Still out injured, but improving.
That is the diagnosis of U.S. forward Jozy Altidore, as national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann confirmed that the striker will miss the pivotal Group G finale vs. Germany on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters about Altidore’s fitness, Klinsmann confirmed that “Jozy is recovering really well. … This game comes still too early for him.” ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap confirmed the news from the USMNT’s training base in Sao Paulo on Tuesday morning.
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After pulling up with a strained hamstring midway through the first half in Natal during the USA’s opening World Cup match vs Ghana, many believed Altidore would not appear again this World Cup. However the 24-year-old Sunderland forward does seem to be making good progress and if Klinsmann’s optimism is anything to go by, the USA’s main offensive threat could be ready to go for the knockout rounds.
With Clint Dempsey leading the line well vs. Portugal in Altidore’s absence, the U.S. has yet to feel the full impact of the bustling forwards not being out there to bully opposition defenses. Yet this is a blow for the USA’s hopes against Germany, as Altidore ripped a second-string German defense to shreds by grabbing a goal and an assist in a 4-3 friendly win in Washington D.C. last summer.
It was always going to be a big ask for the New Jersey native to be fit for this crucial match. The U.S. must move on and face the Germans without their go-to man up top. Not ideal, but not disastrous. Not yet, anyway.