Jozy Altidore Twitter Page (@JozyAltidore)
The English must think that the Americans are crazy putting so much trust in Jozy Altidore for our Men’s National Team. And what may we, as Americans, offer in rebuttal? Should we say that he just needs time to warm up? Do we say that he’s not surrounded by talent such as Landon Donovan or Michael Bradley to feed him the ball – and it’s his club Sunderland’s fault? At what point do we just give up and say that Altidore maybe isn’t up to the task of the highest caliber of football?
To highlight this point of the English thinking about Altidore, refer back to the NBC Sports coverage of the EPL leading up to the season. There was a preview show that featured many celebrity fans of the EPL giving the new American fans a bit of a primer on the wondrous new league we would all be treated to. And then, when they were giving the history of some of the Americans playing in the league, they referred to Altidore specifically.
It was then that one of the show’s guests said one of the truest things I’d heard about a player I followed regularly. And it was a hard truth. He said Jozy Altidore has the “worst second touch in football”. If Altidore doesn’t score on the first volley, it’s not going to happen.
It was kind of a bold move openly criticizing a beloved American player in a forum meant for American fans. But think about it. Is Altidore successful in USMNT play simply because he has Donovan spotting the ball perfectly for him? How often does he really create his own shot? Can he dribble the ball through traffic for more than five yards.
After a lot of soul searching – and youtube clips – we may need to face the fact that America’s best threat at forward in Brazil really is Jozy Altidore. And that’s a bad thing. Look back at the video of Altidore’s now famous goal against Germany in the friendly they played against the U.S. That goal was only scored because Graham Zusi delivered the ball to the very spot that Altidore was standing – and Altidore only touched it once.
Is there really something to this English conspiracy?
Whether or not Altidore is great in international play – or simply surrounded by great talent – there is a problem with Altidore in league play. And the English fans certainly have a justification in their complaints about our American export.
Altidore’s first foray into the EPL came back in 2009 when he joined Hull City on loan. In 28 league appearances during that campaign, Altidore scored only once. ”He was too young,” people said. ”That wasn’t the right fit for his stage of development”. The explanations were aplenty – and yet he still produced for the national squad, so it must’ve been the league’s fault, right?
Fast forward to the 13/14 EPL season, and Altidore has once again earned himself an invitation to play in one of the three great leagues in the world. And again he’s found himself in a lesser side, but he’s been called upon specifically to bolster the side. He wasn’t a fill-in player this time, he was the major signing. With his international resume and his 38 goals over 2 years in the Netherlands, surely this older version of Altidore was ready for the big stage.
But he isn’t. Not yet.
What we’ve seen in Altidore’s time at Sunderland has been ugly. Sure, there was that fascist manager that got fired. And it was a lower ranked team with a lower budget that he joined. But after 8 matches and only 1 point for the club, a lot of the blame for the lack of scoring has to be placed on Altidore’s shoulders.
Altidore has appeared in 7 games this year, just twice as a sub, and has over 500 minutes of play time. And as of yet, he has no goals and no assists. His passing accuracy in the final third is 62.5%. But the most telling stat, he has 5 dribble attempts – and not one has been successful. There’s that second touch the English say he doesn’t have.
If Sunderland had any other option, I’m sure they would have played that card by now. But Altidore is on an island. He’s trotted out week after week – and he continues to fail with no real plan on how to change the situation.
This hurts the American fans because nobody wants to see a decimated striker with no self-confidence when the World Cup rolls around. But what else is there to do? Can Altidore pull out of this dive?
And do we all do what we did after his first stint in the EPL? It was easy to blame the team and the league when Altidore was still a kid. But that’s a hard argument to make now.
Even the British are mocking him to our faces – and I still can’t think of a comeback. Can you?