Expectations for Jozy Altidore have always been high since beginning his professional career at age 16. Since then, Altidore has demonstrated scoring prowess but also suffered prolong scoring droughts. With a two goal performance in the last World Cup tune-up versus Nigeria, U.S. fans are hoping Altidore is about to fulfill his promise while propelling the U.S. deep in the World Cup.
After being a key member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup team, the former teenage phenom has been an inconsistent goal scorer full of promise. While performing well internationally in The Netherlands, Altidore was left off of the U.S. roster in 2012 for what U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann deemed to be lack of performance (as reported by The Guardian).
Then, the physical Altidore looked to have arrived in 2013, scoring in four straight international friendlies (including two World Cup Qualifier matches). But yet the club 2013/2014 season was full of frustration (one goal in 31 English Premier League appearances) for Altidore. Subsequently, he suffered a nearly eight month international scoreless streak until the match with Nigeria.
Despite these difficulties, many remain high on Altidore. As reported by Andrew Wiebbe of mlssoccer.com, Sunderland Manager Gus Poyet stated during a recent interview on “The Football Show” on SiriusXM FC 94 that he has the power and shooting ability. According to Poyet, Altidore just needed, “that momentum, that click that is going to be for him so important”. For U.S. fans, his performance against Nigeria is hopefully the start of that momentum.
Altidore’s Role without Landon Donovan
Klinsmann clearly believes in Altidore with his decision to include U.S. all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan on the World Cup roster. After Forward Clint Dempsey, Altidore is the most prolific international scorer for the U.S. With Klinsmann deploying a 4-3-2-1 formation versus Nigeria, Altidore is now the key offensive attacker.
Unfortunately for the U.S., they are locked in the dreaded Group G, also known as the “Group of Death”. Joining the U.S. is Germany, is one of the World Cup favorites. Also in the group is Ghana, who reached the quarterfinals in the 2010 World Cup, and Portugal, who reached the Round of 16 during the 2010 World Cup. With this group, just reaching the Knockout Stage could be considered a success.
The Altidore Difference
With his physicality and power, Altidore could be a difference-maker offensively. He can play over the top or work in front of the goal. With deft passers Dempsey and Midfielder Michael Bradley feeding him, Altidore must be the closer.
For the U.S. Team, hopefully Altidore’s breakthrough against Nigeria is the spark the 24 year old needs to take his game to the next level. Otherwise, it could be an early exit for the U.S.