tear, but it’s not a tear of the muscle from the bone – thankfully – just a tear of the muscle itself. Therefore, it’s difficult to speculate how long he’ll be out.  However, there will certainly be a lot of swelling, pain, and discoloration for Jozy, and he almost certainly won’t be back for the match against Portugal.

Another player removed due to injury is central defender Matt Besler.  John Brooks replaced him and played incredibly well, defending well and scoring the game-winner, but having Besler back will be crucial going forward.

He was clearly hampered at the end of the first half with a hamstring injury of his own, and Klinsmann removed him at the break.   The only news we’ve seen is the original diagnosis from US Soccer, which was “tightness” of the hamstring. They called the substitution “precautionary” but it’s hard to see how Klinsmann would be “precautionary” in the biggest match in four years.

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

Either way, that’s quite a bit better than Jozy’s situation, and depending on how he heals up in the coming days, it’s still very possible we could have Besler back for Portugal on Sunday.

According to writer Franco Panizo, both Altidore and Besler were walking with noticable limps after the match, but that’s to be expected, as hamstring injuries can be incredibly painful.

Clint Dempsey took a John Boye shin to the face towards the end of the first half as retribution for schooling the Ghanian defender 32 seconds into the game, and confirmed after the game that he likely has a broken nose.

But we already knew that from the images we saw:

And the one we all reacted to on the ESPN broadcast when it first happened:


Don’t try to tell me you didn’t turn to your buddy, cringing, and say “yea, that’s broken.” I did.

He carried on and played the rest of the game, and in the postmatch presser, he sounded like he both inhaled helium and held his nose closed.  If he can heal properly, there’s no reason why he couldn’t play in the ensuing games left on the US schedule, but he’ll likely wear a mask to prevent any further trauma to the nose.

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

Finally, one that hasn’t been mentioned much is Geoff Cameron.  Nobody’s updated his status or even talked about him, and while the other CB played the full 90 minutes, he seemed to be cringing a bit and stretching his legs just before halftime.

It’s very likely he was just suffering from cramps, but definitely will be in the back of people’s minds as we await updates from US Soccer over the coming week.

One more note: not injury-related, but after the match, both John Brooks and Jermaine Jones were randomly selected for doping tests by FIFA.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans celebrates after Sounders' Nelson Haedo Valdez scored a goal against Sporting Kansas City in the second half of an MLS soccer playoff match, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Seattle. The Sounders beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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The game in 100 words (or less): There’s a ton to unpack here, so we’ll dive right in. The Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City in the final knockout-round game of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Nelson Valdez scored the game’s only goal, an 88th-minute header, but not without supreme controversy. For starters, Valdez was offside as Joevin Jones played the ball into the box, just as Matt Besler was on a free kick for Sporting earlier in the second half. Besler’s goal was ruled out for offside, Valdez’s was allowed to stand. Benny Feilhaber, perhaps in his final game for Sporting, played like a man possessed and so nearly singlehandedly won the game for Sporting at multiple points on the night. Stefan Frei stood on his head and refused to allow such an occurrence. Osvaldo Alonso could have been sent off twice on the night — once on a straight red; once on a second yellow — but finished the game with just a single caution. Up next, the Sounders will take on Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

10′ — Zusi hits the post with a strike through traffic — Benny Feilhaber’s through ball to set up this double-chance for Sporting in sumptuous, and fully deserving of a proper finish.

53′ — Besler heads home, but he’s offside — This is about as close an onside/offside decisions get.

79′ — Frei denies Feilhaber after a spectacular run — Feilhaber’s run was mesmerizing, but Stefan Frei’s save was the tiniest bit better.

88′ — Valdez heads home the late winner — If Besler was offside, Valdez was offside. An unfitting end to a thrilling game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Benny Feilhaber

Goalscorers: Valdez (88′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: D.C. United 2-4 Montreal Impact (video)

CORRECTS DATE - Montreal Impact forward Matteo Mancosu, back, celebrates his goal with Ignacio Piatti (10) during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against D.C. United, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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The game in 100 words (or less): There are epic playoff collapses, and there is the MLS Cup Playoffs abomination put forth by D.C. United on Thursday. Playing host to a Montreal Impact side that won just two of its last eight regular-season games and crawled over the finish line, United — winners of four of their last five and one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch — no-showed Thursday’s knockout-round tie, and their season is deservingly finished. Laurent Ciman put the Impact ahead inside the first five minutes, and United never recovered or seemed the least bit urgent with their season on the line. Matteo Mancosu bagged a brace either side of halftime to make it 3-0, and Ignacio Piatti, who was his usual brilliant self — so good, in fact, he made you forget Didier Drogba was unavailable due to injury/dispute over his role as a substitute — added a fourth not long before full-time. Lamar Neagle grabbed a late consolation goal for United, bringing them back to 4-1 before Taylor Kemp fired a laser past Evan Bush for 4-2 late in stoppage time, but that’s as close as they’d get. Up next for the Impact, it’s the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Ciman slots home from a corner for 1-0 — An absolute dream start for Montreal, as Ciman gets front side of his marker and benefits from a fortunate bounce after he scuffs the shot.

43′ — Mancosu slams home Piatti’s cross for 2-0 — Someone tell DCU that the knockout round is most definitely win-or-go-home. Horrific defending. Ball-watching all over the place. This is not the same team that won four of their last five in order to host this game.

58′ — Mancosu heads home at the near post for 3-0 — Steve Birnbaum has not had the greatest end to the 2016 season. Stay healthy, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Matteo Mancosu

Goalscorers: Ciman (4′), Mancosu (43′, 58′), Piatti (83′), Neagle (90′), Kemp (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.