Featured Matches
Previous
Germany
Argentina
ESPNDeportes Sep 3, 2014 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Czech Republic
United States
Sep 3, 2014 6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
England
Norway
Sep 3, 2014 7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Philadelphia Union
Toronto FC
Sep 3, 2014 11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New England Revolution
Sporting Kansas City
Sep 3, 2014 11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chivas USA
Seattle Sounders FC
Sep 3, 2014 2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Crewe Alexandra
Rochdale
0
2
LIVE 86'
Game Details
Oldham Athletic
Bradford City
0
0
LIVE 84'
Game Details
Accrington Stanley
Carlisle United
1
3
LIVE 71'
Game Details
Barnsley
York City
1
0
LIVE 65'
Game Details
Fleetwood Town
Morecambe
1
2
LIVE 69'
Game Details
Notts County
Mansfield Town
2
0
LIVE 70'
Game Details
Preston North End
Shrewsbury Town
1
0
LIVE 68'
Game Details
Scunthorpe United
Chesterfield
2
0
LIVE 68'
Game Details
AFC Wimbledon
Southend United
1
2
LIVE 67'
Game Details
Cheltenham Town
Oxford United
1
0
LIVE 70'
Game Details
Crawley Town
Cambridge United
1
0
LIVE 71'
Game Details
Peterborough United
Leyton Orient
1
3
LIVE 69'
Game Details
Stevenage
Gillingham
0
1
LIVE 69'
Game Details
Wycombe Wanderers
Coventry City
0
1
LIVE 70'
Game Details
Yeovil Town
Portsmouth
0
1
LIVE 68'
Game Details
Ballymena
Institute
0
1
LIVE HT
Game Details
Cliftonville
Linfield
0
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
Coleraine
Crusaders
0
2
LIVE HT
Game Details
Dungannon Swifts
Warrenpoint Town
0
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
Glenavon
Ballinamallard Utd
0
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
Glentoran
Portadown
1
1
LIVE HT
Game Details
Sp. Belgrano
Huracán
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlético Tucumán
Temperley
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
ABC
CR Vasco da Gama
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Goianiense
Boa MG
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Paraná Clube
Sampaio Correa-MA
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Portuguesa de Desportos
Joinville
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Next

No recent activity

Jeff Carls Posted by Jeff Carlisle
Jun 19, 2014

Filling in for Jozy Altidore: Three potential replacements

RECIFE, Brazil -- From the moment Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 23-man roster on May 22, among the bigger concerns was what the U.S. would do if striker Jozy Altidore got injured.

With the news that Altidore is officially out of Sunday's match against Portugal after suffering a strained left hamstring Monday against Ghana, that fear has been realized.

It must be said, Klinsmann's decision not to include a like-for-like replacement for Altidore on the roster was a head-scratcher that has morphed into a blunder. Given the strength of the Americans' Group G opponents, possession was always going to be a struggle. That concern was borne out against Ghana, who owned the ball for vast stretches of Monday's encounter. Altidore's ability to provide an outlet, hold the ball up, and link with teammates was expected to be a partial antidote to that weakness.

In his absence, Aron Johannsson -- who, to be fair, is a different kind of player than Altidore -- struggled to provide those attributes. Had Klinsmann included Terrence Boyd or Eddie Johnson, he wouldn't be in this predicament. But the roster deadline has long since passed, and now the U.S. and Klinsmann must find a solution.

In terms of options, Klinsmann has a few, though none of them are anywhere near ideal. One is to go 4-3-3 with Johannsson as the central striker, Clint Dempsey on one wing and Graham Zusi or Alejandro Bedoya on the other. It's a position that Johannsson has played at club level, which would give him a greater level of comfort. It might also serve to spare Dempsey and his broken nose from too many entanglements with hulking central defenders.

A big problem with this is that the U.S. has rarely played such a formation, and there just doesn't seem to be time to gain enough familiarity and cohesion before Sunday.

Another is to deploy Dempsey as the lone striker and use Zusi or Mix Diskerud as an extra midfielder. It's an intriguing idea in theory. A player like Zusi, whose strengths lie on the creative side, might be able to help the U.S. maintain possession better. But the U.S. has struggled with such an alignment in the past in that the midfield didn't always provide the needed level of support for Altidore. The result was that he was often stranded with no one to pass the ball to. Given Dempsey's broken nose -- which may affect his breathing and hence his stamina -- that option seems even less palatable.

Aron Johannsson, left, and Chris Wondolowski, right, are the most likely options to replace Jozy Altidore at striker.

That means Klinsmann likely will opt for a two-striker alignment, and it would seem he has three choices. Persist with Johannsson, bring in Chris Wondolowski, or turn to Diskerud with explicit instructions that he stay close to Dempsey.

If Johannsson is the choice, then it might be advisable for him and Dempsey to swap the respective roles they filled against Ghana, or at least alternate for stretches. Johannsson is not a back-to-goal kind of player. Neither is Dempsey, of course, and the downside is that you are taking away one of his best attributes, namely running at defenders.

But Dempsey has filled that role at times in the past for both club and country when need arose, and he performs the task better than any of the remaining forwards on the U.S. roster. Playing in support of Dempsey would allow Johannsson to face up to goal and threaten either off the dribble or with a pass.

Dempsey and Wondolowski were paired up in April's 2-2 draw against Mexico, with the latter player scoring the U.S. side's second goal in that match. It was a game that also saw Wondolowski link up well with his teammates, though his primary attributes remain his clever movement and nose for goal.

Diskerud is an interesting choice in that he's the best passer out of the three. If he can be disciplined enough to stay close to Dempsey, it might go a long way toward helping the U.S. keep the ball better.

Granted, it won't matter whom Klinsmann puts up top alongside Dempsey if the rest of the U.S. lineup doesn't do a better job of keeping possession. While that responsibility lies primarily on the midfield, the back line will need to be more precise with its distribution out of the back as well. That said, Diskerud's inclusion seems a long shot. The more logical choice comes down to Johannsson or Wondolowski, with the AZ striker's greater technical ability giving him a slight edge. Both figure to see the field against Portugal. At that point, it will be revealed if the U.S. can make the best of a difficult situation.

Jeff Carlisle

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. He has covered the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups for ESPN in Germany, South Africa and Brazil, respectively. Follow him on Twitter @jeffreycarlisle.