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Klinsmann: Matt Besler “all fine” for Sunday against Portugal; John Brooks back to bench

Jun 17, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 16: Matt Besler of the United States challenges Jordan Ayew of Ghana during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. Getty Images

Two down, one to go, according to Jurgen Klinsmann. Speaking at a Tuesday press conference, the United States Men’s National Team head coach said two of the three stars that were injured in Monday’s 2-1 win over Ghana will be ready to go on Sunday, with doubts surrounding defender Matt Besler alleviated after the Sporting Kansas City all-star was given the all clear.

According to Klinsmann, Dempsey’s broken nose, suffered the the first half, will not sideline him for the U.S.’s next match, against Portugal. Striker Jozy Altidore is still uncertain after a 21st minute hamstring injury forced his removal.

Matt Besler is in the Dempsey camp. Though he was replaced at halftime against Ghana by John Brooks, the 27-year-old’s own hamstring problem does not approach the severity of Altidore’s. According to his head coach, Besler will play on Sunday in Manaus, pushing Brooks back to his spot on the bench.

“Matt is no problem,” Klinsmann said, augmenting this statement before moving on to the next topic. “[He’ll be] all fine for the next game.”

For U.S. fans, the news is cause for relief. Though Brooks eventually produced the game-winning goal, he was also slow to fill the space in defense during André Ayew’s late equalizer. Even before that 82nd minute score, the back line had looked less confident after Besler’s substitution, with the Black Stars finally able to consistently connect with Gyan once the team’s starting left-center back was removed.

Whether those connections were caused by Ghana’s improvement or Besler’s absence, there is a coincidence, one the U.S. need not investigate further. Going into a match that could secure its place in the knockout round, the States’ back four will be in tact.

Brooks may prove good enough to fill Besler’s shoes. Fortunately for U.S. fans, they don’t have to find out so soon.

  1. talgrath - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Good to hear Besler will be back and Dempsey should be okay to play (albeit, probably wearing some sort of protective gear); but Altidore is probably out for the tournament, or at least out for the group stage and that’s some very bad news. Johansson isn’t a like for like replacement, he’s more finesse and deceptive speed while Altidore is more about height and hold up play. The US only has one “holding” forward now, and that’s Dempsey (who can and does do just about anything at forward), but he’s not nearly as good at the hold up as Altidore. Ironically, if anything, this is an argument for Eddie Johnson to have been included in the squad more than anything else. With all of that said, I like the chance the forwards have against Portugal, they only have one (1!) starting defender in their line up now, the other three are suspended or confirmed as being out on injury; so if the US can hold of Ronaldo and Nani, they have a very good chance of smashing in more than enough goals to win.

  2. mcba1n - Jun 18, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    “For U.S. fans, the new is cause for relief. Though Brooks eventually produced the game-winning goal, he was also slow to fill the space in defense during André Ayew’s late equalizer.”

    This statement is irritating on several levels. Firstly, it was just great movement/combination that created the goal. Secondly, it was Fabian’s responsibility to cover the scorer.
    There is almost no central defender on the planet that fills that gap. You cannot get on Brooks for that goal – the issue is MUCH larger. Be fair, please.

  3. booger1234 - Jun 18, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    Yea that goal was Zusi and Fabians fault. Zusi not closing down the midfield passing which Bedoya did good while in. And Fabian ball watching and not marking his man on the move. I also thought Mix should have come in for Bedoya not Zusi. Mix has shown much more entering the games late then Zusi and he defends better in my eyes.

  4. midtec2005 - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Not bringing another target forward may have been an oversight. But then again, who is it? I see the point about Eddie Johnson, but he is still lacking in technical areas. Maybe Terrance Boyd should have made the trip….

    Hopefully over the next few years Jack McBean develops into a nice player. Playing for the first team in LA at 17 years old is a good start.

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