Jones OK to play despite broken nose
SAO PAULO -- Despite breaking his nose on Thursday during a collision with teammate Alejandro Bedoya in the second half of Germany's 1-0 victory in Group G, U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones will be OK to play and could be joined by striker Jozy Altidore, who is nearing recovery for an ailing hamstring.
"Jermaine Jones does have a broken nose," U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman said on Friday after the team trained in Sao Paulo. "He will not wear a mask for Tuesday's game [against Belgium]. He looks unaffected -- you can't even see any discolorations. It appears to be a minor fracture. He's fine, he's available to play."
Kammarman said both players were tested for concussion symptoms on the field, after the game, on Thursday night and again on Friday morning. There was no indication either player had suffered a concussion, according to Kammarman.
Altidore was running at training on Friday for the third straight day and continues to improve.
"We are very optimistic," Klinsmann said when asked whether Altidore might be ready to play Tuesday against Belgium. "Every day is a big step forward for Jozy. "It's 11 days now [since he got injured] and it's looking better every day, so we're optimistic to have him being part of the Belgium game."
Germany beat the U.S. on Thursday on Thomas Muller's 55th-minute goal, but the Americans advanced as runners-up when Portugal defeated Ghana 2-1 during a game played simultaneously in Brasilia.
"I don't remember really good what happened," Jones, who lay on the ground for two minutes after the collision on Thursday, told Yahoo! Sports. "Whether it was head-on-head or head-on-shoulder I don't know. The feeling is that it is broken, but we will have to see when we come back to Sao Paulo what is going on with my nose. If I try to breathe now, I have no chance to breathe. I feel that it is broken, but we will see what the doctor will say. But you have to go into battle. It is one against one."
Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson were both sporting black eyes -- Dempsey broke his nose in the Americans' World Cup opener vs. Ghana, and Johnson took an elbow during the U.S.'s 2-2 draw vs. Portugal.
The U.S. team has muscled through injuries. It lost Altidore just 21 minutes into the tournament with a hamstring injury. Defender Matt Besler, midfielder Bedoya (hip) and untold others are still hurting -- the word is other injuries have gone unreported in Brazil.
"It was a grind for sure," said Besler, who was pulled halfway through that first match against Ghana with a sore hamstring before returning to go the distance in the games against Portugal and Germany. "All three games were tough physically. I think it took a little bit of a toll on everybody. There was a lot of ups and downs -- that's what it's about."
U.S. INTO THE ROUND OF 16
- Doug McIntyre: Battered, bruised, through
- Jeff Carlisle: U.S. grades
- Chris Jones: U.S. ride their luck
- Klinsmann: "Now we really get started"
- Will the perception of U.S. soccer change?
- Tactics Board: Organized U.S. restrict Germany
- Social media: Reaction to U.S. progress
Bedoya told Yahoo! Sports: "My head just hit his nose, so I am not surprised it is broken."
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann adjusted his starters for Thursday's match. Omar Gonzalez replaced Geoff Cameron in central defense, and Bedoya, who came on as a second-half substitute, was spelled by Brad Davis on the left wing. Even more lineup changes could be on the way when the U.S. meet Group H winner Belgium in their round of 16 match Tuesday in Salvador (4 p.m. ET, ESPN and WatchESPN).
Bedoya also reported getting hit in the head during the second half.
"I don't even know what hit me. I just felt something on the back of my head," Bedoya told Yahoo! Sports. "It was just a weird collision. I had the ball and I kind of knew what I had to do next. I didn't see him actually. We just collided, and I guess it looks pretty bad on television. I just got hit in the head, but I am doing all right."
The Germans, three-time World Cup champions, finished with seven points, while the U.S. had four after allowing a 94th-minute goal against Portugal on Sunday in a 2-2 draw. Portugal also had four, but the Americans advanced from a so-called group of death because their goal difference was even and the Portuguese were minus-3.
"You can see everybody gives 100 percent for this team," said Jones, who joked that at least his nose, while swollen, was still straight. "It doesn't matter if you broke your nose, if you have [black] eyes. Today the coach made some switches, and the guys that came were right there to fight for the team. That's important."
Klinsmann said Jones is "so important to us and to the entire team because he has this never-die attitude. ... Jermaine is who he is. He's a warrior, and he showed that again."
The U.S. coach also made it clear that every one of his 23 players (except possibly Altidore and his strained left hamstring) must be prepared to step in.
"We don't have the luxury to say that all the players are going to go every four days and always be on the highest level," he said. "Down the road you will have always these players coming in, and they have to do their job."