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Chris Wondolowski: Replacing Jozy is like replacing Cristiano Ronaldo

Jun 20, 2014, 11:32 PM EDT

Wondolowski AP

Speaking with the media in Brazil ahead of Sunday’s game against Portugal in Manaus, it’s still unsure who will replace the injured Jozy Altidore at the front of the US attack, but that may not necessarily be what the team is trying to do.

With the main man down for the United States with a hamstring injury he blatantly suffered against Ghana, the combination of Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski will have to pick up the slack.

But picking up the slack doesn’t necessarily mean directly replace the man who went down.

“Jozy is a special player – that’s like saying ‘hey, go be Cristiano Ronaldo.'” said Wondolowski at a press conference in Brazil. “You can’t necessarily replace certain aspects of it, but I think that both Aron and I bring different styles, different sets of skills that I think are useful, and I think that’s what we have to go do is incorporate those skill sets, and fit into the game plan as well.”

With Altidore unable to go for at least the game against Portugal – and likely more, barring a miraculous recovery from what looked like a heavy tug to his hamstring – it seems increasingly likely that both men will somehow factor into the game plan at the front.

“We’re going to have to do certain things that Jozy did, and incorporate our styles as well,” Wondolowski said.

[ MORE: Missing Altidore: Who steps up? The case for Chris Wondolowski ]
[ MORE: Missing Altidore: Who steps up? The case for Aron Johannsson ]

Neither men would drop hints on who would get the playing time in Jozy’s absence – or the majority, at least – but with both men using the term “we” a lot, it sounds a lot like the time will be shared.

Whoever plays, whether it’s Wondo, Johannsson, or both, they won’t have the physical attack that Altidore possessed, but they will bring other things to the pitch, and it’s Jurgen Klinsmann’s job to utilize those new abilities on the pitch to their advantage, and look to punch holes in the Portuguese defense missing some pieces.

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