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Say this for U.S. striker Jozy Altidore: the guy gets it

Oct 9, 2012, 8:02 PM EDT

Altidore head shot

One more quick word about l’affair Altidore: (And, no, this is not just another excuse to use “l’affair Altidore,” although I have to admit, I do rather like it.)

In a telephone interview with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, Altidore sure sounds like a guy who understands the situation and isn’t about to sit around and brood about it.  As I’ve said before, Altidore always sounds like a sharp fellow, and this is another example. From Wahl’s piece:

I’m the student here. I’m the player and I’m learning always. It doesn’t matter if I don’t understand. I have to get on the same page as the boss and all the senior players, not the other way around. I’m not a guy who can walk into the team and say, ‘Guys, adjust to me.’ That’s not my mindset. I’m trying to get on the same page as them, and until I do that I’m sure I won’t be playing. I want to try and do that as quickly as possible. I want to score great goals for the national team and be dominant for them. But unfortunately it’s not so easy sometimes when the styles of play are much different.”

In the piece, Altidore also acknowledges that AZ Alkmaar’s choice hold him in the Netherlands for an extra week last summer, as Klinsmann held what he termed an important mini-camp, was damaging to his national team pursuits. That part is pretty interesting – especially since the U.S. forward’s short, forced estrangement was not his fault.

(MORE: the surprising overreaction on Altidore’s omission)

The important number to remember here is “22.” That’s Altidore’s age.

He could easily be assisting the United States qualification efforts for World Cup 2022 – and all points in between, obvioulsy – and could quite plausibly be in Qatar for that summer’s sun-sizzle of a tournament.

Keeping his cool about all this is the man’s best play, and he’s nailing it. Even at age 22, he seems to have a better perspective on this than quite a few fans and even a few writers or broadcasters.

It is, after all, just two matches. And like the team itself, the goal isn’t to play in Antigua or even in Kansas City on a cool October night – as awesome as the atmosphere promises to be next week at Livestrong Sporting Park.

The goal, of course, is to be in Brazil in the summer of 2014.

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Oct 9, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    It is not “just” two matches. Getting through to the hex is on the line here. Given the recent form of the team and the general lack of a cohesive midfield force, I am quite nervous. I’d prefer to have the best available players in camp for this match. I get that JK called in Gordon and Johnson for tactical purposes. I am just questioning those tactical purposes. If it comes down to playing long balls the last 10 minutes in a desperate bid to score and advance something went terribly, terribly wrong. I’d much rather have the better players at my disposal to help prevent that scenario from happening in the first place.

    • joeyt360 - Oct 10, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      I think the goal is to have the aerial ball as an option at all times, so that defenders hold to your target forward, so that your midfielders have a little space to play.

      • joeyt360 - Oct 10, 2012 at 5:12 PM

        I should add, part of Gordon and Johnson’s club achievements are giving Wondolowski and Montero some room to play.

    • schmutzdeck - Oct 10, 2012 at 6:54 PM

      I get your anxiety but the USMNT, even this depleted bunch, in terms of talent, should blow A & B and Guatemala off the planet.

      What is missing is all out “want to”. If everyone plays like Herc, we will destroy them.

      And doing this to Jozy sends that message NOW. ” I don’t care about your talent, I want guys who will die for the team.”

      Pretty simple.

  2. aboutlastnight7 - Oct 9, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    I’m with you on the timing, but if you are going to do something like this to send a message about effort and dedication, do you really want him to wait? I’d much rather send the message now, and we should have no trouble with these two games, then during the Hex because one of your players got complacent and expected their spot. I don’t like that he left him out at all, but if this is a move that you’re going to make now is the time.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 9, 2012 at 8:54 PM

      I’ve been hearing this the past couple days…”should have no trouble with these two games.” What about Klinsmann’s tenure gives the impression that this will be a cake walk? Things have not exactly gone well these first 4 matches.

  3. ezwriter69 - Oct 9, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Does Haiti have a team, maybe they’d like to have him play for them since he’s not wanted by Germany, er, the US.

  4. soccerjohn - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    I don’t know whether the move is right or wrong in an absolute sense. But I like the apparent motivation: JK seems to be playing for something bigger than wins vs A&B and Guatemala. It seems to me that he’s showing he’s not afraid of these upcoming games. I’d worry more about the USMNT if I thought the coach felt having an underperforming (on the MNT) striker in-house was vital to getting to the next round of qualifying. Folks, if the MNT can’t get sufficient points out of the next two games without Altidore, the US has bigger problems to solve.

  5. cdhoeger - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    There is something very inconsistent going on with Altidore’s attitude. Everything I have read and heard from him makes him sound classy, like he gets it, that he understands the need to work hard and earn everything. Yet this is the third time that a manager has sat him on the bench for attitude issues (Bradley, Verbeek, and now Klinsi). I really don’t know what to believe. I am a Jozy supporter, he’s been in electric form and my preferred USMNT lineup would include both him and Gomez as a strike partnership, but why is it that manager’s continue to feel the need to send him a “message”? His words seem to indicate that a message isn’t needed, that he can be an adult and act like an adult just by having a conversation with him. Does anybody have any insight on why this is going on?

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