Will The U.S. Miss Altidore?
When striker Jozy Altidore pulled up lame with a strained hamstring in the United State's World Cup opener against Ghana, the hearts of most American soccer fans jumped up and lodged themselves firmly in their owners' throats.
Should they have, though? Should we really be as concerned as we are, now that Altidore has been ruled out of his side's next game against Portugal?
No. In fact, we should all calm down.
Jozy Altidore is a fine striker, but not on the U.S. National Team. On paper, without another pure striker to replace him on the pitch, his absence leaves a hole, but production wise, little will be missed without Altidore.
In truth, the team may actually pick up offensive speed without him.
For too long, this U.S. side has utilized an offensive strategy based largely on hope - put Altidore up high and throw long passes toward him in hopes that he can corral them, beat one defender, and score. The problem, though, is that Altidore's teammates are not skilled enough to provide precise service, and he is not skilled enough to control less than perfect passes.
With Altidore injured and the American's back-line defense their biggest weakness, it is time for Klinsmann and company to let go of that flawed game plan, and embrace one based more on possession and creativity - using the skills of your best players, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, and taking pressure off the team's defenders.
Really, it's been this time for a while, but there's no time like the present.