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Update: US striker Altidore ruled ready for Belgium

Published: June 29, 2014, 8:50 pm, by Scott Kaniewski
United States forward Jozy Altidore, left, works out with trainer Masa Sakihana during a training session in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

United States forward Jozy Altidore, left, works out with trainer Masa Sakihana during a training session in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

US Soccer reported Monday via Twitter that striker Jozy Altidore will be available for Tuesday’s round of 16 match between the United States and Belgium.

“@JozyAltidore is Ready (stet) and available for @J_Klinsmann (US coach Jurgen Klinsmann) and #USMNT tomorrow!” the tweet read at @ussoccer.

It doesn’t necessarily mean Altidore, who has been out with a hamstring injury since June 16, will start against Belgium. It doesn’t even really mean he will play. But if US coach Jurgen Klinsmann feels the need to put Altidore on the field, he can do it.

Two days earlier, an Associated Press report out of Brazil said not to expect Altidore to start against Belgium in Salvador, Brazil, in the first tround of the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Altidore trained by himself again on Saturday. Whether he sees any playing time coming off the bench would be another topic of conversation.

As the AP wrote:

“Jozy Altidore has trained on his own again, an indication the injured forward isn’t likely to start in the United States’ second-round World Cup game against Belgium next week.”

Altidore was injured midway through the first half of the United States’ 2-1 win over Ghana on June 16. In that game, Altidore looked sharp when he touched the ball and looked like he could be a threat. But the American forward, who’d struggled to score until netting a pair of goals against Nigeria in the Americans’ last tuneup game before the tournament, went to ground in the 21st minute clutching his left hamstring.

Hamstring injuries are tricky business. One wrong move and the injury could flare up and leave a player out for a lengthy spell. If US coach Jurgen Klinsmann needs a goal against Belgium late in Tuesday’s game, Klinsmann will have to weigh whether the US can afford to risk him re-injuring the hamstring against the possibility of him coming through with a game-tying goal.

United States striker Jozy Altidore holds his hand to his face as he lies on the pitch after pulling up injured against Ghana on  Monday. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

United States striker Jozy Altidore holds his hand to his face as he lies on the pitch after pulling up injured against Ghana. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

With Altidore not starting it gives Klinsmann the opportunity to watch the game develop. If the US are ahead or even late in the game, it wouldn’t be as necessary to bring Altidore on to the field.

Since the injury, Klinsmann has said the US hope to have Altidore back at some point during the tournament.

If Klinsmann is coy about his decision ahead of the game, a big indicator will be Altidore’s outfit of choice. In Thursday’s loss to Germany, the 24-year-old was dressed in street clothes. If Altidore warms up with the team for the game against Belgium, US fans will have their answer.

Join Scott Kaniewski at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday for a live chat throughout the duration of the United States’ round of 16 match with Belgium or follow him on Twitter at @scottkaniewski5 for running game commentary.