Nov 12, 2013, 3:25 PM EDT
Jozy Altidore has landed in the mud and mire in his club soccer pursuits. His move to Sunderland has become a big heavy anchor roped to the U.S. striker’s ankle, threatening to drag Altidore under.
Oh, for those salad days of goals and Eredivisie bliss back at AZ; Who knew those would be the “good times” for fondly recalling?
But up steps Jurgen Klinsmann, the optimists’ optimist, who says in his quintessential Klinsmann-speak that “It’s no problem!” That’s a loose translation of what the U.S. national team coach said in his latest Q&A.
(BTW, While Klinsmann may enjoy good relationships with member of the press, and while he can be fairly candid and is certainly a convivial fellow to work with … he has grown a little more guarded with media matters during his two-plus years in charge. The best evidence: an increasing percentage of his communication with supporters and media has been funneled through this ongoing series of in-house Q&As, where the chances of something coming out wrong or being removed from proper context diminish significantly.)
Altidore’s move to Sunderland has gone sideways, although that is little fault of his own. Perhaps we could quibble with his choice of landing spots (I wondered aloud about it, mostly because of an unstable, erratic manager who is now gone), but it was clear that Altidore needed to grow, and that meant moving on from AZ. The Dutch club needed to capitalize on Altidore’s value and the U.S. striker needed a new challenge, having achieved so highly during his profitable and prodigious Netherlands run.
Alas ….well …Sunderland happened. Losses, lack of service, managerial weirdness, a notorious sacking, more losses, more lack of service, lineup instability, relegation danger … your basic career nightmare.
And we all wondered what it would mean for the U.S. striker who had been so sensational in the summer for Klinsmann and the national team?
Klinsmann shrugged. Here is what he said:
We are very satisfied with the way things are going with Jozy even with him being in a tough situation right now. The Premier League started and he hasn’t scored yet. Sunderland is a new club for him. It’s a big club, and the way they were playing their game, he was not getting many opportunities to score. So I went there myself, watched it myself and have proof of what I saw before when I watched it on TV. It’s really difficult for Jozy, but this is also what he needs to go through.
“He has a very positive attitude and has come a long way already in his young career and will get stronger. I told him, ‘You will score your goals sooner or later’ if you have that mentality that you develop now, if you have that drive to get through those periods where you haven’t scored, which for a striker is always the most important thing. But, he also has had a tremendous 2013 scoring goals for us in World Cup qualifying, scoring big, crucial goals for us in friendlies as well. He really matured a lot over the last year and deserves a huge compliment.
“Now we need to give him patience, and I think the club has done that very well bringing him through that stretch. Hopefully for Sunderland, he starts to score more goals. They will produce chances and eventually he will score.”
Altidore gets some relief this week and next from Sunderland and all the negative team- and individual-performance pressure now so inexorably attached to soldiers from the Stadium of Light. He is with the national team for that pair of friendlies, this week against Scotland and a few days later against Austria.
Matthew Tomaszewicz, a solid analyst, prolific Tweeter and Shin Guardian contributor, had a great handle on things in an assessment offered this to the social media world. He’s correct that this is yet more quintessential Klinsmann: “Typical man management. Harsh on Jozy when things going well. Pumping up Jozy as he got left out of Sunderland XI.”
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