BOSTON (CBS) – For United States soccer fans the opportunity to test your team’s chops against Portugal and the world’s best player in Cristiano Ronaldo presented a unique challenge, but now the odds of that happening are lessened with each and every report of a left knee injury to the 29-year-old.
The injury kept him out of a recent international friendly at Gillette Stadium and limited his effectiveness in a disastrous 4-0 loss to Germany in Portugal’s opening match. Ronaldo limped off the practice field on Wednesday, and now reports are surfacing that he was warned prior to the tournament that playing through the injury could put his career in jeopardy.
New York Times columnist Juliet Macur called in to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show Thursday morning to preview the USA-Portugal game and she’s very skeptical about the injury to Ronaldo.
She’s not convinced it’s as serious as it’s being made out to be.
“I think it’s questionable with what’s going on with Ronaldo. Maybe he senses that Portugal is not going to win, so maybe he’s feeling sicker than usual,” said a sarcastic Macur. “The US has a great chance to beat Portugal. Portugal lost in the first round pretty badly to Germany 4-0. Ronaldo is questionable and their other star Pepe headbutted Thomas Mueller of Germany in the first game and he’s out of this game. This is a perfect chance for the US to win and advance.”
From the outside looking in it appears the stars are aligning for the US Men’s National Team and this notion of playing in “the group of death” is a thing of the past.
The USMNT defeated Ghana in their must-win opening match, and now face a depleted Portugal team without their best defender, Pepe, and a Cristiano Ronaldo at less than his best, or perhaps not at all. Not to mention a draw vs. the Portuguese could be enough to advance.
Clint Dempsey will play on Sunday with a broken nose and Macur described him as “one of the most intense people I’ve ever met.” She’s curious to see how he’ll go up for headers given his injury.
It’s also been reported that Jozy Altidore (hamstring) will not play against Portugal.
Listen below for the full discussion: