The United States demolishing Scotland, 5-1, on Saturday was impressive for the scoreline and the manner in which the U.S. played, but maybe most impressive was that they did it without Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. Unfortunately for the U.S., it looks like both are unlikely to start on Wednesday against Brazil, although both will likely be options off of the bench.
Dempsey missed the end of Fulham's season with a groin injury and that same injury kept him out of the Scotland match. While he has improved and taken part in training, even he admits that he isn't fully fit yet.
"I think it would be a big ask for me to try and play 90 minutes tomorrow," said Dempsey at training on Tuesday.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that Altidore was still getting back in the swing of things and indicated it was unlikely he would start. Altidore was not released by his club, AZ Alkmaar, until Monday and like Dempsey, is not fully fit after taking a break following his club season.
Klinsmann expressed his dissatisfaction with AZ for not releasing Altidore before Monday, saying that it made him "very angry and it put Jozy in a very difficulty position"but there is nothing he could do about it. Now Altidore has to play catch up because the rest of the team has been training for almost two weeks now.
While playing without Dempsey and Altidore was not much of a problem against Scotland, Brazil is a whole other story. First of all, they have Thiago Silva in defense and second, the U.S. won't have the ball nearly as much as they did against the Scots. That means the U.S. will have to be more efficient in the attack and take the chances they get, something that Dempsey and Altidore do better than almost anyone else on the American team.
For more on the U.S. vs. Brazil friendly, check out the match's StoryStream, which has previews, as well as live and postgame coverage.