SAO PAULO - When the United States and Germany line up for their respective national anthems before their World Cup confrontation Thursday, Jozy Altidore won’t be able to stand with his teammates.
He will be on the sideline as a spectator, still recovering from his left hamstring strain. But if his team can earn at least a tie at Arena Pernambuco in Recife, the striker could have an opportunity to play in the Round of 16.
“Jozy is recovering really well,” USA national coach Jurgen Klinsmann said during a news conference Tuesday at Sao Paulo FC. “He’s doing a tremendous job. Our medical staff is on top of it. This game comes still too early for him, but we’re working on getting him back. Once this game is hopefully done successfully we’ll have a good chance to have him back in the team.”
For several American players who have dual nationalities such as midfielder Jermaine Jones, both anthems will be unique moments. Jones is the son of a German mother and an American father, having grown up in Germany and playing most of his career in the Bundesliga.
He is one of five German-based players on the USA team, along with defenders John Brooks, Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler and midfielder Julian Green.
“I always say that I’m proud of both countries,” Jones said. “I grew up in Germany. They give me a lot. There was my first step and I played there my first games and first leagues I played for Germany, so I can’t say some bad stuff.
“I’m still proud, too, when I hear the anthem from the United States. I will close my eyes and let everything go through and then after I try to make the game.”
Then the hard-nosed defensive midfielder will be all business. To put it mildly, Jones takes no prisoners with his relentless, physical play as evidenced in the 2-2 draw against Portugal on Sunday. He scored the Americans’ first goal, an impressive 26-yard blast, and received a yellow card later for his aggressive play.
Jones, 32, stressed he had no hard feelings against German coach Joachim Low, who left him off the Euro 2008 team. He earned his third and final cap for Germany in a friendly vs. England in November 2008 before former USA coach Bob Bradley recruited him in 2010. A player becomes cap-tied to a country when he plays in a FIFA-sanctioned competition at the senior level.
“It’s always hard, when you are so close to go to a big tournament and you feel that you’re in on that team,” Jones said. “The coach already told me that I will be a part of the team and then he skipped back. Of course I was upset but I have a nice family and they \[picked\] me up. I can’t say bad stuff about Germany. I have a lot of friends. Everything happens for a reason.”
Jones will leave those friendships behind Thursday. The USA and Germany, both at 1-0-1 and four points, need only a tie to advance.
“It’s not the point to be their friend, the point is to get to the next round,” Jones said. “That is the important stuff. We will try everything to win this game. We don’t go into this game and say maybe a draw happens, it will be enough. We want to go there and show people that we can battle and we can beat the German team.”