Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore Step Forward as U.S. Team Is Set Back

But the interplay of Altidore and Wood was a clear positive to come out of the Mexico match, and Klinsmann did not hesitate to make clear on Monday that he sees the partnership as crucial. With the status of the veteran forward Clint Dempsey uncertain as he deals with an irregular heartbeat, Klinsmann said there was an obvious difference between what he sees from Altidore and Wood and what he sees from other forwards who might be hoping to crack the United States lineup.

“We have to be honest about that,” Klinsmann said. “The others know, too — there is a gap to Jozy and to Bobby right now.”

The rest of Klinsmann’s tactical choices, however, are less straightforward. In the aftermath of the Mexico defeat, Klinsmann has been skewered by fans and some in the news media for using an unusual formation at the start of the game, only to change it after about 25 minutes — once the Americans were already trailing by a goal and it was clear the team was flailing.

Jozy Altidore, left, of the United States, as Mexico celebrated its World Cup qualifier win on Friday. The play of Altidore and Bobby…

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