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Jozy Altidore’s scoring drought is all about confidence

Jun 1, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

Altidore AP

Jozy Altidore has not scored for club or country since December 4th. No matter how you slice it, that’s not good.

With the World Cup fast approaching, Jozy Altidore is working hard to put his sub-par club season behind him and move forward with the international squad.

After a statue-like performance against Azerbaijan, today’s match against Turkey was a promising step, but there’s still one thing missing:

His finishing.

The man who scored one single Premier League goal for Sunderland is in the lineup to just that, and putting himself in great positions or making solid runs won’t matter if he can’t shoot past a goalkeeper.

Today, Fabian Johnson’s score – a finish by a defender scoring his first-ever international goal – easily found the back of the net for a one-on-one finish, while Jozy fired straight at the keeper at least three times.

He appears timid, unsure of himself, and afraid.

His play is excellent.  He’s using his big frame to body down defenders, he’s streaking past those attempting to mark him, and he’s passing the ball unselfishly when he finds teammates in better positions than he. Klinsmann recognized that he was a positive for the US attack today.

Jozy’s more than just a goalscorer, and that’s what makes him valuable over, say, Chris Wondolowski. But when it comes to shooting the ball into the net, he suddenly becomes fearful, almost like he’s expecting it to be saved.

We all know Jozy’s a streaky player whose confidence can be his greatest asset or his worst enemy.  And when he’s not scoring, it slowly eats away at his confidence like a flesh-eating bacteria, until there’s no skin left for him to fill.

source: AP

Despite his impressive play, Jozy Altidore was unable to get one past

That’s the most worrying thing about this drought; eventually, it’s going to affect the rest of his game, like it did against Azerbaijan, on a more regular basis.  Altidore played very well against Turkey, and deserves to be commended, but he has to start scoring if the United States is going to have any chance of making it past Group G.

Jurgen Klinsmann has other goalscorers in the squad, that’s not the issue.  The potential problem is that if he devolves into the sulking, lump of an Altidore that detracts from the attack rather than helps it, the US is doomed.

He’s not getting any help either, let that be clear.  The referee in today’s match with Turkey was poor, and the US should have been given a penalty at least once, and at this point, US fans will take a goal any way Jozy can get it.

And remember, if Klinsmann benches him at any time, it’s over for Jozy.  That would be the bug in his head that would leave his World Cup confidence in tatters, an unrecoverable situation for the 24-year-old.

They say in baseball that once a pitcher stops pitching and starts aiming, his control is all but lost – the same goes for a striker.  When Jozy attempts to tuck shots past a goalkeeper, they end up in the netminder’s arms. When he shoots, instead of thinking “I can’t wait for this to hit the back of the net” he’s thinking, “I hope this goes in the back of the net” and therein lies the problem.

Just shoot Jozy, please. Just shoot like we know you’re capable of, and the ball will find the back of the net.  The US’s chances at Brazil are riding on it.

  1. navyeoddavee9 - Jun 1, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    Jozy couldn’t get on the pitch at Sunderland, had a terrible season, which was not worthy of a World Cup place, Donovan was more deserving of a spot, but I guess Jozy being younger was the decider

    • mknow406a - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      Yeah. 1 goal in 9 MLS starts (11 if you couint CCL matches) is SO MUCH more deserving. And if you want to bring LD’s “record” in the past, then you also need to bring in Jozy tying the consecutive scoring mark last year… LD is not what he once was, not to mention he was NEVER a target forward. let it go already.

  2. zobe19 - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    Jozy’s frame basically gave him his World Cup spot. Even though he has been in terrible form all season at Sunderland, we need his big body and hold-up style of play to allow the other 9 to move forward. His speed can also be impressive when he actually decides to f^#$king run and work hard. Jozy did not take Donovan’s spot, Donovan lost it to other wingers in my opinion

  3. navyeoddavee9 - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    I’m just saying based on performance, Donovan deserved to go before Jozy, whether he took his spot or not

  4. talgrath - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Altidore did score a goal, the terrible ref disallowed it based on some phantom foul.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Jozy shoved the goalkeeper out of the way and then used his arm to drop the ball to himself.

      That’s what happened, period. (Watch it again if you need to.)

      • talgrath - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        I rewatched the replay a few times, the ref indicated it was for a shove, the only thing I can see on the replay is a slight brush of shoulders as the goalie gets to the post, which is definitely not a foul (this is also when the whistle blows, before any “handball”). Secondly the “handball” was clearly unintentional, most refs won’t call a handball if your hand is at your side, which Jozy’s hand was in just such a position; remember handball is about intent as much as whether it actually touched your hand. That should have been a goal, that ref was terrible.

  5. sburns20 - Jun 1, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Donovan lost his spot when Jurgen decided to give up on the 2014 World Cup and bring guys who don’t belong instead.

  6. ojom4130 - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    You can disbelieve your eyes and believe the comments and spin, but why? Yes they needed more defensive help in the midfield (LALAS)., but that was exaggerated because Davis and Chandler were horrible on the left together. Yes Jozy worked his butt off and had a good game (Turkey coach), but he also missed some one vs one chances, and might have missed an open goal if given the chance. So the conclusion is false also, (paraphrase Klinsmann), “No need to produce goals here, just in Brazil”. Would one expect Beethoven’s 5th from someone banging out chopsticks.

  7. nottinghamforest13 - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    Altidore is neither a good striker nor is he a target man. He’s occasionally effective when moving through channels but when playing with his back to goal nothing positive occurs. The US doesn’t have many options at forward unfortunately.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      @nottingham, I agree with you about Jozy, but Aron Johannsson is more than ready to take over at the top.

  8. navyeoddavee9 - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    mknow: Donovan is starting to heat up, he’s a proven commodity, Jozy did not do squat this year at Sunderland, a few times didn’t even make the bench, Donovan hasn’t been great, but Jozy was awful in the premiership this year, if Jozy makes the squad, so should Donovan that’s all

    • mknow406a - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:08 PM

      While you consider LD a “proven commodity,” the SEC requires that I inform you that “past performance does not necessarily predict future results.” This is the World Cup, not an elementary field day event where everybody gets a ribbon and there are no losers. Your argument that Jozy sucked more than LD and therefore by the “transitive property of suckiness,” LD should have a roster space too, is incredibly naïve at best and ridiculous at worse. If you ignore that they have different rolls then you can also say “LD scored more goals than Beckerman in the Gold Cup and if Beckerman made the roster, LD should too” or “Tim Howard never scores, so if he made the roster, LD should too.” The reality is Donovan played like crap all of 2014 heading into camp. He struggled in the MLS. He struggled in the CONCACAF Champions League. He struggled in the friendly against Mexico. You point out that he is “heating up.” The significant caveat that you fail to mention is that LD’s resurgence has been against depleted MLS rosters as many of the league’s better players are now off representing their countries in the World Cup…

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