Even though the USMNT won a thriller over Ghana in their first game of group play in this year’s World Cup, everyone thought the same thing when Jozy Altidore left the contest with a strained hamstring: The Stars and Stripes have no chance without him. Well, two games later the USA are in the Round of 16 and Altidore will reportedly be ready.
ABC broke the news following a Monday news conference with USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann saying Altidore will suit up, although he likely won’t be in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s 4:00 p.m. ET start against Belgium. Even though Altidore won’t start for the U.S., Klinsmann said it all when he said, “Just having him with us tomorrow is huge.”
Ever since Altidore exited the win against Ghana, the U.S. attack hasn’t exactly been potent. A 2-2 draw against Portugal should have been at least a one-goal victory and the U.S. missed multiple scoring opportunities against Germany in what resulted in an 0-1 loss. Sure, it didn’t matter because the USMNT got into the Round of 16 anyway, but now losing means going home and those scoring opportunities will be critical against Belgium and possibly beyond.
Considering Team USA still advanced through what was called the “Group of Death” despite having Altidore for only the first 21 minutes of play in the World Cup definitely gives the Stars and Stripes hope they can defeat Belgium and then advance to take on the winner of Argentina and Switzerland in the quarterfinals. Obviously, Altidore will have to be 100 percent healthy and on his “A” game if the U.S. have any hope of winning that contest, and one can’t assume they’ll beat Belgium to play in it.
However, having Altidore available will be huge for the USMNT as they look to make history at the World Cup and continue to increase soccer’s popularity in the USA.