Now that the first game of the World Cup is behind them, the United States Men’s National Team looks to Portugal for their next challenge. Changes will need to be made to the starting XI as Jozy Altidore will likely miss the rest of the group stage in Brazil. Clint Dempsey also suffered a broken nose during the game, and Matt Besler was taken off when complaining of a sore right hamstring.
Altidore left the game in the 21st minute clutching the back of his left leg after extending for an over hit pass from Michael Bradley and was reported to have a sprained hamstring which is an injury that, on average, takes one to two weeks to fully heal. “Of course it was tough for me, I was crushed. I knew right away I couldn’t continue, so that was probably the worst feeling,” said Altidore to the media after the game ended.
Although he won’t give a timeline on Altidore’s return, Klinsmann reported that he is optomistic on having him return to the team quickly, “We hope it’s not as bad, and we hope we’re going to get him back as quickly as possible.”
While chasing an aerial ball, Dempsey was hit in the nose by Ghana’s John Boye. Dempsey told reporters he broke his nose in a press conference following the match. Dempsey was able to speak to reporters in a post-game press conference but said he got tired quickly while playing due to difficultly breathing. He was taped up on the sidelines and was able to return to play.
While defending in the box, Matt Besler began to clutch the back of his leg and seemed to limp back into play before being substituted during halftime. Klinsmann told reporters, “We made the right decision. And he didn’t get any injuries, so he’s all fine.”
John Brooks entered the game for Besler and was able to capitalize on a set piece, Brooks scored the winning goal for the US in the 86th minute.
Klinsmann’s diamond formation was put into place to give Michael Bradley the best opportunity to control the ball from midfield, but facing a super offense in Portugal the formation will likely change to keep Bradley further back. Giving Altidore’s replacement, Johannsson more space up front with Dempsey. With Besler’s likely return to face Portugal the defense shouldn’t undergo many changes, as the back four seemed to work well together.
Graham Zusi, who was brought in to relieve a fatigued and gimpy Alejandro Bedoya, may also see extra playing time as he demonstrated his ability to create goal scoring opportunities off set pieces when his corner led to Brooks’ winning goal.
The United States look ahead with confidence with their hard earned three points, but have some rearranging to do in order to perform at their best against a competitive Portugal side despite an injured Fábio Coentrão and the suspended Pepe.