There have been very few world-class players to ever put on a U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team uniform.
Currently, one could argue that Landon Donavon and Clint Dempsey have reached or came close to that status. There is no denying that Donovan and Dempsey have proven to be stars at the international and club level. Even naysayers must applaud the careers of both, having tested their abilities successfully in the MLS, Europe and at the international levels.
Both are towards the latter parts of their careers, so the U.S. Men’s National Team is in need of young blood to assume the mantle.
At 23-years of age, Jozy Altidore is already a pretty accomplished soccer player, having signed with the New York Red Bulls at the tender age of 16. He has already put a shirt on for five other teams all across Europe, producing mixed results. While Altidore played for Villarreal, Xerex, Hull City and Bursaspur, he didn’t really meet expectations or fulfill his potential.
During his latest stint with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, Altidore’s talents finally came to fruition. He has finally become the physical presence that people were expecting and raving about as a 16-year old. He has finally become a professional, elevating his work rate, pressing defenders to recover possession as well as setting up scoring opportunities for other players.
Altidore is now known for making intelligent runs into the penalty box and most importantly, for a striker, he has become a clinical finisher.
Altidore scored 31 goals in all competitions last season for AZ Alkmaar, leading to him being selected as the first-ever American to be named to the team of the season in the Eredivisie. His monstrous season last campaign put teams in the top leagues in the world on notice. This summer, AZ Alkmaar agreed to sell Altidore to Sunderland of the EPL for an undisclosed fee.
There is no doubt Altidore has been in fine form over the last 12 months, wreaking havoc on opponents consistently for the first time in his career. Altidore has already managed to muster 60 caps for the U.S. and has 20 goals to his tally. Having scored eight goals in his last six games, he has definitely developed a killer instinct as of late.
With his hat trick this afternoon against Bosnia-Herzegovina, the world has taken notice of his exploits, and expectations at Sunderland have risen for Altidore. There is no debating the quality he possesses or the determination he shows in his play on the pitch. This upcoming EPL season and next summer’s World Cup will be opportunities for Altidore to show if he is up for the challenge.
In the soccer world, form is temporary and class is permanent; it never abandons you. Class is something that oozes out of you, something that you are born with innately that has to be nurtured and developed over time. Altidore was born with the make-up of a world-class talent. He must now fulfill the mountains of potential he has and lead U.S. soccer to new heights.