By Mary Cunningham
Jozy Altidore left the U. S. World Cup opener against Ghana after straining his left hamstring in the 21st minute of yesterday’s 2-1 win against Ghana, leaving his status for the remainder of the World Cup in question.
The 24-year-old forward was running down a ball with Ghana’s John Boye when he lowered his head to attempt to control it, grabbed the back of his left leg and fell to the ground. He was expected to be re-evaluated today at the team’s training headquarters in Sao Paulo.
“It was a little bit of a shock that Jozy got injured,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “It was a tough pill to swallow.”
Wincing in pain, Altidore was taken off on a stretcher and replaced two minutes later by Aron Johannsson.
“My heart goes out to him because he’s been working hard,” said captain Clint Dempsey, the Americans’ other starting forward. “He’s been looking sharp. You know how much he wanted to do well. … You could see the tears in his eyes going back to the locker room. We wish him a speedy recovery. He’s a big player for us. It hurts to have him go out of the game today but other players have to step up now.”
Dempsey also left the game briefly after being kicked in the nose later in the first half, but he returned. He said later he thought he broke his nose.
John Brooks, who scored the game-winner on a header in the 86th minute, replaced central defender Matt Besler to start the second half after Besler experienced tightness in his right hamstring.
“We had to take him out because we didn’t want to risk another injury,” Klinsmann said. “So it was a grind but it was a wonderful one at the end of the day.”