The U.S. soccer team will be missing second-leading scorer Jozy Altidore for its World Cup group game against Portugal in two days after the striker strained a hamstring in a 2-1 victory against Ghana.
Altidore pulled up while running down a long pass from Michael Bradley and was replaced in the 21st minute of the June 16 game against Ghana.
If he has avoided a more serious tear, Altidore could return before the elimination round, said Alexis Colvin, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
“The recovery can be usually no longer than a week,” Colvin said in a telephone interview this week. “In a muscle injury alone, when a tendon is not involved, that almost never requires surgery to be repaired. It will heal on its own with rest.”
The U.S.’s final group game is against Germany on June 26 in Recife. The Americans are tied with Germany at three points atop the Group G standings. The top two teams in each group move on to the round of 16.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound (1.85-meter, 79-kilogram) Altidore, who plays for Sunderland in the English Premier League, scored in a U.S. team-record five straight games last year, and has a career tally of 21 goals for the national team.
His most notable international goal came in a 2-0 win against Spain in the semifinals of the 2009 Confederations Cup. Altidore used his size to shield the ball from a defender, turned his body and beat the Spanish goalie with a shot from 18 yards (16 meters) to put the U.S. up 1-0.
Altidore’s reliance on physicality over speed won’t affect the use of his hamstrings or his recovery, Colvin said. Nor will the heat and humidity in Brazil, she added.
“Hamstring flexibility will factor into his recovery, but that isn’t affected by the weather or the altitude,” she said.
U.S. captain Clint Dempsey (36 goals) is the only player on the roster with more goals than Altidore. Aron Johannsson replaced Altidore against Ghana. The 23-year-old striker has two career goals for the national team.
Dempsey, 31, said he thought he broke his nose in the first half against Ghana and is available to play against Portugal.
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