The first group stage match of the World Cup for the USMNT could not have gone any better in regards to the result. However, the injury to Jozy Altidore is a big issue that Jurgen Klinsmann must negotiate. There are plenty of options and one that makes the most sense, but Klinsmann has shown that he does not follow the opinion of the masses. There is no reason to expect the obvious from Klinsmann as they take on Portugal.
The best choice on the surface is for the USMNT to move back into a 4-2-3-1 that was the preferred formation in 2013. This would put Clint Dempsey as the lone striker and provide an extra option in the midfield. It would mean Jermaine Jones pairs with Kyle Beckerman at the back and puts an extra pair of eyes on Cristiano Ronaldo. This formation also provides an extra passing option and can be transformed when moving to the attack.
If it is transformed in the attack this gives the possibility that Aron Johannsson pinches in for the attack and Jones filters to the left as he has been doing in the diamond midfield. Johannsson was ineffective against Ghana when he replaced Altidore, but he has shown the ability to break a game open. He could start and be the lone striker as well with Dempsey filling in behind him as he is normally deployed.
The other option is using Chris Wondolowski, but he is a poacher. He will not be able to hold up play like Altidore, and he is not as explosive as Johannsson. There is no player on the team with the physical ability of Altidore, and some fans may now be wishing that Terrence Boyd made the squad. Some are even calling for Mix Diskerud to start to team with Dempsey.
Regardless of one’s wishes, the final decision will be up to Klinsmann. That decision could be questioned since Klinsmann likes to go with the unconventional. The Portugal match is big as the USMNT can qualify for the second round with a win depending on the outcome of Germany - Ghana. We will find out what Klinsmann is thinking when the lineups are revealed around 5 p.m. ET Sunday night.