Jurgen Klinsmann is confident United States can cope with the absence of Jozy Altidore at the Copa America and could use this week’s friendly against Puerto Rico to test Bobby Wood.
Toronto striker Altidore recently picked up a hamstring injury that ruled him out of next month’s tournament, with Klinsmann admitting the absence of a man who has scored 34 goals in 93 international appearances represents a problem.
However, the German head coach believes Wood – who will join Hamburg from Union Berlin ahead of next season – could seize his chance.
“It’s a big blow for us and big blow for Jozy personally. He’s a very important player for us and not having him at the Copa America is sad. It makes it difficult for us,” Klinsmann said.
“To substitute a player like Jozy is very difficult. But this is normal in soccer, you have injury issues, maybe it is a red card or a lack of form. We’re going to find solutions.
“We’re happy to see other strikers right now being in a good form.
“Bobby made a huge step forward over the last 12-14 months, with his club as well as with the national team, so we hope he steps up at the Copa America.
“Clearly, it is a great message. It is something you want for every player that they learn step by step to break through to the next level.”
Puerto Rico, meanwhile, will use the game against USA to prepare for their upcoming Caribbean Cup qualifiers against Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda in June.
Interim coach Jack Stefanowski has called up eight uncapped players, including Jeremy Hall, who played for the USA at the Under-17 World Cup in 2005.
Former New York Red Bulls midfielder Manolo Sanchez could also make his debut against his country of birth.