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Jozy Altidore may face Belgium. Would he start for US?

Jun 27, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT

Altidore Getty Images

Following the USA’s qualification to the second-round of the World Cup, more positive news has emerged from Brazil as star striker Jozy Altidore is in line to return.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that he is “very optimistic” about Altidore’s chances of playing vs. Belgium on Tuesday in Salvador and that “every day is a big step forward for him.”

The 24-year-old American forward pulled up in agony midway through the first half of the USA’s 2-1 win over Ghana on June 16. Since then Clint Dempsey has started both the Portugal and Germany games up top on his own, plus the U.S. have also brought on Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski up top. However without Altidore presence as the lone man the USA have struggled to create in the final third and have certainly missed the Sunderland striker.

Altidore is now back running and could be seen doing so at the teams base in Sao Paulo on Friday. That is positive news for the U.S. but will Altidore come straight back into the starting lineup or be used off the bench vs. Belgium?

I would go for the latter. It seems as though Altidore is still some way off recovering fully from his hamstring strain and if he’s not 100 percent fit, then an early battering from Belgium’s powerful defenders Vincent Kompany, Jan Verthonghen et al. isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered. Instead Dempsey should start up top again, then if the U.S. need a goal or want to shake things up in the second half, Altidore should come off the bench to replace one of the wide men (likely Alejandro Bedoya or Graham Zusi) with Dempsey dropping deeper and the U.S. deploying a narrower 4-2-3-1 formation. Assuming that start with something similar to the 4-5-1 ish formation used vs. Germany.

Of course, we are still unsure if Altidore is ready to go for the Belgium game, but his presence either from the start or the subs bench would give the USA a huge boost against Belgium.

  1. heydingis - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    If he’s fit enough to play, I’d rather have him starting. It’s not ideal to have to sub him off early if he pulls up lame, but it’s better to do that in the first half than to sub him in, have him pull up lame and burn another sub taking him off.

    • tridecagon - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      No way. Never start a player that you fear might not make it through the first half. Substitutions are too valuable, you don’t know what might happen.

      Save him on the bench; bring him in if we need to add scoring punch late. Hope we don’t have to use him and he’ll be that much fitter for the quarterfinal.

  2. elgallo2001 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    The only problem I have with bringing Jozy late off the bench is that, for me, Jozy is more of a workhorse. I think he gets stronger as the game goes on and he gets a feel for the D. I don’t really fancy him as an late impact player. That’s just my thoughts… it’s up to JK really.

  3. bigdinla - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Please start some players with pace! Zusi and Davis looked like they were running in mud! Give Johansson a try if Jozy can’t go!

    • drewvt6 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      I’ve gotta imagine Johansson and Mix have some better separation speed than Davis and Zusi. Davis is just plane slow. He’s a waste of a roster spot. He can’t play at the speed of any team at this world cup.

    • lyleoross - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Maybe that’s because they were playing in mud? :)

    • jkirby317 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      They were running in mud. Literally. The stadium is outdoors. It rained for a day before the match. A whole day. Yea, they were running in mud.

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