SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
On Friday, the United States men’s national team plays its seventh of ten games in the final stage of World Cup qualifying against Costa Rica.
Here are five urgent questions heading into the game:
Is Jozy Altidore ready to go?
The young target man, newly of Sunderland, is recovering from a hamstring injury. After getting an MRI in Miami upon joining the team, he was given the go-ahead by the medical staff. But how effective he will be, and how durable, remains to be seen.
His importance can hardly be overstated. There is no other striker available who is so proficient at holding up the ball and getting the adjoining attackers involved. And Altidore has scored in his last five USA games, a record, tallying seven goals in all.
Image courtesy of AP Images
Who will play right back?
Steve Cherundolo is still out with an injury. Timmy Chandler is unavailable too. And Brad Evans, who has played in the spot most recently, was a late scratch from the team because of a calf injury. He was replaced on the roster by Michael Parkhurst, but he, like fellow candidate Geoff Cameron isn’t a natural at the right back position.
Both have their limitations going forward. And both are fourth-stringers at best.