world cup notebook

Jozy Altidore won’t play for US vs. Portugal

Jozy Altidore
Toru Hanai/REUTERS
Jozy Altidore was hurt in the opening game against Ghana.

US forward Jozy Altidore will miss Sunday’s World Cup game against Portugal because of his strained left hamstring.

Altidore was hurt in the 21st minute of Monday’s 2-1 win over Ghana.

‘‘It’s bad news, but I think the team will handle this,’’ midfielder Jermaine Jones said Thursday. ‘‘We have to handle that.’’


US team spokesman Michael Kammarman did not reveal the severity of the strain but said Thursday the Americans were hopeful Altidore can return at some point during the tournament. The US completes the first round against three-time champion Germany on June 26.

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‘‘We’re extremely bummed for him and the team, but we bring 23 players and so this is just a chance for somebody to step up,’’ midfielder Kyle Beckerman said.

Aron Johannsson replaced Altidore for the second half against Ghana. Chris Wondolowski is the other striker in the squad who could join Clint Dempsey in the attack.

Johannsson, a 23-year-old who was born in Mobile, Ala., and grew up in Iceland, scored 26 goals last season for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Wondolowski, a 31-year-old Californian, led Major League Soccer with 18 regular-season goals in 2010 and 27 in 2012, and tied for lead with 16 in 2011.

Dempsey has not decided whether he will wear a mask to protect his nose, which was broken during the Ghana game by John Boye’s shin during a battle for a header in the 31st minute.


Defender Matt Besler, who left the Ghana match at halftime because of a sore right hamstring, should be available for Sunday’s game in Manaus, Kammarman said.

Full steam ahead

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli needed little more than 20 minutes of practice inside Arena Pernambuco in Recife to reaffirm his belief that FIFA should grant timeouts for players during Friday’s Group D match against Costa Rica.

The climate in Recife, a coastal city about 8 degrees latitude south of the equator, ‘‘is not normal,’’ Prandelli said. ‘‘It can change in 10 minutes.’’

Prandelli said he had staff monitoring the conditions during practice, adding that during a 20-minute span, conditions went from about 77 degrees with 57 percent humidity to nearly 104 degrees with 70 percent humidity. Various weather reports available online indicated that the high temperature settled at nearly 86 degrees. Forecasts are calling for rain and temperatures approaching 86 degrees again.

‘‘We’re ready. We don’t have any more excuses,’’ Prandelli said. ‘‘The climate doesn’t scare us anymore.”


Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and center back Andrea Barzagli remain in doubt for Friday’s match. Buffon twisted his left ankle and knee before the Azzurri’s opening game. Barzagli was held out of training Wednesday due to a tendinitis problem that bothered him all season with Juventus.

FIFA talks security lapse

FIFA acknowledged being embarrassed by a security lapse that let ticketless Chile fans rampage into the Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janeiro. Fences have been breached by fans at both World Cup matches staged at the country’s biggest and most prestigious stadium, which hosts the final on July 13. ‘‘It is embarrassing,’’ FIFA director of security Ralf Mutschke said, one day after dozens of ticketless Chile fans broke into the sold-out venue ahead of their team’s 2-0 win against Spain . . . The Brazilian football federation said hackers momentarily took down its website on Thursday. The federation said technicians were still trying to identify those responsible for the attack and it didn’t think the attack was related to the national team’s performance in the World Cup.

French have agenda

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld made no secret about his tactics heading into Switzerland’s potentially decisive clash with France: Solid defending and quick counterattacks. Whoever wins in Salvador on Friday will take a major step toward clinching the top spot in Group E, and probably avoid Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the second round. ‘‘It’s a derby,’’ Hitzfeld said. ‘‘We have to be firm in the defense and react quickly on counter strikes.’’ . . . Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez confirmed that Jorge Claros will replace the suspended Wilson Palacios, and said there would be more changes but they would only be announced before the start of Friday’s Group E match against Ecuador in Curitiba.