“Jozy’s a great striker, especially when he’s up there with Clint [Dempsey],” defender Omar Gonzalez said. “Both can create chances, and with Jozy going out early, it’s been a lot of work for Clint. He’s done a great job up there. Hopefully we can see Jozy come back pretty soon, and if that’s the case, it’s going to be a tough task for the defenders that have to mark them.”
The USA faces a tough task against Belgium, but with the success that CONCACAF teams have shown in this World Cup – Mexico had the Netherlands beat until losing the plot at the very end, and Costa Rica has already advanced – there is no reason for the Americans to feel like they don’t belong on the same pitch. Klinsmann said,
“We have no fear at all, We’re ready to go eye to eye with a very good team … ready for a real grind. Anything’s possible. Sky’s the limit, but we have to get over some hurdles and this is a very big hurdle, no doubt about it. We believe we have built the foundation to beat them, but every player needs to be willing to go 120 minutes, plus a penalty shootout if they have to.”
Given Belgium’s defensive tactics and shape in midfield, Altidore could be the difference between winning and losing for the United States. Matches at this stage often come down to fine margins. The lack of attacking quality from the U.S. was evident against Germany. Altidore’s return gives the United States the ability to have a go at Belgium even if it is late on.