USMNT May Not Have A Sufficient Answer For The Problem That Jozy Altidore’s Injury Creates

USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann

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If only replacing an injured striker was as easy as taking one striker out, and then bring another straight in. Unfortunately for USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, things are not quite that simple. Jozy Altidore, although not in the greatest form or vein of confidence right now, is still a pivotal player for the USMNT, and as he now faces time out with a hamstring injury, he may well be leaving a hole that the U.S. just cannot fill.

The severity of the injury is still unknown, but Altidore is surely set for time on the sidelines, with the real question merely being just how long he will be sat there. It’s bad news for the U.S., not only from an emotional standpoint — you never want to see any player miss such a huge competition — but from a tactical standpoint too.

Altidore, of the strikers in the USMNT roster of players, is the only one who brings the attributes that he does — he may well be irreplaceable in that respect. He is strong and physical but with good agility and running power also as a great athlete. He has the ability to drag the team up the pitch by holding the ball up, running the channels for loose balls and drawing fouls in the opposition half. Who will now give the team that escape up the pitch from the constant pressure of the opposition?

The U.S. spent a lot of time defending deep in their own half against Ghana and will surely now spend a similar amount of time doing exactly the same against more talented teams in Portugal and Germany. At some point, though, the defense needs respite and relief from the work it is having to undertake. That is where the worth of Altidore comes in; he can give the defense that respite by holding the ball up and getting the U.S. into the opposition half by drawing fouls and linking up with the midfielder players.

Of the remaining strikers, Aron Johannsson does not particularly excel in any area physically but has been a good goalscorer during his time Holland. Clint Dempsey is a hardworking striker with a touch of the unknown in his locker who can create or score from nothing. And Chris Wondolowski is a predator in and around the opposition box with some decent hold up play at times.

They all bring their own attributes and skill sets, but none of them can replace the athleticism and hold-up play that Altidore brings to the table. The proof will ultimately be on the pitch, of course, but there has to be a real concern right now that the U.S. will lack any real out-ball as they move forward in this World Cup. Sitting deep and defending for most of a game against Ghana is one thing, but doing it against some of the better teams in the competition will be asking a lot.

Maybe Klinsmann can somehow find an alternate answer to the problem that Altidore’s injury creates, or perhaps the injury does not prove to be as bad as first feared — either way, the U.S. need an answer from somewhere because a solution to this problem is not immediately obvious and, frankly, may not even sufficiently exist for the USMNT and Klinsmann.

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  • Colonel Klink

    first we must ask what is most important for us. Right now, it is AVOID DEFEAT to pass group stage. Forget playing pretty, that’s secondary and it is brought up by insecure fans and Ghanian and Portuguese Trolls…. wake up. Don’t let perfectionists ruin our WC, the 4-3-2-1 worked vs Nigeria. Altidore got injured vs Ghana and it might have been modified but its spirit of defending low, reducing space, protecting the CBs, denying the middle and over the top were still there. No, dought we could have been more offensive but most likely chose not to fearing the possibilities of yet another loss to Ghana. How do we achieve that? By reducing space and frustrating their stars. We might hope for more possession but we shouldn’t be planning on it. Face it, its Portugal, desperate, in a WC! They have injured players so why don’t we take it to them? Bad idea. We got injured players too and we need to avoid more injuries at all cost. So if Bedoya is not at 100% that’s where Zusi comes in but lets be careful as to where and lets not start making wild changes. Why change what worked so well to give every USMNT fan what they wanted most: REVENGE! Now that we have that and our confidence is up, lets not get carried away. Offense, pretty plays and the WIN will come naturally as the Portuguese get more and more frustrated. We should defend and counter and use set plays. Zusi could help us with that. But we also have to think about who we have available to replace our injured players. I really advocated the x-mas tree a lot, for months but with Altidore out, so MAYBE we should modify the top and leaving the bottom of the formation as is.. Dempsey may be bothered by pain and he doesn’t play like Altidore but he can score a lot more. Zusi can cross and both Wondo and Johannsson can head and score off of crosses and set pieces. So can Bradley and Brooks.

    .
    KOREA- ( first ) from a cross from Zusi that Davis shoots at goal but deflects off the GK and headed in by WONDO. (second) inside the box pass from Zusi to Donovan who cleverly backheels it and WONDO blasts it in.

    UKRAINE: none

    MEXICO- (first) BRADLEY scores off a corner kick from Zusi.
    (second) WONDO scored off a cross from Beltran that Bradley headed in front of him.

    AZERBAIJAN- (first) MIX scores off the GK’s deflection from a Bradley shot. (second) JOHANNSSON scores a header off a cornerkick from Davis.

    TURKEY: (first) JOHNSON scores after a stunning Bradley pass.
    (second) DEMPSEY scores after the ball is miss kicked by a defender coming from a cross from Chandler.

    NIGERIA:( first) Bedoya makes a pass to Johnson who takes it at the end line and crosses a rolling ball for ALTIDORE to tap in. (second) Jones passes short to Bradley who still at midfield makes a long aerial thru pass that ALTIDORE receives, dominates, shakes off his defender, shoots a missle, and scores.

    GHANA: (first) DEMPSEY receives a pass from Jones on the outside of the left side of the box where he charges at the goal going around a defender and scoring. (second) BROOKS heads it in from a corner kick taken by Zusi.

    .

    Howard
    Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley
    Jones, Beckerman, Bradley
    Zusi, Dempsey
    Wondo