Altidore to start for U.S. against England
No secrets here, Jozy Altidore will start against England.
Altidore sprained his right ankle June 2 during training, and missed last week's exhibition win over Australia. He resumed full training Tuesday, but coach Bob Bradley said Friday that the staff always felt Altidore's injury was "minor." Bradley made the initial announcement about Altidore during a radio interview - quite a contrast to England coach Fabio Capello, who said he won't disclose his starting lineup until two hours before Saturday night's kickoff.
"I got asked the question and I just felt at that point Jozy is starting," Bradley said after the U.S. team's training session at Royal Bafokeng Stadium. "I thought we could give one name out.
"There will be no more," he said, smiling as reporters laughed.
Altidore, the United States' most experienced forward, has been running at full speed in training and was dribbling a ball as he trotted onto the field for Friday night's session. He jogged a few laps around the field with the rest of the team during the 15 minutes of practice open to reporters, showing no signs of tenderness.
When an errant ball came his way, he brushed it aside easily with a back tap of his right heel.
"Jozy's missed just a couple of days of training," Bradley said. "It was always our sense it was a minor injury."
Altidore scored his ninth goal in 25 international appearances against Turkey in the U.S. send-off game last month. He had two goals for Hull last season in the English Premier League while on loan from Spain's Villarreal. But the season ended on a sour note. Not only was Hull relegated, but Altidore missed the last two games of the season after drawing a red card April 24 for head-butting Sunderland's Alan Hutton, who had thrown the ball at him.
"The one thing I would always say about Jozy, from our experiences with him, when he's come into camps he's shown that, when things don't come easily, it's helped him," Bradley said. "He comes in with a level of determination and ready to prove himself. He knows we believe in him. That's why he continues to be important for us."
It's no secret Wayne Rooney is the most important player for England, and some have suggested the Americans should try to rile up the mercurial forward to throw him off his game. Rooney drew a yellow card in a meaningless tune-up Monday after swearing at a referee, prompting the officiating crew for Saturday's match to brush up on English-language curse words. He also was ejected during the last World Cup after stomping on the groin of an opposing player.
But that isn't the way the Americans play, Bradley said.
"We respect him as a player," Bradley said. "He's experienced, a competitor. We don't have anything else other than to try and compete at the same level he plays at. ... Our ability to keep track of him and make life hard for him is a key part of us making sure we can win."