U.S. forward Jozy Altidore cleared to play in World Cup game vs. Belgium

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

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SALVADOR, Brazil – Jozy Altidore has been medically cleared to play for the United States in its World Cup elimination game against Belgium on Tuesday.

Altidore strained his left hamstring while sprinting after a ball in the World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16. He was carried off the field in tears, but U.S. Soccer has consistently maintained optimism that he would again be available during this tournament.

Late last week the 6-foot-1, 24-year-old striker slowly jogged around the grounds of the U.S. base camp in Sao Paulo as his teammates practiced.

Altidore has struggled to find the back of the net of late, but his speed and physical presence is something the Americans can’t duplicate. Rather than replace him, the U.S. has gone with essentially just one forward, Clint Dempsey, and added an extra midfielder.

[Related: Get a peek into what Team USA does on off days]

While the team announced Altidore is “ready and available” to play after missing two games, questions about his fitness level remain. He likely will be a late-game substitution and isn't expected to start.

"We don’t know how much [Altidore will play] because we didn't see how things were going, but he's available. And this is what we wanted. This is what we hoped for," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.

"The medical staff has been working with Jozy and they have done a tremendous job, day and night. Just having him with us tomorrow is huge. But as for how many minutes, we'll see that during the game."

The U.S. plays Belgium on Tuesday afternoon (4 p.m. ET) in the round of 16. The victor will face the winner of Switzerland and Argentina on July 5.

Click on the image below for more photos of Jozy Altidore: