SAO PAULO – Striker Jozy Altidore remains the biggest question mark for the United States ahead of their World Cup Round of 16 game against Belgium next week, but he’s the only obvious injury concern after a physical run through the Group of Death.
Altidore jogged around the US practice field at their Barra Funda complex here on Friday but did not participate in full training with the team. After suffering a left hamstring strain just 21 minutes into the team’s opening match against Ghana on June 16, Altidore has steadily inched closer to a potential return and has now been jogging for three consecutive days.
“We are very optimistic,” head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “Every day is a big step forward with Jozy. It’s been 11 days now, and it’s looking better every day. We’re optimistic we’ll have him be part of the Belgium game.”
The team’s only other injury concern appears minor, as a team spokesman confirmed that midfielder Jermaine Jones broke his nose in the team’s loss to Germany. Jones suffered the injury in the second half of the game in a scary collision with teammate Alejandro Bedoya and told media members following the match that he was certain he had broken his nose.
The injury, however, does not appear to be as serious as the broken nose suffered by forward Clint Dempsey in the group stage opener against Ghana. Jones did not boast the same swelling and clear dislocation of the nose as Dempsey did, and he will not wear a mask for the match against Belgium.
Both Jones and Bedoya were tested by team doctors during the game, immediately following the game, later Thursday night and again Friday morning for concussion symptoms, and both have been cleared to train.
The US worked out on Friday and will practice on Saturday here before they depart for Salvador on Sunday morning, They are expected to practice in Salvador on Sunday afternoon and Monday before the match against Belgium on Tuesday.