NATAL, Brazil – Jozy Altidore limped out of the US national team locker room with a smile on his face on Monday night, a consolation prize after one of the most frustrating nights of his career.
Altidore went down in a heap in the 21st minute of the USMNT’s dramatic 2-1 win over Ghana at Arena das Dunas, clutching his left hamstring while running in full stride down the left sideline. A US Soccer spokesman said Altidore suffered a strained hamstring and he’s expected to be examined Tuesday after the team returns to its base in São Paulo.
“I was sprinting and I felt something, and we’ll see what happens,” said Altidore, who was stretchered off in tears. “Of course it was tough for me, I was crushed. I knew right away I couldn’t continue, so that was probably the worst feeling.”
Altidore has battled hamstring injuries in the past, perhaps most notably when he missed the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal and the final against Mexico after coming up lame in similar fashion in the tournament quarterfinals.
“That sucked, missing that final,” Altidore said. “Hopefully I can recover quicker. We’ll have to see, but it felt similar and hopefully I can recover and get back on the field.”
Altidore said he received traditional treatment after he returned to the locker room and didn’t get the opportunity to watch the remainder of the match, which saw the Americans blow an early lead before grabbing a late goal from John Brooks to secure the win. Aron Johannsson replaced Altidore in the lineup.
"It hurts a little," he told Univision's Contacto Deportivo in Spanish after the final whistle. "... I don't know [if I can play in next game]. I hope so. We have to go the hospital tomorrow and we'll see."
Added USMNT captain Clint Dempsey to reporters: “My heart goes out to him, because he’s been working so hard in camp, and he’s been looking really sharp. You know how much he really wanted to do well. You could see the tears in his eyes going back to the locker room.”
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he’s optimistic Altidore will return as quickly as possible ahead of the team’s matchup against Portugal on Sunday (6 pm ET, ESPN), but did not set a timeline on his return.
“Obviously we feel really sorry for Jozy,” Klinsmann said. “We hope it’s not as bad, and we hope we’re going to get him back as quickly as possible.”