Clint Dempsey (left) is treated for a nose injury during the USA's FIFA World Cup match against Ghana at the Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014, in Natal, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- For the United States, two out of three might be good, but will it be good enough as it starts to prepare for a World Cup encounter with Portugal on Sunday?
After suffering injuries on Monday, two starters -- center back Matt Besler and forward Clint Dempsey -- were given the go-ahead by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to play for the Americans. Jozy Altidore, though, will have to wait a few days before a decision is made on when he can return to action.
The 24-year-old striker was forced to leave the USA's 2-1 win over Ghana with a strained left hamstring. He underwent an MRI along with Besler at a local hospital Tuesday.
Besler had tightness in his right hamstring and was replaced for precautionary reasons at halftime by John Brooks, who turned out to be the hero by connecting on an 86th-minute corner kick for the game-winning goal.
"Matt is no problem," Klinsmann said during a press conference at Sao Paulo FC. “All fine for the next game.”
Despite breaking his nose with a 33rd minute kick to the face, Dempsey also received the green light. The Seattle Sounders standout can wear a mask moving forward if necessary.
“Maybe he has the option of getting a mask on," Klinsmann commented. "Broken nose or not, I don’t know how much a mask can protect him. Whatever he feels good with. I think that with a broken nose - it was tricky during the game. It could barely breathe and he struggled with that."
Altidore's availability is another matter.
Klinsmann was hopeful that he would be available later in the tournament.
"We have to see how he reacts in the next couple of days with his hamstring," noted the past World Cup winner. "We are full of hope that he comes back still in this tournament. That’s what we are going to work on every day. The medical staff has done a tremendous job. We still have hope that Jozy will come back. How quickly? That is down to his healing process.”
Asked about his comments to Altidore after the Sunderland man was taken off the field, Klinsmann replied, “All you do as a coach is give him a positive hug and tell him listen you’ll be back and stay positive, you’ll be back.”
Of course, Klinsmann has a Plan B if Altidore cannot return for the Portugal game, but he wasn't going to divulge his strategy.
“I don’t want to go too deep into details," he said, "because obviously we want Portugal to guess a little bit as well, but you know when one of your key players is not available, does it change certain things? Absolutely it does. Jozy is a very strong key player in our group, so we’ll think about the right way to handle that situation. We’ll still field 11, you know, we’re not a man down. We still have somebody coming in and we’ll make it very, very difficult for Portugal in Manaus.
“We’ll find solutions.”