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Four thoughts on Jozy Altidore, a scorer of blazing confidence

Aug 14, 2013, 5:58 PM EDT

Altidore 8

Jozy Altidore just keeps scoring, with a huge hat trick Wednesday, now having struck in a record five consecutive U.S. matches. A foursome of considerations on the recent Sunderland signing:

Altidore is guiding an exciting attack

Two weeks ago we were left to wonder if Clint Dempsey’s surprise move down the world soccer food chain might dilute his drive and subsequently dent the United States attack?

Today, after a reminder of who really is the main man of this mission, maybe a wee downgrade in form or production from Dempsey doesn’t seem so life-altering after all, does it?

Consider what the United States attack now has going for it: Altidore and his blazing confidence at the top, Dempsey lurking in behind, Donovan possibly coming inside from a wide position, Graham Zusi playmaking from the right side and Michael Bradley stitching it all together with his whip-smart blend of safe and adventurous passing.

Not too shabby, eh?

Now, about that back line …

The guy is scoring on free kicks now, too?

Clearly, the man who just moved from Holland’s AZ into a far more pricey neighborhood of the world’s game, Sunderland of the Premier League, has added to his substantial repertoire. A first half free kick wasn’t quite tall enough to evade the Bosnian wall Wednesday.

But Altidore made no mistake with his second attempt from free kick shooting range, placing a ball perfectly into the upper left corner for the third U.S. goal. With Zusi, Donovan and now, apparently, Altidore, the United States has great options on restarts going forward.

The records are falling

Altidore is the first U.S. man to score in five consecutive matches. Remember, that’s a streak that started against none other than Germany, among the World Cup favs. Yes, three of the opponents in this run of scoring fun were CONCACAF teams – but those were in final stage World Cup qualifiers, which means it was the best of the region.

Besides, to begin the streak and end it (well, “end it” for now) against quality European competition stamps this one with a sure legitimacy.

Don’t forget Klinsmann’s man management in all this

It deserves to be said one more time: Klinsmann gets a lot of credit here. He wanted – scratch that, he “demanded” – that Altidore bring out the best in himself. Klinsmann wisely sensed a dangerous sense of satisfaction 14 months ago, a hint of complacency. So he left Altidore back in Europe for those two World Cup qualifiers last fall, dismissing the howls from fans and media, confident in an improved end product.

Clearly, the message was heard. Clearly, Altidore responded perfectly. The dividends are rolling in nicely now.

(MORE: What we learned from Wednesday’s win in Sarajevo)

(MORE: Jozy Altidore hat trick steers U.S. to comeback win)

  1. tammyinlalaland - Aug 14, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    that forth point seems off… JK was furious at Jozy over whatever happened in June 2012 camp and said so publicly. I don’t remember it being complacency as much as personality clashes

  2. tonyinquakeland - Aug 14, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Point four is nonsense. JK left Altidore out of critical qualifiers strictly because he felt insulted by a twitter remark. Klinsmann had actually praised Altidore’s work at the previous camp, then suddenly claimed he left him outfor a lack of work ethic. It was transparently a personality issue.

    That said, he is now making sure Altidore is getting support and service, and the results are clear.

    • Steve Davis - Aug 14, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      Well, Tammy and Tony, I suppose I am at a huge disadvantage … because I actually talk to Jurgen Klinsmann. He has addressed that very point with me (and a small group of reporters) twice in person, and at great length.

      So I don’t have to rely on guesswork and supposition from outside voice who are just guessing and supposing. NO, JK wasn’t “furious,” He was disappointed, and he wanted more. I spent a bunch of time with the team in and around that 2012 camp, and others were just lapping Altidore.

      Tony, sorry … you’re wrong. Unless you just think Klinsmann is a liar. That Twitter thing had nothing to do with anything. Klinsmann couldn’t care less about Twitter (barring something truly silly). It was always about work ethic, fitness and a perception that Altidore wasn’t pushing himself enough.

      • leightoncopley - Aug 14, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        Well put, Steve. People continue to hate on JK. Seems everyone heard of the comments from a 27 year old’s (at the time) autobiography. Remember a 27 year wrote a book about himself. hahaha. Klinsmann will be truly judged by how we perform next year in Brazil and some of the player development he, hopefully, leaves behind. He does deserve, at the very least, a little bit of credit at present.

      • wfjackson3 - Aug 14, 2013 at 9:09 PM

        Well said, Steve. Now any guesses on when Timmy will start flying again?

      • tonyinquakeland - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM

        Sure steve, because coaches always tell the truth when talking to journalists, right? You asked him if he acted out of spite, and he assured you he didn’t. So case closed?

        Of course in October 2012, JK said that Jozy wasn’t asked in because of “certain things that happened in the May June camp”. Yet in June, he had this to say:

        “Every day he’s getting a little bit better. You can see that in every training session. We help him, help him, and we work on it. He’s working hard. He’s positive about it.”

        So…was he truthful both times? Praise after the June camp and suddenly the June camp is a problem when he was justifying a decision?

        Klinsmann was actually my favorite player when he was active and I was delighted when we hired him. But a year in a half of inconsistent selection criteria, conservative tactics and on field confusion soured me on him as a coach. Now over the last few months he has evolved. He seems to trust his players more and he has dumped the three d-mid appraoch and added more attacking width. And in Jozy’s specific case, he has FINALLY stopped using him as an isolated holding forward and let’s him attack the defense with the ball at his feet –exactly how he has always been successful.

        But instead of writing about a guy who seems to have taken a step forward, you are arguing that the faults were never really there.

      • 77cjh77 - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        Mr. Davis, you really find it so hard to believe that Jurgen might have told you one thing that wasn’t entirely true to save face? Because, you know, no one has ever done that before. Surely you can’t be that naive.

  3. danielofthedale - Aug 14, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Is Jozy now the most important player for the US in terms of making it out of the group next Summer? I think he is as it looks like he wi be guy bringing the scoring boots to Brazil.

    • schmutzdeck - Aug 14, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      Jozy hasn’t changed that much. The team got better around him and is using him better.

      It is an 11 man game.

  4. talgrath - Aug 14, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    If keeps this up, Altidore could surpass Donovan’s scoring record while Donovan is still playing for the USMNT.

    • tonyinquakeland - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      If he doesn’t surpass it eventually, it will be a major disappointment.., but Donovan doesn’t appear to be willing to concede just yet. :-)

  5. Andrew Marcinko - Aug 14, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Comment section smackdown going on in here. It’s brutal!

    My problem is how much impact a holdup forward like Altidore can have against better teams. B/H was good, but not great, and their defense was their weakest link. If the midfield starts to get overrun, it’s not going to matter how amazing Altidore is playing. While elite midfielders and defenders always factor into games, an elite holding forward can be completely nullified without support.

    Granted, it’s awesome that I’m worried about how the USA is going to beat top 10 teams.

    • boscoesworld - Aug 17, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      I believe schmutzdeck above was spot on about this. It is not so much that Jozy has changed that much but the supporting cast has gotten that much better!! The old attack by going in reverse has gone in reverse if you know what I mean.

  6. schmutzdeck - Aug 14, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    My four points:

    1. Now you know why JK wasn’t mad about Clint’s move.

    2. I hope this stops the burgeoning “ Charlie Davies for 2014” movement

    3. I hope the USMNT players continue being so lightly regarded by the pundits and the fans.

    4. I hope JK’s “tactical skills” continue being so lightly regarded by the pundits and the fans.

  7. lyleoross - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Some truly amazing comments here. I will refer some posters to the changes that have occurred in the squad across the board under JK, not to mention the direct changes he’s made during matches, that have resulted in great things.

    Even if we ignore all of that, the simple fact is that if you know the sport, and what has happened on the world stage, then you know that JK has been successful in taking us down a better path than we are on. To do so in such short order, and given that the overall structure of our youth system does not support that structure yet, speaks volumes.

    Go back and look at Jozy during the last World Cup. He was a lumbering giant with one skill, slowly building up to speed, in one direction, and hoping to receive the ball in the clear. Exactly what you’d expect given the long ball, highly defensive style of play he was coming out of. Yet somehow he has turned into a fairly tactile player with what appears to be a great touch on the fly. JK deserves some credit for that. How much is a question, but you have to acknowledge that the system JK is using supports a more dynamic style of play up front. Without that, you don’t see any of the production we’ve seen from Jozy or Landon. You see the disappointing squad we saw at the last World Cup.

    • boscoesworld - Aug 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Well said indeed!!

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