Helder Postiga Injury: Updates on Portugal Star's Status and Return

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2014

Portugal's Helder Postiga listens to the national anthems prior to a 2014 World Cup first leg qualifying playoff soccer match between Portugal and Sweden at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Helder Postiga's 2014 World Cup match against the USA came to an abrupt end on Sunday, the Portugal striker forced to leave the pitch with a hamstring injury within the first 20 minutes.

Soccer America's Paul Kennedy tweeted the news, immediately making the link with the difficult Manaus climate the match was played in:

Portugal had taken the lead early via a Nani goal, but several players on the pitch seemed to be struggling with the pace of the match. Due to the high humidity in the area, teams have been hoarding their substitutions as much as they can.

Postiga seemed to pull his hamstring after just a quarter of an hour, and he was immediately replaced by Eder, perhaps indicating team doctors were aware the striker didn't feel 100 percent coming into the match.

Fabio Coentrao was forced to leave the pitch with a similar injury during Portugal's opening match against Germany, and Bleacher Report's injury expert Will Carroll couldn't help but wonder whether that was a coincidence or not:

At the time the change was made, Portugal were leading the USA 1-0, likely needing wins against both the Americans and Ghana to progress to the tournament's knockout stages.

Losing a substitution this early in the match is never a good thing, with the team's tactical options now much more limited. Even worse, conditions in Manaus are so difficult Italy and England were forced into protecting their players by making substitutions late in their match.

Portugal won't have that luxury following the loss of Postiga, and with the team already struggling with injuries, manager Paulo Bento's options off the bench just became even more limited.