HARTBEESPOORT, South Africa -- Jozy Altidore injured his ankle in training last week, but the 20-year-old striker will start against England on Saturday. United States Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley confirmed the news at a press conference after the American's final training session before his charges take on the Three Lions in each side's World Cup opener.
"Jozy is starting," the manager said. "I thought we could give one name out."
Altidore, who missed the squad's final warm-up match against Australia, will bolster an improving attack. He could play up top by himself in a 4-5-1 or start alongside Real Salt Lake revelation Robbie Findley as part of a two-man front. The duo demonstrated an affinity for playing alongside one another in the 36 minutes they shared against Turkey. Bradley will also likely turn to either Edson Buddle or Herculez Gomez (or both) in the latter stages of the match. Should Altidore labor with his ankle injury, the in-from Los Angeles Galaxy striker may come on at the half.
Although the Americans enter the match as underdogs, they believe they can emerge victorious.
"Inside our camp we have a confidence that we’ll go out there tomorrow and we’re going to give them a good game, all they can handle, and hopefully go out there and get the three points," Carlos Bocanegra said.
The team's belief in itself stems from strong play at the Confederations Cup, a recuperating side, and a never-say-die attitude the players displayed once again when coming back from a goal down against the Crescent Stars in Philadelphia. The Stars and Stripes, bolstered by fitness coach Pierre Barrieu's training regimen, believe they can outwork any challenger and will set about proving that point in Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
The Americans, picked by Vice President Joe Biden to defeat the Brits, know their opponents well. Many of them play, or have played, in the English Premier League and they are prepared for the strengths and weaknesses of their adversaries.
Of course, this works both ways.
“It’s no secret really between the two teams,” Bocanegra said. “We’re familiar with each other.”
Noah Davis (@noahedavis) covers the United States Men's National Team for Goal.com and is reporting from the World Cup in South Africa.