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Jozy Altidore nets third hat-trick for AZ this season

Apr 15, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT

FC Den Bosch v AZ Alkmaar - Dutch Cup Getty Images

AZ striker Jozy Altidore bagged his third hat-trick of the Eredivisie season on Sunday during his club’s 6-0 smashfest of nine-man FC Utrecht. The triple brings Altidore’s overall total to 28 goals and his league total to 21, both new single-season records for an American in a European top flight.

The U.S. striker opened his tab from the spot in the 28th minute before doubling his total with another penalty just six minutes later. Three minutes after that Altidore had his hat-trick when he rose to head home a cross and sent Utrecht packing. With the win, AZ snapped a four-match drought at home and moved six points clear of the relegation zone.

While banging home a hat-trick in nine minutes is never a bad thing, Jozy’s feat highlights the discrepancy between his play for club and country. It’s growing increasingly frustrating to watch Altidore rip off goals for AZ yet appear helpless for the Nats. From an American fan perspective it can almost feel personal – If Jozy can score at will in Holland why can’t he do so for the National Team?

Sure, fans don’t expect him to run rampant against quality CONCACAF opponents like Mexico, Costa Rica or Honduras but against countries like Canada and Antigua & Barbuda, Altidore should be dominating. But it’s not happening. In fact, in the last seven World Cup Qualifying matches that the 23 year old has played (four of which he started) he’s failed to score and only managed three shots on target.

Of course, Altidore’s poor form for the Yanks is anything but personal. His form at AZ is due in large part to the squad’s three-pronged, wide spread, attacking style of play. Opposed to the isolated, back-to-goal role that Altidore is constantly given with the USMNT, he is afforded near limitless freedom and support at AZ. The Dutch club’s style, formation and mentality allows Altidore to run at defenders, creatively link up with teammates and crash the box from behind the play.

At the end of the day it’s difficult to compare club football in Holland to international football within the CONCACAF. But in a country where Altidore’s play is constantly under a microscope, it’s worth nothing that although Jurgen Klinsmann originally expressed his desire to implement an attack-minded approach (similar to that of AZ), it has yet to actually materialize.

  1. goonah4life - Apr 15, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Very good point!

    I’ve always loved Altidore as a player and have grown tired of the incessant criticism of him in the US. It is difficult for any forward to play when he is often isolated as a lone striker. While Klinsmann has often talked about bringing an attacking attitude to the USMNT that has yet to materialize, and until he does so I think the criticism of Altidore would be much better off directed elsewhere.

  2. bigdinla - Apr 15, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Have been screaming this for years. The holding forward is such a waste of Altidore’s talent. Just like pure DM is a waste of Bradley.

  3. tylerbetts - Apr 15, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Does Jozy actually have “poor form” with the National Team? I’d argue the answer is no.

    Steve Davis recently had a good piece on Strikers who do everything well – except nab a goal. But, that kind of misses the point. Sure, if you only watch Sportscenter to consumer your soccer, you are of the opinion that the only things that matter are goals and amazing saves. Yet, I’d hope there are a growing number of us who know better.

    Jozy does what he’s supposed to do in this setup. As this piece states, for club, Jozy is given free reign to run, be creative, and attack. But, that’s NOT his role with country. His role with country is to play a hold-up role and make sure he can help fascilitate the team attack. Sure, it’d be great for him to score a bit more often, but it’d also be great if his midfield could serve him balls that put him 1-on-1 with the keeper.

    But, let’s look beyond the lack of scoring. Jozy had a perfect set up for Dempsey’s game winning goal against Italy. Does he get ANY credit for that? Not really. Jozy, generally, has done a nice job of becoming more physical and using his size to his advantage to help the US impose their general will. Does he get much credit for that? Not really.

    There’s a HUGE difference between a striker not scoring and a striker having poor form. But they are not the exact same thing.

  4. overtherepermanently - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Is it time to finally evolve the US formation to support Altidore’s skill set? Sadly, I don’t know if we are there yet, but maybe if Gatt and Shea develop as wingers it will be possible.

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