The injury that kept Jozy Altidore out of nearly the entire 2014 FIFA World Cup apparently was more severe than his team let on.
The striker told ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” radio show Thursday that he suffered a Grade 2 hamstring tear — not a hamstring strain — during the first half of Team USA’s tournament-opening win over Ghana.
Altidore went on to say that although he was cleared and dressed for Tuesday’s Round of 16 game against Belgium, which the USA lost 2-1 in extra time, he was not fully ready to play.
“The timetable to come back was realistically very late in the tournament,” Altidore said. “I honestly thought I was going to be able to help the team sooner rather than later, but it just wasn’t to be. It was a target of mine obviously when I first got injured to try and get back in that game, but as it turned out, when it got there, it was still a bit early.”
Altidore, who was expected to be one of the USA’s top offensive weapons along with Clint Dempsey, played a grand total of 20 minutes in Brazil. Now, after watching the final three rounds of the tournament from home, the 24-year-old can’t help but view it as a wasted opportunity.
“I was disappointed immediately because I know how big of an opportunity it is and how great it is to play in the World Cup, so the first couple of days were really tough for me,” Altidore said. “I had such high expectations for my team and for myself. I was really excited about the opportunity of playing against some of the world’s best players and making my mark, but, at the same time, everything happens for a reason and I am committed to getting better and being a player on this team that can take us to the next level.”