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June 3, 2010
Altidore's ankle problems resurface with mild sprain during U.S. training

By Michael Lewis Editor

Jozy Altidore suffered a mild right ankle sprain. Will it come back to haunt him at the World Cup?
Jozy Altidore suffered a mild right ankle sprain. Will it come back to haunt him at the World Cup?
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Will Jozy Altidore's latest ankle injury be similar to the first one he suffered in 2008 and chronically plagued him as it did two years ago?

Or will he shake off the right ankle sprain he suffered during U.S. National Team practice on Wednesday?

The former Red Bulls forward certainly gave the U.S. National Team a major scare Wednesday when he suffered a mild right ankle sprain in practice in Irene, South Africa, it was discovered Thursday.

The 20-year-old Altidore was taken to the hospital, where he needed X-Rays, which turned out to be negative.

Altidore, who is considered the Americans' best scoring threat up front for the World Cup, injured his ankle during training on a shortened field.

He was listed as day to day and will undergo a fitness test to determine his availability for Saturday's friendly against Australia in Roodeport in the final exhibition match for both sides prior to the World Cup.

ďItís nothing more than that,Ē U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe said Thursday.

A word of caution or two about Altidore: he has suffered from ankle problems before that would not go away.

Exactly two years to the day on Wednesday, he suffered a bruised left ankle while he was knocked down by striker Juan Pablo Angel while both players battled for the ball during a Red Bulls practice in Montclair State University on June 2, 2008.

The Red Bulls downplayed the injury at the time, even though Altidore, who was in pain, was taken off the field by team trainer Rick Guter and an assistant. His left sneaker was taken off for the ankle to be examined and was driven to the Red Bulls clubhouse in a golf cart.

Several days later, Altidore was transferred to Villarreal of Spain's La Liga for an American-record $10 million.

Two months later at the Beijing Olympics, Altidore admitted the ankle still was a problem.

"It bothers me," he said at the time. "It bothers me every day. It's getting better and better."

Thatís not to say the same scenario will happen this time. But at the pro, international and World Cup level, some teams donít necessarily give full injury reports, especially when the enemy is within earshot.

The Americans are already down two experienced forwards.

The speedy Charlie Davies, the former Westchester Flames forward who was the revelation of last year's FIFA Confederation Cup in South Africa, still isn't fit after suffering near fatal injuries as a passenger in a car accident last October. Brian Ching isn't at full throttle despite returning from hamstring problems although he scored the lone goal for the Houston Dynamo in its 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Wednesday night.

If, for some reason Altidore injured himself more than he thought, coach Bob Bradley has the option of declaring him unfit to play in the World Cup and bring in another forward as long as it is done a day prior to the first game of the World Cup. The replacement player does not have to be selected from the 30-man preliminary list.

Other possibilities up front for the Americans include Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez.
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