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Updates on injuries have begun to surface a couple of days following the FIFA World Cup opening games for Group G. The United States Men’s Team (USMNT) appeared to suffer the most severe injuries in the game against Ghana. However, the status of Cristiano Ronaldo is still making headlines each day.
The USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is still awaiting the results from an MRI done on forward Jozy Altidore. Altidore fell in the first half of the victory over Ghana with a strained hamstring and had to be carried off of the pitch. Knowing how severe the injury is the question now. Klinsmann knows that the chance Altidore would be available for Sunday’s game against Portugal is slim, but the coach is optimistic. There is that chance the forward could be available for the final group game against Germany and potentially for games in the knockout round if the US can survive the match against Portugal. Altidore’s teammate Matt Besler left the game at halftime with a tightness to his hamstring and also underwent testing. Klinsmann announced today that the central defender will be ready for Sunday.
Clint Dempsey scored the sixth fastest goal in World Cup history to open the game against Ghana, and then later in the game suffered a kick to the face that broke the USMNT captain’s nose. Dempsey did continue the full 90 minutes of play, but did admit that the broken nose did affect his breathing. There is a chance that Dempsey will wear a face guard for the Portugal game.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo left training early on Wednesday again with the superstar’s left knee packed in ice. Ronaldo had declared himself fully fit and ready for the World Cup prior to the devastating loss to Germany. Now the question has arisen if the knee issues the forward has struggled with during the professional season and international friendlies leading up to Brazil is more severe than indicated. The status of Ronaldo is only one injury issue affecting Portugal. Defender Fabio Coentrao is out for the remainder of the tournament with an injury to the thigh received in the second half of Monday’s game. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio and forward Hugo Almeida may not be available for Sunday’s game due to injuries.
To add to Portugal’s troubles from injuries, defender Pepe will not be available for Sunday’s game after head butting Germany’s Thomas Müller. This drew the first red card for a Group G team and would make Pepe unavailable for the next match against the USA. FIFA is reviewing the foul and may upgrade the single game ban to three matches. FIFA is expected to issue an update on Pepe’s status soon. However, a three game ban would end the defender’s World Cup if Portugal fails to advance out of group play.
The dominant German team was not immune from the injury bug that has hit the group. Defender Mats Hummels suffered a right thigh contusion in the Portugal game that was causing some bleeding into the muscle. The German’s status for the next match against Ghana will depend on how quickly the defender can heal. Along with Hummels, teammate Jerome Boateng was also injured, tearing ligaments in his right hand. Boateng is not expected to miss the next match, however will likely be wearing a special brace on his hand. With the injuries, head coach Joachim Löw has little doubt that the German National Team will have trouble with the Black Stars.
Escaping the injury bug, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) have faced numerous inquiries about a revolt by the Black Stars against head coach Kwesi Appiah following the teams 1-2 loss to the USMNT. The African team canceled a scheduled press conference Tuesday which led to speculation of a player revolt. The GFA emphatically has denied a mutiny by players and the entire 23-man squad was at Tuesday’s practice. After knocking the USMNT out of the previous two World Cup tournaments, and looking to at least draw against the American team until a late goal took any points away from Ghana, the GFA has assured the media that the team is focused on the game against Germany and not dwelling on the loss to the USA.
The second round of games for Group G gets underway on Saturday, June 21 with Germany and Ghana. Germany will be looking to move to six points in the group standings while Ghana will be trying to salvage any points. The next day the USMNT will meet the ailing Portugal squad. The game is a must win for both teams, and while it is likely the US will be without the injured Altidore, the team should match up well with the struggling Portugal team. Additional updates on injuries are expected to be announced as the games get closer.
Commentary by Carl Auer