*Striker Jozy Altidore has been cleared by the U.S. national team medical staff to resume workouts, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Tuesday morning, and Coach Juergen Klinsmann is optimistic he will be available for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in San Jose.
Altidore’s absence from the Sunderland lineup over the weekend with a hamstring injury set off a panic among supporters in the States: Could the hat-trick master from the Bosnia friendly and scorer in five consecutive matches miss the Costa Rica trip and perhaps the Mexico match in Columbus next week?
Whether Altidore starts remains to be seen. The mystery of his status will keep the Ticos on their toes — frost-bitten toes, no doubt, judging from their incessant whining about the snowbound qualifier in Denver way back in March.
Just the idea that Altidore might play will serve as a distraction — mind game leading to the actual game.
If Altidore is feeling strong, we’ll see him Friday. The slightest tightness and discomfort, however, should keep him sidelined. Klinsmann needs him at full strength, not 75 percent, for Mexico. If that is the case, it’s best to let him heal. Besides, like many of his teammates, Altidore is carrying a yellow card and risks suspension for next week’s match. Worst-case scenario: A subpar Altidore aggravates the injury — or is carded — in a loss at Costa Rica.
If Altidore were to sit out, who would step in? Eddie “Pay Me” Johnson is in good form and has qualifying experience. Clint Dempsey is best playing deeper in the attack but capable of filling a striker role — a move that would allow Klinsmann to tap into his deep midfield for attacking reinforcement. And then there is Aron Johannsson, a natural target man with good feet but with only one international appearance behind him.
For now, though, it appears Altidore is in Klinsmann’s plans for Friday’s match.
The Americans will train in the Miami area today before chartering to San Jose — an early arrival to acclimate and, Klinsmann said, “let them know the U.S. team is in town.”
TV reminder: beIN Sport owns the rights to almost all U.S. away qualifiers. Coverage of the Costa Rica match will begin at 10 p.m. ET on the English channel and repeat at 1 a.m. on the Spanish channel.
Looking way ahead: Scotland is close to announcing a friendly against the USA at Hampden Park in November — one of two U.S. friendlies in Europe during that FIFA fixture window. Austria is believed to be the other opponent.
*While the men’s squad will face Mexico in a qualifier next week in Columbus, the women are preparing for a friendly against Mexico tonight at RFK Stadium in Washington. Kickoff is at 8:10 p.m. Coverage on Fox Sports 1 begins at 8 o’clock with J.P. Dellacamera handling play by play.
The one-off game three days after the NWSL championship prevented an extended training camp. Tom Sermanni conducted one light training session Monday and plans to test the young players on the 18-woman squad.
“It is always hard, particularly with this short of a tunnel up to the game, to make definitive statements, but we are bringing players in to take a look at them, and the best place to look at players is during game time. My aim, whether it works out or not, is to give game time to the new players brought in.”
Among the prospects is University of Virginia junior midfielder Morgan Brian, the youngest player on the team. My profile of Brian, which appeared online and in the print edition, is available here.
*Video from the Virginia men’s 2-0 victory over St. John’s last night at Klockner Stadium.
*The Columbus Crew’s decision to fire Robert Warzycha (8-13-5 this year, 70-59-41 in almost five seasons) marked the third head coaching change in MLS this year — and probably the final one until the offseason.
– Jose Luis Real replaced Jose Luis Sanchez Sola at Chivas USA in late May.
– Mark Watson succeeded Frank Yallop at San Jose in early June.