SALVADOR, Brazil – Striker Jozy Altidore will dress and be available for the United States when they take on Belgium in the World Cup knockout round at Arena Fonte Nova here on Tuesday (4 pm ET, ESPN, Univision, CBC in Canada, match preview), but it’s unclear exactly how much he can offer while still recovering from his hamstring injury.
Altidore suffered the injury during the Americans’ opening match on June 16, and Klinsmann said earlier this week that he was optimistic his top scoring threat would contribute in some way against the Belgians.
“We don’t know how much, but he’s available,” Klinsmann said. “This is what we wanted. This is what we hoped for. This is what the medical staff has been working for since the injury. … They worked day and night with Jozy, and just having him is huge. How many minutes? We’ll see that during the game.”
Klinsmann did not indicate how much Altidore has trained at full speed with the team in recent days, but he said the team’s trainers worked tirelessly with him over the weekend in anticipation that he might return on Tuesday.
“It’s difficult to say with Jozy in the two or three days he’s been with the team, how much work is in his legs,” Klinsmann said. “There’s a lot of individual stuff going on … but it’s not clear to say how many minutes [he can play].”
If Altidore is unable to start, Klinsmann will likely forgo a two-man attacking front and lean on the formation he used against Portugal and Germany, with Clint Dempsey once again the lone top option up top.
“If you look at the Portugal game, we created more chances in that formation just because we did a good job of keeping possession and we had more confidence in the attacking third,” Dempsey said. “But who’s to say what formation we’ll use in the next game? That’s up to [Klinsmann]. But I think whatever formation we used in the group stage was correct, because we were able to get out of the group and get to the knockout stage.”