By Ronald Blum AP Sports Writer
SAO PAULO — U.S. forward Jozy Altidore will miss Sunday’s World Cup game against Portugal because of his strained left hamstring.
Altidore was hurt in the 21st minute of Monday’s 2-1 victory over Ghana.
“It’s bad news, but I think the team will handle this,” midfielder Jermaine Jones said Thursday. “We have to handle that.”
U.S. team spokesman Michael Kammarman did not reveal the severity of the strain but said Thursday the Americans remain hopeful Altidore can return at some point during the tournament. The U.S. completes the first round against three-time World Cup champion Germany on June 26.
“We’re extremely bummed for him and the team, but we bring 23 players and so this is just a chance for somebody to step up,” midfielder Kyle Beckerman said.
Aron Johannsson replaced Altidore for the second half against Ghana. Chris Wondolowski is the other striker on the squad who could join Clint Dempsey in the attack.
“I would say there’s a lot of similarities,” Beckerman said of Johannsson and Wondolowski. “They both help the team in offense, defense. They do a lot of stuff that’s not on the stat sheet. They’re both tricky with the ball, and they both have a nose for the goal.”
Johannsson, a 23-year-old who was born in Mobile, Alabama, and grew up in Iceland, scored 26 goals last season for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Wondolowski, a 31-year-old Californian, led Major League Soccer with 18 regular-season goals in 2010 and 27 in 2012, and tied for the lead with 16 in 2011.
“Wondo is more the finisher in the box,” Jones said. “Aron is more maybe the guy who’s good with the ball and tries to go one against one.”
Meanwhile, Dempsey has not decided whether he will wear a mask to protect his nose, which was broken during the Ghana game by John Boye’s shin to his face during a battle for a header in the 31st minute.
Defender Matt Besler, who left the Ghana match at halftime because of a sore right hamstring, should be available for Sunday’s game in Manaus, Brazil, Kammarman said.