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Jozy Altidore not in Sunderland 18-man squad, with U-21 side

Apr 7, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

Altidore's struggles at Sunderland were much talked about in England. Getty Images

Jozy Atlidore’s desperate season at Sunderland is getting worse. Is that even possible?

On Monday against Tottenham Hotspur, Altidore was not included in Gus Poyet’s 18-man match day squad as the American forward’s dismal season has hit a new low.

Altidore is playing for Sunderland against Tottenham on Monday… but for their U-21 side at the Stadium of Light.

Last time out the 23-year-old U.S. international striker was named on the Black Cats’ bench against West Ham, but didn’t make an appearance. So far this season Altidore has made 36 appearances in all competitions but has scored just twice, with his last goal coming on December 4 against Chelsea.

Update: After speaking with Sunderland manager Gus Poyet following the 5-1 defeat to Spurs, the Uruguayan told me “It was my decision… just my decision” when I asked him why Altidore had been excluded from the 18-man squad. He was miffed, understandably so after a heavy defeat, but brushed aside other questions on Altidore.

With the World Cup on the horizon, Altidore’s worrying decline in the Premier League continues to concern U.S. national team fans. After a season full of struggle and torment, jumping on and off the bench and now being left off it altogether, has Altidore got a future with relegation haunted Sunderland? He needs a move to reignite his career, as the USA’s main man up top needs to be playing regularly.

Even if the Mackems managed to stay in the top-flight this season, expect Altidore to be on the move from the Stadium of Light if this continues. Poyet’s flippant attitude towards Altidore’s exclusion from the first-team squad, and his subsequent demotion to the U-21 side, shows exactly where the U.S. striker is at with the Sunderland boss.

  1. charliej11 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    People please learn from this. Joining a team with nothing to play for is a REALLY bad move.

    We knew it before he moved, we knew it after he moved and we certainly know it now.

    • premadonna - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Nothing to play for? They are fighting for PL survival, for God’s sake. The reason Altidore isn’t playing has everything to do with his performance this season; he has scored one(1) goal this season…

  2. seanb20124 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Is he still penciled in as the starter for WC?

  3. mkbryant3 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    “NYCFC, take me away!”

  4. jwoffroad85 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    As a fan of the USMNT anything that happens at Sunderland at this point does not worry me the slightest bit. The team gets destroyed with or without Altidore in lineup, and NONE of their strikers are scoring this year.. NO, he has definitely not played his best this season but it is hard to keep good form and confidence when some matches u only touch ball when its booted to other end of pitch with nobody around you and theres only 1-3 crosses into the box the entirety of the match……I am not a Sunderland hater either, i have supported them and will be the first to say it when Jozy plays bad but watching every match this year I personally feel its more about the situation that hes in than Jozy himself. Hes been singled out time and time again the entire year even when other players looked worse or made glaring mistakes that cost goals.. He had 31 goals the year before, and if you dont think he wouldnt be banging goals in again if he went to a better side, back to AZ, or anywhere in the Mls just relax..He will be just fine, soon as he gets the hell out of the current situation.

    • ws0001 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      But, as a fan of the USMNT, you must concede that his ability to score on “a better side” is concerning given that Ghana, Portugal, and Germany are not Jamaica, Panama, and the subs for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The US are not going to be the more talented team in their matches, but to advance they will still need to score. Two goals in twenty-five appearances is not what anyone could have expected, and is sadly is worse than his poorly performing frontline teammates. When WC optimism was at its highest last summer and fall, Jozy was a big part of it. A tough draw and a bad season are sobering.

      • schmutzdeck - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:21 PM


        Are you saying that if Jozy does not score, no other American will?

        About halfway through Sunderland’s season I wasn’t worried about Jozy’s scoring because his overall game had greatly improved and that would be needed in Brazil. Hopefully he can get a few more games in before the end and maybe score a goal or two.

        If not then hopefully the camp will revive him and if that does not work then cut him.

        The US’ World Cup hopes are not tied to Jozy. It’s not like taking Bale away from Spurs or Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal.

        It’s a team game and an in form confident Jozy would have been a help but if he’s not there, he’s not there. A combination of the J’s, AJ and EJ should be able to cover; that is why they were selected.after all.

      • ws0001 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        I’m not saying no American will, but I’m not going to retroactively diminish the important role Jozy Altidore has played for the USMNT over the past few years because of this current struggles. Jozy Altidore matters to the US if the team is going to have high hopes. Javier Hernandez matters to El Tri if they are going to have high hopes. They aren’t Messi or Ronaldo, but that hardly means they are not important to the success of the national teams. The next men up are not as talented as they are, and that greatly impacts the potential of the teams when they are not performing up to their abilities.

  5. onelovesoccer7 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    not good.

  6. jucam1 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    God the excuses some people make for this guy are comical. He is not and never will be an EPL guy, with even minimal quality he could have helped Sunderland guarantee their stay in the EPL and making him a target for a transfer up the table. The fact that the side isn’t that good would only enhance his profile if he was any good!.. I have been saying this since his transfer, this guy is not EPL material, he can be physical against weak competition in Concacaf or in a bad Dutch league, but when he has to play against the world’s best he is way overmatched. I would not be surprised to see Jurgen use his spot for Green in trying to get this team ready for ’18 when the cup will be in a more manageable climate and the USMT actually has a chance in their group due to a better draw (hopefully). This guy is just another over hyped player who should come home, play in the MLS be a relative star here, and hopefully develop his game more so some day he can go back to Europe as a dependable piece off the bench for a second division team and be a veteran for the USMNT. Though I think that is his ceiling. Get younger guys and European raised guys in the line up this cup so they can make a showing in ’18. This signing was a dumb signing by Sunderland from the minute it happened, and it’s going to get the relegated.

    • Mr. No Days Off - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      While I agree that Jozy Altidore will never be a quality Premier League player, he is still the best option for the US heading into Brazil. Speaking of overhyped, bring Julian Green into the conversation. Most people have never seen him play except for the friendly against Mexico last week and their proclaiming him the savior of US men’s soccer. Green is 18 years old, hasn’t been playing first team soccer (granted he is playing at Bayern Munich) and hasn’t trained much with the team. Quote all the stats about his goal scoring numbers with Bayern’s B team, but that league is even worse than the Dutch league where Jozy Altidore and Aaron Johanssen scored 30+ goals.

  7. Mr. No Days Off - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Anyone who says Jozy Altidore’s poor form at the moment isn’t a concern for the USMT is disillusioned. The US already lacks quality at the striker position and adding the poor form of Jozy and Clint Dempsey are no help to a team that is already facing a tough schedule. Yes Chris Wondolowski and Aaron Johannsen have been scoring goals for their club teams, but they have not been tested against the best clubs on an international level and play in mediocre leagues. If Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey don’t find their form quickly it’s going to be an early exit from the World Cup for the US.

    • ws0001 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      The US team can play well and still exit early. The concern goes beyond this summer. Jozy is 24. He is supposed to be part of the next core that goes into the 2016 Pan-American Cup (which has the potential to be a tremendous tournament), Russia in 2018, and possibly beyond. Bradley is 26 and has already returned to the MLS. Is there a long-term impact to that move? We do not know. Is the next core going to have any non-dual nationals playing outside MLS? Does it matter? Once again, we do not know. Japan and South Korea have had World Cup success with squads that have not had many players from European clubs. Still, the conversation about the USMNT’s position has moved dramatically since last summer and fall.

      • mknow406a - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM

        Not sure what you’re looking at. South Korea has only made it out of the group stages twice… one of which was the World Cup it hosted! Didn’t make it out of the group in Germany or past the round of 16 in South Africa… and they currently have 9 players on their roster playing in either the BPL or the Bundesliga. Japan also has only made it pass the group stages twice (once while hosting.) They too got knocked out in the round of 16 in South Africa, but didn’t advance beyond the group in Germany. They also have 10 players in the top leagues of Europe (England, Germany and Italy) and 11 players total with a keeper at Standard Leige in Belgium…

    • mknow406a - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:47 PM

      Yes, Jozy is concern… but the REAL problem will not be scoring goals. It will be scoring MORE goals than the CBs gift away. This is like the Wizard of Oz… pay no attention to the MLS Designated Player that was directly responsible for both of Mexico’s goals. Focus on the forward that has been reassigned to the U-21 squad to try to gain confidence. The US has more goals in its line-up than just Jozy. Not sure many squads outside the top 5 have ENOUGH goal scoring to survive the US’s current leaky back 4.

    • schmutzdeck - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:21 AM

      Mr Off,

      “Anyone who says Jozy Altidore’s poor form at the moment isn’t a concern for the USMT is disillusioned.”

      I had no illusions to begin with so I could not be disillusioned.

      Obviously an in form Jozy would be great but it’s not happening at the moment and there is nothing you or even JK can do about it. JK built this team with the idea that the loss of one guy would not destroy it; and short of losing Mikey this team is pretty close to that ideal.

      On paper, even with everyone firing on all cylinders the USMNT have ZERO chance of advancing. That is how great the talent gap is between the USMNT and the other death group teams. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

      But the games are not played on paper and the USMNT having a fighting chance if everything goes right and they stick together and play out of their minds. World Cups are noted for upsets and Ghana. Portugal and maybe even Germany could be unsettled for many different reasons.

  8. bellerophon30 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    What happens to the striker role if Jozy gets no more games for Sunderland? Can Jurgen really justify starting him over Aron, who’s burning up Eredivise…….which of course is not the EPL, not even close (the Championship, yeah), but all those goals can’t be ignored……….nor can all of those lack of goals. It’s a crap deal for Jozy to be sure, the situation he’s in, but he’s got to own his part in it.

    But I agree that he’s got NYCFC written all over him, though I’m curious about what kind, if any, transfer fee Sunderland will demand for him. They’re certainly not getting Deuce/Bradley money for him, but you have to wonder if they’ll attempt to hold a line sending him to MLS, or perhaps back to AZ (who’ll almost certainly sell of Aron this summer).

    The interesting alternative, which I would love to see tried out in one of the leading up games, is Dempsey and Donovan up front together. I’m sure it’s been done at some point by Bob Bradley or Bruce Arena, but I’d be interested to see what happens if Jurgen gives it a shot

    • mknow406a - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:41 PM

      This isn’t Spain… and while most of the goals will come from the midfield, the USMNT can not compete for 90 minutes with a “faux” number 9 set-up.

      • schmutzdeck - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:26 AM

        The false 9 is played in many other countries besides Spain. Roma used to play a 4-6-0 setup.

      • mknow406a - Apr 8, 2014 at 8:11 PM

        @schmutzdeck there needs to be a certain level of quality in the midfield that US simply lacks for that to work. There is no Totti, De Rossi, Xavi or Inesta. It’s been proven time and again that Dempsey is not a true striker. He’s much more effective coming in late. Donovan also struggles up front when he is not paired with a true striker. He is much more effective coming in from the wing and using his speed and vision. With no strikers in the line-up, the opposing defenders (eg Germany) will pull up their line and leave no space in the midfield to build…

  9. navyeoddavee9 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    He’s not playing because his on the pitch performance, hasn’t been good enough, nothing more, nothing less, just not good enough

  10. navyeoddavee9 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    charliej11: “nothing to play for” funny stuff

  11. mdac1012 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    Jozy is not EPL material, as much as he wants to be or we want him to be it’s just not going to happen. A move back to MLS is probably the best thing for his career right now.

  12. nightwind15 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    If Altidore is the great hope for American Soccer, we are truly screwed. The guy is not quality and if he starts for the US it will be a cruel thing for the fans.

  13. mknow406a - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    First, this is not news for the USMNT. This is a season long running monolog… the REAL story of the day from the USMNT perspective is CR7 missing time with a knee injury. Zusi can fill in nicely for Donovan, but there’s nobody that can replace CR7! Next, Jozy is the American Emile Heskey. He is what he is and nothing more. The thing about that though is that while many considered Heskey a “donkey” because he was not a great goal scorer, he was spectacular in his roll. Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler had a lot of success whenever Heskey was on the pitch. England too were always more dangerous with him in the line-up… but, he wasn’t a scorer, and hence, not sexy… JK seems to get the best out of Jozy. There is no other ‘pure’ number 9 in the player pool. Jozy only needs to provide an outlet, occupy defenders and create space for the ‘real’ scorers playing off the front line. With Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley, Zusi and Johannsson, Jozy was never going to be the big goal threat in the line-up anyways…

    • schmutzdeck - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:32 AM


      The best thing for the US would be a half fit C Ronaldo.

      Portugal w/o Cristiano are probably a lot harder for the US to beat because they will then not be standing around waiting for him to save them.They are more talented than the USMNT even w/o C Ronaldo.. A half fit Cristiano might mean Portugal plays at half speed.

      • mknow406a - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:59 AM

        I agree on paper Portugal is stronger, but if you watched most of their qualifiers, the team just doesn’t click. They struggled a lot in qualifying. Sweden dominated large portions of the second leg. CR7 scored on 3 counters basically by himself. Without his break away pace, Portugal’s a much more beatable side. Knee ligaments are funny things… he might be fine in a week, he might still be struggling in 8 weeks. I’m just hoping he doesn’t pull a Koller… playing just long enough to knockout the US and then misses the rest of the tourney hurt.

  14. godsholytrousers - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Sunderland are horrid, simply not EPL material. They are worse than Jozy Altidore.
    Proof? You saw it Monday. Blaming Jozy is nonsense, this team was doomed from the start, and will be relegated.

    I remember Sunderland fans on this site claiming that they were staying up and that Jozy was the cause of their bad form, and that without him they would gain the points needed.


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