This summer has been a flurry of international soccer with tournaments and World Cup Qualifying. The US Men’s National Team has experienced its fair share of action so far with its participation in the hexagonal, friendlies and now the CONCACAF Gold Cup. There were some concerns about how the US would fair in the final stage of qualifying after having some poor results earlier in the year. Those concerns were quickly forgotten after some quality wins and a run of form that has seen the Americans win seven out of their last seven. A lot of their success at the beginning of this run can be attributed to forward Jozy Altidore.
Altidore has scored in his last four games going back to the win against Germany in an international friendly. That win came as a shock to many, but has instilled confidence in the team that has only increased with time and good results. Since then, the team has played like many hoped they would under Coach Jürgen Klinsmann. A more free-flowing midfield style has allowed space to open up for forwards such as Altidore, who is consistently finding the back of the net.
Jozy had a magnificent club season with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. He scored 31 goals in all competitions including the game winner in the Dutch Cup final against PSV Eindhoven. This tally broke Clint Dempsey’s record for the most goals scored by an American in a single European season. This momentum has been carried into the national side, and even though he is not in the Gold Cup squad, it seems as if the goal scoring will continue from the 23-year-old when he gets back into action.
The performance that Altidore put in at the 2009 Confederations Cup semi-final against Spain made many believe that he was ready for the spotlight. His play warranted praise, but the 19-year-old was not ready just yet to take on the goal-scoring burden for the US. Four years of maturity and experience lead me to believe that he is now ready to take on this responsibility. This couldn’t have come at a better time for the national team with the final games of the hexagonal and then, of course, the World Cup coming up.
Altidore has recently been acquired by English Premier League side Sunderland. Although some don’t think this was a good move by either Altidore or Alkmaar, it will be good for him to get some top-level experience. The kid is only 23 and has a lot of room to improve. Hopefully, he can prove his worth and get picked up a by a more technical club in England, but until then, let the goals keep coming!