SEOUL—In the unlikely event that Antonio Oliveira has had trouble sleeping lately because of concern over what sort of World Cup threat the United States will pose, Portugal's coach can rest easy now.
There is an excellent chance that the 11 American players who will take the field Wednesday night in the Seoul suburb of Suwon will never have played together as a team.
Claudio Reyna to set up the goals and Clint Mathis to score them.
On Monday afternoon, Reyna said he considered his chances of playing "no better than 50-50" because of a strained right thigh muscle. That pessimistic assessment raised Coach Bruce Arena's eyebrows an inch or so when he heard Reyna's honest answer.
Mathis, meanwhile, practiced only briefly Monday before being carted off for an MRI on his left knee, which is causing him discomfort. The striker tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee several years ago, just as he'd torn the right ACL exactly a year ago on Wednesday.
Monday's scan proved negative, Arena said, but Mathis still is considered a questionable starter.
Arena came here without a clear-cut and experienced replacement for injured Chris Armas in defensive midfield, and his outside backs, Tony Sanneh and David Regis, have inspired little confidence. Now, the injuries to Reyna and Mathis, and the loss of form of several other players, could prompt Arena to shuffle players around just to cover the deficiencies in his lineup.
The possible loss of Reyna for one or more games is especially bad news.
"I'm upset," Reyna said. "I'd rather not be injured. I'd rather be doing everything 100%. But that's the reality. I've dealt with it before. Every team has injured players.
"Me and Clint, at the moment, are the guys who are a little bit banged up The worst-case scenario, I think, would be just missing one game and being ready for the next two.
"I still have all day today and tomorrow to get treatment, and hopefully if it responds and if tomorrow night at training I can do everything to help the team Wednesday, then I'll play.
"But I wouldn't put myself in any danger. I think it wouldn't help the team if I'm not 100% or even, say, 90%. I think I can only just damage myself and not really help the team."
Mathis' access to the media was controlled Monday. He was quickly escorted past reporters in the "mixed zone" area set up at the team's hotel without being allowed to comment on his injury.
Arena and Reyna gave conflicting answers when asked about Mathis' status.
"He practiced briefly today," Arena said. "We took a precautionary MRI and found nothing. So he is fine. He had a little inflammation, and we just wanted to make sure he was OK. I'm glad to say it went well, and it is not a concern."
"He and I are really in the same boat, where it's about a 50-50 [chance of playing]," the U.S. team captain said.
Mathis has been touted as the likely breakout player for the U.S. at the World Cup, the one who would do well enough to secure a move to a European club. In recent weeks, he has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and profiled in the New York Times magazine and TV Guide.
He has also been the only player this year who has been able to spark the U.S. offense. If he cannot play against Portugal and if out-of-form Brian McBride is not selected, Arena's forwards on Wednesday could be Joe-Max Moore and Josh Wolff, or even Landon Donovan.