Two down, one to go, according to Jurgen Klinsmann. Speaking at a Tuesday press conference, the United States Men’s National Team head coach said two of the three stars that were injured in Monday’s 2-1 win over Ghana will be ready to go on Sunday, with doubts surrounding defender Matt Besler alleviated after the Sporting Kansas City all-star was given the all clear.
According to Klinsmann, Dempsey’s broken nose, suffered the the first half, will not sideline him for the U.S.’s next match, against Portugal. Striker Jozy Altidore is still uncertain after a 21st minute hamstring injury forced his removal.
Matt Besler is in the Dempsey camp. Though he was replaced at halftime against Ghana by John Brooks, the 27-year-old’s own hamstring problem does not approach the severity of Altidore’s. According to his head coach, Besler will play on Sunday in Manaus, pushing Brooks back to his spot on the bench.
“Matt is no problem,” Klinsmann said, augmenting this statement before moving on to the next topic. “[He’ll be] all fine for the next game.”
For U.S. fans, the news is cause for relief. Though Brooks eventually produced the game-winning goal, he was also slow to fill the space in defense during André Ayew’s late equalizer. Even before that 82nd minute score, the back line had looked less confident after Besler’s substitution, with the Black Stars finally able to consistently connect with Gyan once the team’s starting left-center back was removed.
Whether those connections were caused by Ghana’s improvement or Besler’s absence, there is a coincidence, one the U.S. need not investigate further. Going into a match that could secure its place in the knockout round, the States’ back four will be in tact.
Brooks may prove good enough to fill Besler’s shoes. Fortunately for U.S. fans, they don’t have to find out so soon.