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Coy but positive, Klinsmann leaves us in the dark about Altidore

Jun 17, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

United States' Jozy Altidore, right, shouts out as he pulls up injured as Ghana's John Boye looks on during the group G World Cup soccer match between Ghana and the United States at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa) AP

Amid the same press conference where Jurgen Klinsmann passed along the good news about Matt Besler, there was little new information about an equally pressing pressing concern. For all the uncertainty the U.S. experienced at the back on Monday once their starting center back left at halftime, the team was just as aimless at the top of its formation, where a 21st minute hamstring injury to starting striker Jozy Altidore forced Aron Johannsson into the game. Over the 69 minutes that followed, the U.S. missed its outlet man, struggling to pass through midfield as it kept the ball on the ground.

Unfortunately for Altidore, his hamstring injury is more severe than Besler’s, though the exact extent of the problem is unknown. With what’s become a trademark if positive coyness, Klinsmann managed to talk about his striker’s plight without providing specifics on the injury, let along a potential recovery.

From reporting by ESPNFC:

“We’ve got to see how he now reacts the next couple of days with his hamstring, and we’re full of hope that he comes back still in the tournament …”

“That’s what we’re going to work on every day. The medical staff is doing a tremendous job [for] weeks, so we still have the hope that Jozy will be back. How quickly, that is down to his healing process.”

Assume you didn’t see the way Altidore went down on Monday and are hoping he’ll be ready on Sunday. See anything in Klinsmann’s response that eliminates that possibility? Or, for that matter, describes it as improbably, likely, or any place on our uncertain spectrum? Perhaps the allusion to “in the tournament” does, but thanks to the head coach’s coyness, somebody could convince themselves the Altidore will play against Portugal.

Put yourself on the other end of that see-saw, though. Assume you saw the injury, think the hamstring’s done, and Altidore’s not coming back this tournament.

Now re-read Klinsmann’s quote. There’s nothing there that precludes that scenario, too. As it concerns Altidore’s injury, Klinsmann’s words are basically useless.

Don’t blame Klinsmann for that. If anything, respect him (and if not him, then his job). He’s trying to obscure the picture.

The U.S. boss went on to admit as much, though in doing to, he fully engaged the prospect of a Jozy-less future:

“I don’t want to go too deep into details, because obviously we want Portugal to guess a little bit as well, but when one of your key players is not available, does it change certain things? Absolutely, it does.

Jozy is a very strong key player in our group, so we’ll think about the right way to handle that situation.

We’ll still field 11. We’re not a man down.”

After reading all that, you probably have a gut feeling about whether Altidore plays. Of course, I have my own. Start with the caution we saw Klinsmann use toward Besler, add in the possible severity of Altidore’s injury, and I think he’s out. I think he’s way out. Not only do I not see Altidore featuring for Portugal, I doubt we’ll see him against Germany, either. If he comes back at all this tournament, I’ll be slightly surprised.

Do I know that with any certainty? Of course not. Klinsmann’s intent on making sure nobody knows if Jozy Altidore will be ready for Manaus. Given the information can only help the Portuguese prepare, you can’t blame him for leaving us in the dark.

  1. hoosiercolts - Jun 18, 2014 at 6:25 AM

    As someone who is an admitted “Every 4 years soccer fan”….. I saw him go down, but after watching all the broken legs and jacked up knees that miraculously heal in seconds after the card is given or ignored; how can anyone determine the seriousness of an injury in a soccer game? There is no other sport where players writhe in tremendous pain on second, as though knockin’ on heavens door, and are sprinting down the field at full speed 15 seconds later. Good luck gleaning any info from that crap.

    • tridecagon - Jun 18, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Jozy wasn’t trying to get a foul, there was nobody near enough to him. He just blew it out and he’s not going to be able to run on it for a while.

    • keytoarson - Jun 18, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      Did you see him sprinting afterwards? Or looking for a card for the other player? There’s plenty of faking in other sports, basketball, even football. Your comment is completely irrelevant. Go away.

      • malangsob - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:43 AM

        Bull…NO other sports participants ‘fake’ like soccer players. NONE…in basketball there is flopping but nothing like the Academy Award winning performances given by soccer/football/futbol players.

    • Nick - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      The “you can’t believe any injury because soccer players are all fakers” is tired. Obviously, there is some gamesmanship, but anyone watching Jozy knows that wasn’t the case here–there was no foul, just a guy pulling up. He won’t play against Portugal for sure, unless he is doing his best Willis Reed impersonation.

  2. alane1972 - Jun 18, 2014 at 7:08 AM

    Jozy is done. If he was only mildly injured or feigning then he would not have been stretchered off. Hamstrings take 3 weeks to heal minimum if history is accurate. Tough break

  3. unclemosesgreen - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    My guess is that Jozy has a serious Grade 2 strain & won’t be match fit for 5-6 weeks.

  4. lyleoross - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    As a guess, Jozy is done. If not, then he had a cramp. Remember, a cramp can feel like a bad tear, everything locks up and you go down quick. I’ve been running for 40 years, and I’ve had my share, and every time you think “man that hurts.”

    If it’s a tear, like it looked to be, he’s done. If they have a facility in Sao Paulo to do Magnetic Imaging, they already know. I’ve torn my calf twice playing soccer, and both times they knew as soon as I came out of the machine exactly what the tear was, how long I’d be in rehab, and how much I could use it. Look for pictures of Jozi. If he’s on crutches it’s bad, if he’s walking on it, he might come back.

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