SAO PAULO -- U.S. World Cup coach Jurgen Klinsmann boarded the team's flight to Manaus with a big decision to mull over: What is the best way to replace Jozy Altidore for Sunday's match against Portugal?

Altidore, the big, physical forward who draws defenders and opens space for teammates, strained his left hamstring early in the opening 2-1 victory over Ghana. He is unavailable for Sunday's match, and there is no striker on the roster with a similar build or style, so Klinsmann has to change the look of his attack.

There's a lot riding on his decision.

With a win over the Portuguese and reigning world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, the U.S. would accomplish two American firsts: reaching the knockout stage of consecutive World Cups and advancing with a game to spare.

Chris Wondolowski kicks the ball during the first day of training camp for U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team at Stanford, Calif., on Wednesday, May 14,
Chris Wondolowski kicks the ball during the first day of training camp for U.S. Men's National Soccer Team at Stanford, Calif., on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. First day of training camp for U.S. soccer team (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group) ( Josie Lepe )

"This is now the moment where you can prove yourself. This is the moment where you can step up and play those guys and put them in place," Klinsmann said. "So we want to put Cristiano and his team in his place."

When Ghana and Germany tied 2-2 on Saturday, the U.S. was suddenly in position to clinch advancement with a win Sunday. A victory over the fourth-ranked Portuguese would mean the U.S. could then win the group with a tie against Germany on Thursday.

"It just confirms what we all knew from the beginning on, that it's a very, very difficult group," he said. "It's a huge opportunity (Sunday) in Manaus, and we will definitely go for it."


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But it will be without Altidore, leaving Klinsmann with a few options. He can go with speedy Aron Johannsson, who scored 21 goals in the Dutch league. Klinsmann turned to Johansson when Altidore went down Monday night, and though he had trouble getting anything going against Ghana's physical defenders, he might have more luck against a depleted Portugal back line that will be missing the suspended Pepe and injured Fabio Coentrao.

Another option to replace Altidore up front is the opportunistic Chris Wondolowski, the Earthquakes fan favorite. He is not the biggest, quickest or most skilled forward of the U.S. bunch, but he can hold the ball well and has an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time and find the back of the net.

When Klinsmann named Wondolowski to the 30-man preliminary roster, he said: "It's always a pleasure to have him in camp. He is a competitor. He is determined. You give him a 1 percent chance, and he wants to make it 100 percent at the end of the day."

Johannsson and Wondolowski conceded that they cannot replicate Altidore's game but vowed, if called upon, to aid the U.S. attack in their own ways.

"Jozy is a special player," Wondolowski said. "You can't (just fill in one player for another). That's like saying, 'Hey, go be Cristiano Ronaldo.' You can't necessarily replace certain aspects of another player's game, but Aron and I bring different styles, different sets of skills that are useful, and what we have to do is incorporate those skills sets and also be able to fit into the game plan as well."

Teammates said they have faith in both forwards and that each brings something a little different to the attack.

"Wondo is a guy, I mean, he can score from anything," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "He can score when you think there's no chance and then next thing you know, he scores. He is also a guy that does so much for the team. He plays defense, he works his tail off for the guy behind him. He does a lot of things that don't show up on the stat sheet.

"Aron, he's a guy that does similar things. He's got this kind of attitude about scoring that he just kind of does it, and he feels like he has to do that. He's crafty, he's really tricky with the ball. They both have some pace that can get away and get their shot off from nothing as well. We're confident in them."

Then, of course, there is a chance that Klinsmann goes with neither Johannsson nor Wondolowski and opts instead to play five midfielders, with Clint Dempsey as a lone striker up top. He could put Jones and Beckerman in front of the back line as defensive mids, then have workhorses Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi manning the flanks, with Michael Bradley as more of an attacking midfielder delivering the ball.

The formation might also help cut off the passes to Portuguese superstar Ronaldo, who is expected to play despite nursing a bum knee and being slowed in training this week.

Beckerman said that no matter whom Klinsmann chooses to fill in for Altidore, it will take a team effort to get a second victory against a Portuguese club that is desperate after losing 4-0 to Germany in its opener.

"Any formation we play, it's going to take everybody watching each other's backs," Beckerman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SUNDAY'S MATCH

U.S. (1-0-0) vs. Portugal (0-1-0),
2:30 p.m. ESPN

GROUP G STANDINGS

Country GP W L T GF GA PTS
Germany 2 1 0 1 6 2 4
U.S. 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
Ghana 2 0 1 1 3 4 1
Portugal 1 0 1 0 0 4 0
Full standings, PAGE 8


THE REPLACEMENTS

The U.S. soccer team has two primary choices to replace the injured Jozy Altidore at striker for Sunday's match with Portugal:
Aron
Johannsson
Dutch league striker struggled as Altidore's sub in match vs. Ghana.
Chris
Wondolowski
Earthquakes star has an uncanny knack for finding the back of the net.