United States national team depth chart: Jozy Altidore changed the striker equation with a month of “Wow!”
Jun 26, 2013, 7:10 PM EDT
Five U.S. matches over the last month has generated significant movement on the U.S. depth chart – perhaps more shuffling than in any month-long stretch in Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge, which is now approaching two years.
Over the last few days we have examined the U.S. depth chart, making our best educated guesses at how things stack up on Jurgen Klinsmann’s big board inside the manager’s Southern California offices.
Next up: STRIKERS
How different would a listing of U.S. strikers looked just six weeks ago?
Jozy Altidore looks so firmly in place today, it’s hard to remember how tenuous was his hold on the top striker spot before that oh-so-telling four game stretch. A month of “Wow!” saw the AZ man plant his flag and work it into the ground, but good.
Score a goal in four consecutive games at international level and you have seriously rung the bell of achievement. In Altidore’s case, he removed all doubt that, at 23 years old, the starting striker position is his to lose ahead of Brazil 2014.
It’s not just the goals, either. Altidore is finding useful ways to be involved, drawing praise from teammates not only for infectious confidence but for his running at defenders, for the neat-o combo interaction with Clint Dempsey and others, for the tough-nosed hold-up play, for chasing defenders, etc.
As I asked in this piece, where would the United States be in World Cup qualifying without his timely and technical contributions? (As some of you clevers responded, “They’d be Mexico.” Brilliant!)
As with the other current U.S. locked-in men – Michael Bradley and Dempsey, specifically – the depth chart situation leans significantly to the unsettled side once past the no-questions-asked starter of the moment.
We could have a good debate about whether Herculez Gomez or Eddie Johnson is slotted in at No. 2. Only Klinsmann could say for sure – and he does tend to value Gomez’s work rate and ability on the “little things.”
Terrence Boyd has the raw talent, but with so little inexperience at any high level he’s probably not a factor beyond late-game sub at this point. Boyd is 22; he’ll be in a much better spot at age 26 by the time Moscow 2016 rolls around.
The wild-card scenario that seems worth talking about – unlikely as it might be, with several dominoes needing to fall, but intriguing enough to discuss – is this:
If Stuart Holden or Landon Donovan round into past versions of themselves, that gives Jurgen Klinsmann another great option to work beneath a striker. If that happened, and if Altidore were to get hurt or lose form (it does happen with strikers, after all), we could see Dempsey move 20 yards forward in positioning and become the primary striker.
No, that is hardly Dempsey’s best spot, and it’s probably not even worth listing him in the striker options if Altidore remains healthy. Then again, seeing such a thing happen isn’t such a wild stretch, either.
U.S. STRIKER ordering
- 1. Jozy Altidore
- 2. Herculez Gomez
- 3. Eddie Johnson
- 4. Terrence Boyd
- 5. Alan Gordon
- 6. Chris Wondolowski
Jul 23, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT
German boss reveals he will stay on as manager until at least 2016. Can you smell a dynasty?
Jul 23, 2014, 10:18 AM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT
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Jul 23, 2014, 8:07 AM EDT
Cole: “People were killing me about possibly playing in the USA, saying it’s for the money and easy lifestyle, I choose to play in a more demanding place and team.”
Jul 23, 2014, 7:38 AM EDT
Van Gaal: “You have to fly a lot, you also have jetlag – that is not very positive for a good preparation. The tour was already arranged so I have to adapt.”
Jul 22, 2014, 11:34 PM EDT
Business up front. Defense in the rear.
Jul 22, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT
L.A. Galaxy Insider report also speculates that Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez could take a Designated Player spot in Major League Soccer if he leaves Old Trafford.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:45 PM EDT
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Jul 22, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT
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Jul 22, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT
Shaw speaks to PST: “Manchester United are the biggest club in the world. I didn’t think twice when they wanted to sign me.”
Jul 22, 2014, 8:39 PM EDT
When a guy many consider a footballing genius gives the United States coach praise, that’s a pretty cool feather in Klinsmann’s cap.
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