Skip to content

Jozy Altidore to captain the U.S. in Panama: Oh, what a difference a year makes

Oct 15, 2013, 7:49 PM EDT

FBL - WC2014 - QUALIFIER - USA - HON Getty Images

October 2012:

Jozy Altidore is a surprise omission from the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of crucial third round qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala.

After months of speculation as to why the AK Alkmaar star can’t replicate his club proclivity for his national team, the then 21-year-old is deemed surplus to Jurgen Klinsmann’s requirements. The omission sparks debate amongst U.S. fans and media, both regarding Altidore’s performance and as to whether the U.S. boss has gone too far.

Although the U.S. is not guaranteed to go through, Klinsmann has decided to tackle the round’s final qualifiers without his most talented number nine. It’s a gamble few would take.

October 2013:

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

Last fall’s debates are dead. The U.S. not only finished first in third round qualifying but replicated the feet in The Hex, winning CONCACAF’s final ground for the third cycle running. With a victory tonight in Panama City, the U.S. equal a Hex record for points (22, set by the U.S. and Mexico in 2006).  The team’s FIFA ranking is at its highest point since 2009.

On an individual level, Altidore’s undergone a similar rise. For Alkmaar, he’d finish the season with 31 all-competition goals (41 games), leading his club to the Dutch Cup. That performance earned him a move to the Premier League, where he’s won early praise with Sunderland despite going goalless for a struggling club.

At the international level, Alitdore’s scored six goals this year, bringing his career total to 21 (63 games). His hat trick in a 4-3 win at Bosnia capped a five-game scoring streak, a U.S. record. If armbands were based on performance alone, Altidore would have earned this honor.

But they’re not based on performance, though for Jurgen Klinsmann, that surely plays a part. It makes Altidore on for his squad’s key players. In addition, though, a captain has to exemplify what a coach wants from his squad. If anything can be read into today’s decision, it’s that Altidore, one year after failing to be called up for qualifying, has become one of Klinsmann’s standouts.

That’s a long journey to make in 12 months’ time, and both sides deserve a lot of credit. Few doubted Altidore’s ability or willingness to respond, and he has. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has reached new heights, more consistent.

Klinsmann also deserves a nod. He knew what needed to be done and, in the face of an unpopular decision, wasn’t afraid to do it. Perhaps that wasn’t the only way to get the most out of Altidore, but it’s difficult to argue with the results. By challenging him, Klinsmann’s made Altidore into CONCACAF’s most productive striker.

One step back has sent Jozy sprinting forward, progress Klinsmann acknowledges with tonight’s reward. For the first time at senior level, he’ll lead his team onto the field.

Latest Posts
  1. ICYMI: Insane 90-yard volley sets Bundesliga record for longest goal

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT

    Stoppelkamp AP

    Newly-promoted Paderborn is shocking the Bundesliga and providing quite the show in the process.

  2. Americans Abroad Review: English-based Americans struggle, Green shocks parents Bayern

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT

    Guzan Getty Images

    It was a rough weekend for Americans in England, but outside the country things a little more enjoyable.

  3. WATCH: Men in Blazers show debuts on NBCSN

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.50.08 PM

    The full debut of Men In Blazers graced NBC Sports Network tonight with an assist from Adam Richman.

  4. Often mocked by fans, Wenger says Abou Diaby should command respect

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Diaby Getty Images

    Despite making just sixteen league appearances the last three years, the Gunners manager says Diaby should be commended for his perseverance.

  5. Report: Obafemi Martins close to Seattle extension and raise

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    Martins AP

    Seattle’s lethal striker is set to cap the best year of his career with a new deal and a raise.

  6. Carlos Tevez still can’t get into the Argentinian national team

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    Tevez AP

    The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the Argentinian side since 2011 when he missed a crucial penalty in a shootout with Uruguay.

  7. Great flop or greatest flop? German player executes ridiculous dive

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Siegert Getty Images

    A dive to end all dives gave the German third division some notoriety.

  8. Fans of Brazilian club throw rocks at team bus after huge loss

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

    Palmeiras Getty Images

    Things have gone horribly wrong for storied Brazilian club Palmeiras this year, and fans are making their feelings known.

  9. DC United extends Ben Olsen’s contract after bounceback season

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Olsen Getty Images

    The two sides agreed on a multi-year deal as Olsen calls DC United “my family and identity.”

  10. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League

    Which 11 players stood out above the rest in Week 5? Find out, here.

  11. Former player accuses ousted Fulham manager Magath of insane cheese story

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Magath Getty Images

    According to a pair of former players, the old Fulham manager told Brede Hangeland to rub his knee with cheese to reduce inflammation.

  12. Premier League Download: Tale of the newly-promoted teams

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Leonardo Ulloa AP

    What are Leicester City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers all about? Our analysts break it down.

  13. Premier League player of the week – Round 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    Lampard AP

    Who was crowned the best player of the week in the PL?

  14. VIDEO: Watch the top five Premier League goals – Week 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    ManchesterUnited AP

    Which five goals were the best? Pick your best from two chips, a scissor kick, a belter and a curler.

  15. League Cup preview: Five all-Premier League ties await in third round

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Gunners and Saints clash, as the third round of the League Cup takes place this week.

  16. FIFA Executive: “The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not happen”

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

    Theo Zwanziger AP

    Zwanziger: “Medics say they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”

  17. VIDEO: Men In Blazers analyze the many faces of Louis van Gaal

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Men In Blazers - Sept. 22

    Joining the NBC Sports crew from the crap part of SoHo, the MiB break down van Gaal’s topsy-turvy day.

  18. Criminal? FIFA’s report into alleged 2018, 2022 World Cup corruption not public

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter AP

    A report documenting FIFA’s internal investigation into alleged World Cup bidding corruption will not be published.

  19. Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy out for three months

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 AM EDT

    Debuchy Getty Images

    Gunners defensive woes compounded as Debuchy will be out for over three months.

  20. Premier League Playback: Legendary Lampard strikes, United’s shambolic implosion

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the incredible storylines from the PL during Week 5.

Featured video

Week 5: Top five Premier League goals