Skip to content

About Jozy Altidore’s move to Sunderland: this is ALL about soccer

Jul 9, 2013, 5:20 PM EST

Sunderland city

I’ve been to Sunderland. The people were warm – but the weather wasn’t.

The Stadium of Light is a lovely place – but it’s across the river from a town that is fairly, well, un-lovely, truth be known. A seaside resort town, it is not.

I was dispatched by American Way Magazine a few years ago to generate a feature-length story on the “relegation battle,” a concept most Americans know nothing about. So I went to Sunderland and spent a couple of days there around a match against Wigan, another side that never could quite move beyond swinging distance of the relegation dagger.

(Due to a hotel mix-up and a lack of rooms, I also had the unique experience of spending my last night at a $28 room on Sunderland’s gritty seaside. But that’s another story.)

(MORE: Altidore signing with Sunderland becomes official)

What I wrote about the city (with a population roughly equal to Anchorage, Alaska, or Lexington, Kentucky) in the article:

Sunderland (population 290,000) sits along England’s right flank in the industrial northeast. Here, and in many of this area’s midsize cities, the decline of heavy industry has struck like an economic hammer. Reductions in shipbuilding and coal mining have cost the Sunderland region about 30,000 jobs over the last couple decades or so, rendering the economy as grim as a crime scene.

 … The weather can be equally bleak. The average high temperature in December, January, and February is 42 degrees Fahrenheit. The frequent thick fog ensures a wet, cold draping and near-constant heavy-sweater weather.”

So I sat in places like the Roker Avenue pub or the Fort and shared beers with the locals. I learned about why they call Sunderland’s team the Mackems. (Well, they are only theories, really.) I heard the jokes about the hated team from neighboring Newcastle. I watched the grimaces as proud supporters told tales of “devastation” felt with Sunderland’s tumble down into the lower tiers, some from men who showed me the club’s badge tattooed over their heart.

I came to better understand how, in places like this, so much of the town’s collective self-image is tethered to soccer.

What I also wrote about the place Altidore will soon land:

So Sunderlanders live for their team. What else is there? Sunderland is to English football what Green Bay is to American football: a scrappy little bruiser of a city that manages through sports to keep fast company with the wealthy boys of the neighborhood.”

So, this is all about soccer for the U.S. striker. Altidore’s first professional stop was in the United States’ largest media market.

source:

He moved to Spain, attempting to catch playing time in Villarreal along Spain’s sunny coast.

Even at Alkmaar, Altidore was spending his time off the field in a charming little Dutch town (pictured at right), just outside of Amsterdam and lined with picturesque canals.

I’m not saying any of those moves were about the scene … just saying that they weren’t notoriously lacking in glamour, either. Call it a “bonus.”

In moving to Sunderland, the man can scarcely be accused of looking for anything close to glamour or pretty things.  It’s about the opportunity for playing time in one of the world’s best leagues – and the aesthetics away from training ground clearly don’t matter.

Far more fashionable London may be calling one day. But for this day Altidore’s mind is clearly wrapped around his professional soccer career.

Latest Posts
  1. Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Atsu and Bony lead Ghana, Ivory Coast into semis

    Feb 1, 2015, 6:52 PM EST

    Wilfried Bony, Fode Camara AP

    It was a day for Premier League players to shine as both Christian Atsu and Wilfried Bony tallied twice to help lead their sides into the final four.

  2. Koeman on Southampton loss: “Luckiest team won today”

    Feb 1, 2015, 6:00 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Saints’ boss believes Swansea City may have had a bit of luck on their side as they defeated Southampton 1-0.

  3. VIDEO: The best and worst from past transfer windows

    Feb 1, 2015, 5:10 PM EST

    Dennis Bergkamp AP

    Dennis Bergkamp became one of the most legendary Premier League players of all-time. Afonso Alves, not so much.

  4. Graziano Pelle sides with Diego Costa: “Kick before you receive”

    Feb 1, 2015, 4:20 PM EST

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    The Southampton man has shown sympathy for his fellow striker, saying sometimes you have to play a little dirty.

  5. Transfer Rumor Roundup: Spurs to snatch Laporte, Liverpool in for Reid

    Feb 1, 2015, 3:33 PM EST

    Laporte Getty Images

    Young Aymeric Laporte is a name we may see in the Premier League, if not this winter than possibly over the summer.

  6. VIDEO: Zlatan reduces local journalist to rubble in cringe-worthy interview

    Feb 1, 2015, 3:02 PM EST

    Zlatan AP

    “So you know football better than me?” Buckle up, this one’s painful. Just Zlatan being Zlatan.

  7. Aron Johannsson scored beautiful back-heel goal in AZ win

    Feb 1, 2015, 2:16 PM EST

    Johannsson Getty Images

    The American hasn’t been as prolific as last year, but he proved important today as AZ moved to fifth in the Eredivisie.

  8. Christian Atsu scores stunning tight-angle goal for Ghana

    Feb 1, 2015, 1:37 PM EST

    Atsu Getty Images

    The 23-year-old has a pair of goals today to bookend Ghana’s quarterfinal win, and the second was spectacular.

  9. Southampton 0-1 Swansea: Shelvey snatches win with sensational late strike

    Feb 1, 2015, 12:53 PM EST

    Shelvey Getty Images

    A stunner from Jonjo Shelvey saw Swansea surprisingly through after a lackluster first hour.

  10. VIDEO: Arsene Wenger proud of Arsenal in 5-0 win as Villa fought hard

    Feb 1, 2015, 12:08 PM EST

    Wenger Getty Images

    Arsene Wenger felt the scoreline may not have reflected the true nature of the game, and that the second goal was the key one in breaking down the visitors to the Emirates earlier today.

  11. Celtic cruises into League Cup final with 2-0 grinder over Rangers

    Feb 1, 2015, 11:22 AM EST

    Celtic Getty Images

    A pair of first-half goals saw Celtic through to the Scottish League Cup final over rivals Rangers.

  12. Watch Live: Southampton vs Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 1, 2015, 10:39 AM EST

    Southampton Getty Images

    Southampton can jump right back into the top three with a win against a struggling Swansea side at home.

  13. Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa: Gunners torch hapless Villa with deadly counters

    Feb 1, 2015, 10:21 AM EST

    Arsenal Getty Images

    Olivier Giroud opened things up inside 10 minutes and it was a sign of things to come as Aston Villa slumped to 612 minutes without a league goal.

  14. Knee problems strike again as Strootman back on the shelf for the season

    Feb 1, 2015, 9:03 AM EST

    Strootman Getty Images

    His ACL tear in the past, now a fresh injury concern has shelved the Dutch midfielder.

  15. Watch Live: Arsenal vs Aston Villa (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 1, 2015, 7:44 AM EST

    Ozil Getty Images

    Mesut Ozil starts in the middle in place of injured Alexis Sanchez as Aston Villa comes to the Emirates.

  16. Diego Costa maintains his innocence, says “I’ve not done anything wrong”

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:20 PM EST

    Diego Costa, Chelsea FC Getty Images

    Diego Costa has again claimed his own innocence. And you know what? I believe that he believes he’s done nothing wrong.

  17. Sam Allardyce: Liverpool “weren’t outstanding at all,” injuries downed West Ham

    Jan 31, 2015, 10:43 PM EST

    Sam Allardyce, West Ham United Sam Allardyce, West Ham United

    Big Sam was quick to take the credit away from Liverpool and place the blame for Saturday’s loss on his own injury “crisis.”

  18. Louis van Gaal: Manchester United “killed the game” with loss at Leicester City in mind

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:24 PM EST

    Louis van Gaal, Manchester United Louis van Gaal, Manchester United

    Van Gaal remembers what happened last time his side led Leicester, and he learns his lessons the first time.

  19. DONE DEAL: Seydou Doumbia to Roma headlines quiet Saturday for transfers

    Jan 31, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    Seydou Doumbia, CSKA Moscow Seydou Doumbia, CSKA Moscow

    All of the day’s confirmed, officially official transfer dealings from Saturday, Jan. 31.

  20. Africa Cup of Nations roundup: DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea into SF after wild day of events

    Jan 31, 2015, 7:27 PM EST

    Tunisia vs. Equatorial Guinea, AFCON 2015 Tunisia vs. Equatorial Guinea, AFCON 2015

    The actual games took a backseat to shenanigans as two of four semifinals places were booked on Saturday.

Featured video

Week 23: Premier League recap