Jozy Altidore's Hamstring Problems Won't Be Major Factor Against Costa Rica
Don't expect the United States' success against Costa Rica on Friday night to be tethered to the health of Jozy Altidore's hamstring.
There was a bit of a worry from American supporters when the 23-year-old missed out on Sunderland's 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace last weekend (h/t Brian Sciaretta of Yanks Abroad).
Altidore is not in the 18 for Sunderland today due to a sore hamstring— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 31, 2013
However, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl reported Altidore was cleared for full training on Thursday.
Jozy Altidore cleared to resume full training ahead of Costa Rica-USA WCQ. Has scored in his last 5 internationals, a US record.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 3, 2013
According to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle, Jurgen Klinsmann was going to be very careful with the forward's recovery.
Klinsmann on Jozy Altidore's condition: "We take it day by day. Today will be another big step.": #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) September 5, 2013
As long as Altidore is on the pitch, the US shouldn't have much to worry about. This could be the first time Klinsmann has the four best players at his disposal at once (h/t Sciaretta).
Hard to believe the last time Altidore, Donovan, Dempsey, and Bradley all started for the #usmnt was 6/14/11. Never under Klinsmann— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) September 5, 2013
The United States are playing some of the best football since Bob Bradley had them finishing atop the "Hex" in 2010 World Cup qualifying. They're on a great run, and it's gone beyond just relying on the same players time and time again.
Who should get the start at striker against Costa Rica?
Sure Altidore has been huge, but other stars have had their moments, whether it was Brek Shea, Eddie Johnson, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley or Graham Zusi. All except Shea will be available against Costa Rica.
Aron Johannsson has also looked good in his brief time with the national team and has already scored three goals in five Eredivisie matches for AZ Alkmaar.
If Klinsmann is forced to select Johnson or Johannsson, the US attack shouldn't suffer a major drop-off. In terms of striker depth, the talent pool is nowhere near as shallow as it has been in the past, so Klinsmann doesn't have to rely so heavily on Altidore anymore.
Given his style, though, you could see Altidore being unaffected by his hamstring issues. He's not the kind of player who needs to be all that mobile. He's at his best when he stays close to goal and relies on the midfielders around him to supply him with the right service.
The young forward won't need to run around the pitch a lot, which means that if his hamstring isn't 100 percent, he won't be as effected as somebody like Bradley, Donovan or Dempsey. Even at something close to 80 or 90 percent, Altidore would be a solid threat close to goal.
Costa Rica will be a very organized side. They'll likely stay close to goal and try to make the field very small for the United States. If this game is going to be won, it's going to be won in midfield and not in the final third.
As long as Bradley, Donovan, Zusi, Dempsey and/or Mix Diskerud do their jobs, it won't matter who is at the top of the attack.
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