Is Altidore losing focus?

Jozy_altidore_ap

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is my story on Jozy Altidore today on ESPN.com. It focuses on the growing sentiments that Altidore is losing focus and is developing poor training habits, perhaps as a result of being distracted by all the transfer speculation surrounding him, or as a result of him starting to buy into the hype.

The story came about after hearing from a myriad of very reliable sources about Altidore’s worsening training habits, and his attitude changing. This wasn’t meant as an indictment of him as a person, but rather a revelation that all the hype just might be getting to a kid who I honestly didn’t think could change from the humble and hard-working player he had been since joining MLS.

It is probably unfair to believe that a player of his age wouldn’t succumb to all the talk, and start believing it. Let’s face it, even if you were 25, let alone 18, and you started being linked to teams like Real Madrid and transfer prices like $10 million, you might start thinking you can do no wrong.

The issue is a very real one and perhaps Altidore will straighten himself out and get back to being the player so many have raved about the past two years. Right now though, his approach to the game is leaving a lot of people scratching their heads.

What do you think of the story. Share your thought below.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- New York Red Bulls, U.S. Men's National Team, U.S. Men's Olympic Team. Bookmark the permalink.

95 Responses to Is Altidore losing focus?

  1. HomeyBoehme says:

    Was this the same thing with Adu (of course he was 15 going through this) but it seems similar.

  2. Seisco says:

    Part of me thinks Jozy should’ve gone over this winter. It would’ve kept him motivated and focused.

    But if and when Jozy goes to Europe he will get a rude awakening if he truly is getting a little complacent. The Europeans won’t take it easy on him and they certainly won’t praise him if he doesn’t perform.

    All in all I think any arrogance that Jozy’s developing will get washed away once he gets a reality check in Europe.

  3. Nick says:

    That’s really funny you bring this up today because Adidas sent out mass emails today trying to sell workout shirts that feature a video of Jozy working out with his trainer and talking about how much training he does and how hard he pushes himself.

    That being said, he did have the only goal against Chicago and he didn’t celebrate like an idiot being that we were down 4 goals at that point. I guess my point is, maybe he is slacking off a bit, but he is still a great talent and he seems like a really great kid. Like you said, he is only 18, even though he is rich and famous doesn’t mean he isn’t going through craziness like most 18 year olds. I’m sure it’s just a blip and he’ll get back in the swing of things.

  4. MAK10 says:

    I wonder if some of this is a little bit of burnout setting in. The kid has played a ton in the last two years without much of a break. I wonder if he’s just worn down a little. He’s carrying a heavy load for just an 18 year old kid. It easy to forget how young he is and how far he still has to go.

  5. Marc says:

    His “poor training habits” may be attributable to all of the minor knocks that he has had recently. I saw him at a charity event two weeks ago and introduced myself. He was very approachable and didn’t give off any signs of having a big ego. I saw him walking around the event, and he had a noticeable limp. He wasn’t doing this for effect, as no one was around.

  6. Michael F. says:

    Read your article, Ives. With all your access, why not just ask Altidore and add his take to your piece?

    Agree with Nick, seeing Altidore not celebrate the goal was nice to see.

    But tell me, why do teenage soccer players get distracted but teenage HS and college basketball stars get motivated and play better and earn those multi-million dollar contracts?

  7. Jeff says:

    I’ve felt for awhile now that he is either too complacent or tired. The sad thing is that either way he still leads us in scoring.

  8. Braden says:

    Although it was a great article and I’m always interested in learning what’s going on “behind the scenes”, I can’t help but wonder what it takes for Altidore to be “on his game?”

    I mean, he sits out against Chicago as the team gets hammered, but manages to come on as a sub and get the only goal with a really nice header (he worked hard to be in the right place and finished better than most senior US Nationals).

    He leads the Red Bulls in goals scored, even though Osorio tries to play him as a left midfielder. We hear this crap all the time about players like Adu and Altidore, but in the end it has more to do with unrealistic expectations being made in the first place. I’d be worried if Altidore didn’t think he was God’s gift to soccer, because that’s the kind of attitude you need as a forward.

  9. Christian says:

    while Altidore has great potential, he has yet to show it on the field, he has shown flashes but has not been consistent. The hype has deffinitely gotten to his head and it’s not hard to see based on his reaction to on-field issues. He hasn’t really done enough to warrant a call to the full National team, although he had a great summer during the U-20 WC but realistically speaking Adu was the engine of that team.

    A guy like Kenny Cooper has done more than Jozy, granted he’s older, to warrant a call-up from Bradley and yet he’s been ignored almost completely, which may have something to do with the way Bradley wants his forwards to play (pressuring and chasing balls all game long) but as a Mexico fan, I’d be a bit scared to face Kenny Cooper. He reminds of Ibrahimovich, although not quite as acomplished and maybe not nearly as good but he’s a great prospect and I hope the US realizes it before it’s too late.

  10. j1m says:

    He is leading our team in goals, so he can’t be that unfocused. But, Ives is raising the question, not answering it. I think Jozy will answer it with his actions over the summer. My hope is that he does keep his perspective, and above all, enjoy the ride.

  11. NJ Guy Stuck in DC says:

    Wow. Maybe he is maybe he isn’t getting a big head but it sure could be. This just says to me he’s gone this summer, along with his lack of playing time and ingrown nails. As you noted Ives, he wouldn’t be the first to pull the throttle back, which is actually the right thing to do if you are about to increase your earning power by 10-15x. I watched Bobby Convey tank about 10 games with DC waiting for his transfer to go through.

    However, if his ‘tude is so big as your epsn piece mulls over–alothough this contradicts the England summary post where you insist he and Cooper were not yet called up due to MLS considerations–and it affected Bradley calling him up, what does that say? Because Jozy suddenly has an attitude (or is trying not to blow out his knee) Josh Wolff is starting for the Nats? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

  12. brett says:

    perhaps its just the fact he isnt as motivated at the moment?? he’s playing for a squad that is thinned as badly as LA…frustrations could be getting the better of him….

    he’s on the verge of going abroad, and i HIGHLY doubt he’ll enter whatever euro field thinking he’s top dog… he’ll have a WHOLE new set of motivations….

    my point being is he’s becoming stagnant in the MLS… he need to open his wings and i think he’s looking back on the offers he had this winter and wish he couldve persued one… like i said, whole new set of motivations…

    OR… perhaps he doesnt see eye to eye with JCO… it wouldnt be the first time a quality youth doesnt see eye to eye with his coach…

  13. Emilio says:

    His poor form, yet he has 3 goals in 7 matches, thats not bad, despite he has been playing out of position most of the year. Oh if Angel’s poor form was like Altidore’s we would be ok.

    Altidore is clearly the best American striker, if anything the performance by the US forwards against England showed this.

  14. Yusef says:

    Not sure if concern is legit, but I can understand. It seems like clubs around the world let players go if they have an opportunity they want to pursue whether it is a bigger club, going home, etc., but MLS does solely what’s best for the league. I’m amazed guys like Twellman, Shalrie Joseph, etc. stay focused when MLS refused to allow them to go to Europe. If he felt slighted not being able to go by now, it would be very easy to begin counting down the days to his inevitable transfer. I have no doubt he would find inspiration in his next club.

  15. Matt says:

    The fact of the matter is that Jozy was only on the pitch for about a half hour against Chicago and scored our only goal. At other points during the season he’s been stuck out on the wing with and/or deprived of any support from the Red Bulls abysmal midfield. Despite all of this, he’s the club’s leading scorer.

    I can’t blame the kid for getting frustrated. RBNY is the most dysfunctional organization in MLS and they have done nothing to address their deficiencies in the offseason.

  16. Rocco says:

    I think he is wearing down a bit. Artificial “crap” turf doesn’t help his cause.

    Go to Europe Jozy…. He needs new challenges. Getting European action, getting his first start there, getting his first goal, etc.

    He needs to get that hunger in his stomach again. It might be a little complacent for him now. How can you blame him. He has what, 10K people at games in a huge stadium, artificial crap turf. Olympics are right around the corner and you know he wants to be in top form for them.

    Ives, I know you might have wrote this piece as a partial motivation for him, but I think you went overboard here.

    “If Altidore fails to live up to his potential because of ego or poor work ethic, it would be one of the true tragedies American soccer has ever seen.”

    Give me a break, lay off the kid.

  17. Cyrus says:

    Ives, what’s the deal with this DP Coming June 2008 banner?

  18. Braden says:

    Oh, and having just seen the U.S. Roster against Spain I have to wonder, why do we treat players like Altidore like fragile pieces of china, when we seem to have no problem throwing untested, out-of-contract goalkeepers into major international friendlies. Yeah yeah yeah…. training, scouting, blah blah blah. What about winning? Sorry, minor pet peeve….

  19. Haig says:

    Angel isn’t scoring, or playing particularly well, either. Granted he’s carrying an injury, but the personnel and tactics employed by Osorio do not lend themselves well to forwards getting scoring chances.

    Probably very frustrating for both Altidore and Angel. But who didn’t see this nightmare coming after RBNY decided that there was no hurry to sign anyone?

    That’s why the attitude that Metro/RBNY have taken over the years that it doesn’t matter how the first 2/3rds of the season goes as long as they can sign someone before the playoffs is so stupid. Losing games inculcates the mentality of a losing team. It’s almost shocking how they never seem to learn that lesson.

  20. Barry U says:

    Ives please ask Jozy about this if you have access to him. It seems to me that many people have given the kid credit for being able to handle things pretty well so I think we should get his side of this. He is the leading scorer on his team playing with alot of guys around him that are not his level. Not only that but i’ve seen him contribute to some of the goals other guys have scored and be a real good team player. If he is not giving it his all in practice and he has nagging injuries then he needs a break. I don’t buy the bad attitude. My opinion is that it is time for him to move on from that situation. You yourself have questioned who that team is managed so you know that things sometimes start at the top.

  21. Pat the Red Bulls Fan says:

    Good piece Ives.

    RBNY, int’l friendlies, Olympics, WC qualilfers. What else can we throw at Jozy? Oh yeah, he needs to be the savior of soccer in the US. All while he’s 3 years away from buying a beer legally. How would any of us do with all that pressure? That being said, Jozy’s up to the task. I hope.

  22. LJ says:

    While people were screaming at Reyna, I wanted to yell at Altidore. He was playing pretty complacement in my opinion. But then he scored and I couldn’t say much after that, regardless.

  23. brett says:

    Pat the Red Bulls Fan- “All while he’s 3 years away from buying a beer legally. ”

    yet another reason he should’ve packed up and left to europe over the winter

    LJ- surely you arent refering to the game against the Fire… he comes in off the bench and you expect magic??

  24. Eugene says:

    No, how about is Altidore getting BORED of MLS. The league is just not challenging enough for him and he’s not getting any service from the shoddy Red Bulls midfield, so like any normal person he’s not going the extra mile for nothing.

    As soon as the kid transfers, his development will start progressing again and his talent will shine through.

  25. Aguinaga says:

    link to tinyurl.com

    On JCO & the Chicago game:

    1. “…he’s intense and I want to win the game for him. ”

    2. “I think Juan [Carlos Osorio] is definitely a defensive-minded coach and he’s emphasized that defense wins games. I don’t think that’s hurt me and Juan Pablo [Ángel] up front because I believe we have enough offense going forward to make things happen.”

    On himself:

    1. “As for me, I’m just trying to get back into form.”

    2. “I haven’t been able to improve as much as I’d like to and I’m trying to address that now.”

    3. “My game has been a bit off, but I’m trying to stay strong mentally.”

    4.”I honestly feel stationary on the field.”

    5. “I’m not panicking, I’m just trying to improve.”

    Sure doesn’t sound like a kid with a big head and a lack of respect for the opposing team or coach. Sounds intelligent enough to be his own critic and fight the struggle we all must in order to improve. Overall, getting two different signals: What’s reported, and what the man himself says.

  26. Fooism says:

    Ives, love the blog, but between this article and the piece you wrote on the US/England game, I’m starting to wonder about the US soccer press. You state that Bradley didn’t call Jozy in because of his poor form, how then did Josh Wolff who hasn’t scored a goal in many many months and currently doesn’t have a team good enough to start against England? I feel that the press in this country doesn’t question the coaches decisions closely enough. I’m more annoyed at how lightly Bradley is getting off for his pathetic performance than this article. As a good soccer journalist I hope you question Mr Bradley as to why Wolff was started over Adu and given the pathetic nature of our offense why did he only call in defensive midfielders for the Spain game when it is a FIFA recoginzed international date.

  27. KK says:

    Hasn’t anyone seen the movie GOAL? This sh@t happens to everyone who is told they are the next big thing. He’ll go somewhere, realize he needs to put his head down and get to work. It will be fine. He’s 18.

  28. Eugene says:

    Hell, I’m getting bored watching the poor quality of many of the players around him on the youth national team. Jozy, Freddy, Michael Bradley, these guys were clearly a cut above the rest. I think others like Robbie Rogers and Danny Szetela had a lot to prove because they didn’t succeed in Europe.

    On the Red Bulls, Altidore and Angel are head and shoulders above the rest. Jozy needs to play with a team that will challenge him, where he’s intensely competing for a spot and where every player around him is very good, if not great.

    Honestly, the kid should have transferred in the winter, this situation was bound to happen.

  29. BJR says:

    Ives,

    definitely not one of your better pieces. In fact, reminds me of the telenovela-style piece you did on the Wynalda “incident.”

    Way to fuel the fire though…

  30. kawa says:

    dont get carried away folks ives is just being what he is , a !!! journalist !!

  31. tedhill says:

    This is a problem and it is what happens when MLS turns down transfer offers for its players. They should have accepted the $8 million from Reading. Now if your Jozy don’t you ask yourself, “What do I have to do? I get offers from European clubs but I can’t make the MLS accept it.” The MLS needs to take all reasonable offers for it’s players and live with it.

  32. PETE says:

    why not ask him yourself?

  33. HomeyBoehme says:

    I still remember how happy I was watching Jozy score against Mexico. No question Jozy is one of our best forward options. I think NOT being able to be with the National team has got to be hurting his confidence a bit.

    Perhaps Ives is trying the old Lebron James trick?

    I can’t remember what year in the NBA playoffs (because I only care about soccer) but after a loss in the playoffs all these people in the sports community said “James can’t take the big shot” “James can’t take over a game” “James doesn’t have what it takes to lead his team”. The next game Lebron James scored something like the last 24 points to pretty much carry his team to the victory. All the same pundits had to apologize the next day caues Lebron proved them all wrong.

    Would Lebron have played that way without that criticism? I don’t think so.

  34. pwip says:

    Ives, I hope you can take a step back and re-examine what you just wrote. IMO, this is sub standard jounarlism.

  35. Stan from El Barrio says:

    Quote: “But tell me, why do teenage soccer players get distracted but teenage HS and college basketball stars get motivated and play better and earn those multi-million dollar contracts?”

    Michael F., those players get distracted as well. From greedy relatives, agents and hangers-on, to punks trying to test them at the mall, at the movies or any other social setting. The difference is, there’s a straight line trajectory for B’Ball players: High School, Div. 1 College Ball and then the NBA; where they’re drafted and their rookie salaries are already set. The Charlotte Bobcats, the Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks aren’t weighing transfer offers for 18 year-old phenoms.

    Jozy’s seemingly has a dip in form & he’s also being marked (and hacked) more forcefully by opposing teams. While I don’t like the fact that he’s constantly looking for calls from the ref, he’s starting to think more about his future than ever before. DMB, took his foot off the gas before he went to PSV, so did Mathis, Convey & Dempsey. It’s to be expected when looking at making $25K a week and playing against the likes of Barca, Arsenal and Bayern.

  36. groovester says:

    he’s turning into Eddie Johnson. Hope he gets over his depression/fatigue soon before it’s too late.

  37. Tim F says:

    Here’s a question for all the wannabe journalists/Jozy fan club members. What is Jozy going to say if asked if he’s a prima donna? Hey Jozy, do you think you’re slacking in practice? Hey Jozy, do you think you’re half-as$ing it? “Yeah, I’m pretty much mailing it in until the transfer window.”

    Get real y’all, what happens is if enough people on the team, whether you have players or coaches, who start talking about how somebody is slacking, it’s going to come out.

    Some of you jock sniffers need to relax and realize that your favorite player isn’t perfect.

  38. Pat the Red Bulls Fan says:

    Jock sniffers? Perfect? Where do you see that here Tim? What American soccer fan, doesn’t want Jozy to do well? And if your not an American soccer fan, why are you here?

  39. EricJ says:

    Just a comment to those questioning Ive’s journalism…what exactly about the piece do you question? I know a few have given their reason but there are others that blankly state his article was bad while writing nothing as to why.

    In any case, everyone goes through a slump. Toja, for example, has been slumping recently which lead to him being benched.

  40. eric says:

    “There’s absolutely no problems with Josmer,” Osorio said. “I think he’s very good player and I think his future is as bright as he wants it to be.

    “When he is in good form and good shape he will be playing for us,” Osorio said. “There is no question about that.”

    That’s one clever, political answer from Osorio.

    Whatever is going on, Altidore hasn’t been the same. For me, the trademark of his game (especially last year) was that he kept running at you, every time he got the ball. And when he failed, he’d just do it again, he had the willingness to make his runs and a striker’s short memory. Haven’t seen it yet this year.

  41. LJ says:

    Brett,

    I am talking about the Fire game. Come on now, of course I didn’t expect magic, and I don’t think it sounded like I did. I’m just saying he came in fresh, is athletically better than most that were on the pitch to begin with, and he was still contained with too much ease by their defense. The goal was nice, but it take much effort on his part to make it, and outside of that he really didn’t do much moving and shaking things up, with or without the ball.

    Maybe you disagree, but it looked that way to me. His body language was so-so too. Maybe it was because by time he came on NY didn’t have a chance, but he still should play hard for his club.

  42. LJ says:

    I don’t think it’s as bad as some people are getting worked up about though.

  43. pwip says:

    Well, the only way this story can come out is if this was purposely leaked. Ives is total pawn of this unnamed source. It goes toward motives. It need a quote from Jozy. You can asked the question professionally. Is he speculating based from insider info or his own opinion. Would be nice if he can get a quote from the unnamed source if that was the case.

  44. Allegre says:

    My take on this years offensive problems is that RBNY are timid, both on offense and defense (especially in the last game with the Fire). I think they miss the “grittiness” that Clint Mathis provided. While I don’t pretend that he had the most wonderful skills, his intensity and giving 110% is sorely missed on this team. He played a hard nosed game and I believed inspired the other players (including Angel and Altidore).

  45. ManicMessiah says:

    pwip, I don’t get what the purpose would be for Red Bull to purposefully leak this. Do you think they are attempting to sell him and hope they lower his transfer fee? I can’t imagine they think it would make potetntial suitors not want to buy him, holding onto him for the summer. I guess you could argue that it would be an attempt to leave themselves excuses when they sell him during the summer, but I think that’s way beyond a stretch.

    As for the article, I don’t see much in it yet. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything in it. I’m not too worried about Jozy, and frankly he doesn’t have long left with the club anyway.

  46. Dannyc58 says:

    I think ESPN needed an article, and you had to write one. This article represents EVERYTHING thats wrong with ESPN.

    Why not ask Jozy? Why don’t these “sources” stop being anonymous? The kid is getting no service playing on the left (instead of working off JPA alone).

    Nothing to see here.

  47. papa bear says:

    he seems to have a handle on things happening on field in terms of his performance and aguinaga’s quotes seems to back that up.

    as far as him becoming cocky and arrogant I say “GOOD”

    there isn’t a top striker in the world who isn’t an arrogant a-hole to the 10th power. When they lose that arrogance they lose their mojo (see Eddie Johnson)

    The day Altidore stops having an arrogance about him is the day he’s as good as done.

  48. Braden says:

    Yeah, the problem about the article (it isn’t with Ives’ reporting) is that Altidore doesn’t seem to be mailing it in on the pitch. He LEADS THE TEAM IN SCORING! He came on in the Fire game and scored a goal, but he gets criticized because it didn’t look like it was easy to score!?!? If Altidore is mailing it in, then Angel must be playing on crutches, Reyna’s using a walker, and Jeff Parke’s drunk off his ***! The Red Bulls aren’t playing well as a team, and Altidore’s performance reflects that reality. I wouldn’t get down on the kid until some of his teammates demonstrate they deserve to be playing professional soccer.

  49. alex says:

    I think Jozy is probably just feeling “done” with the way JCO handles things. I mean the guy changes his mind constantly which might be confusing to Jozy. Who wouldn’t lose motivation with the way things have been handled recently within this organization?

  50. Ives says:

    Pwip, you have a lot to say for someone who has never posted on SBI before today.

    Since you’re here though, do you honestly think I would write this story with just one source, or even just two sources? I stand by my multiple sources and while some folks want to be in denial about it, there is an issue.

    The point of the article wasn’t about his form as much as his work ethic and attitude within the team being poor. Whether it’s because he’s thinking too much about a transfer, or buying into the hype, he has lost his way a bit.

  51. derek Gores says:

    guys, don’t forget, a blog isn’t traditional journalism, it is interactive. surely ives is also following his traditional methods, but part of the reason we’re all here is that ives asks questions and we get to dream up our own answers.

    shake it jozy!-

    i think most senior forwards lose that ‘run all day at ya’ intensity. please don’t jozy. look at the youthful intensity of c. ronaldo– it surely is effective for him at the highest levels.

  52. pwip says:

    Let me ask you. Is there anyway Ives could of known about this story himself? It may not be RBNY as a whole but I would say 90% of professional teams keep their dirty laundry in house. If it is aired, it is usually leaked on purpose by the player or the organizations. I didn’t say it was a smart person or this was done with clear reasoning.

  53. Dannyc58 says:

    I’d like to take back what I said mostly.

    I believe Ives had sources and that they believe this. Thinking about it, this isn’t about his form, its about his actions off the pitch.

    Linking his (Jozy’s) NY Times blog entries, is nice, but talk is cheap.

    So I want to apologize to Ives for implying anything negative about Ives’ integrity, that was dumb and unfair of me.

    My anger for ESPN is from how they handle the NFL (and the crap that Mort & Clayton spew out just to get noticed), so I apologize to Ives.

  54. pwip says:

    Ives, I’m not questioning the fact you have sources. I questioning the fact you didn’t get the other side of the story. And, an issue of your own credibility.

  55. ManicMessiah says:

    I will say this about having two minor quibbles about the article:

    1) I would attribute his dip in form to defenders being more aware and physical with him (which I think he’s letting distract him), as well as playing as a wide forward on a team whose midfield has not been creative or held the ball, pulling him far away from the goal much more than bad practice habits.

    2) Bob Bradley’s selections being based on form, based on the team selection for the last match, I don’t know that I buy that.

    As far as Altidore leaving during this transfer window, earlier in the year I wanted him to stay until the winter, but if this does continue and/or escalate, it wouldn’t do to have him in MLS. He’s a first choice player for the Red Bulls, and benching him for poor practice hurts the Red Bulls on the pitch more than it sends a message.

  56. aristotle says:

    Maybe Josie will be signed by a premier league team and immediately come unglued and never be able to play again a la Eddie Johnson.

  57. Alex says:

    Great piece, Ives. Well written as always.

    It’s a valid point about Altidore. He may just be acting the way teenagers do (being one myself I know how it is) and I’d like to think that’s all it is, because if he is letting the hype get to his head and his form is dips as a result it will be very sad for him and American fans because clubs like Real Madrid will no longer be interested in him.

    On the flip side, I’ve never thought Real Madrid was the best option for him at this point in his career. I’d certainly like to see him play there someday, but right now a Newcastle or similar club might be better for him.

    IMO, regardless of his form for the rest of his MLS career, there will be European clubs interested. A dip in form now, whatever the cause, might cost him Real’s interest, but that may be a blessing in disguise, allowing him to go to a smaller club where he can get some serious PT and develop better.

  58. Adam M. says:

    Jozy is hyped, but surely no more than fellow teens Pato, Bojan, or Giovanni Dos Santos, all of whom regularly get first team time with Milan and Barca, two teams slightly higher up the food chain that NYRB. Didn’t Pato win the Club World Championship with International when he was 17? Yep. This isn’t a knock on Jozy, just reality. He has yet to prove himself on a major stage and isn’t playing particularly well for a middle of the pack MLS team. Why is anyone’s guess. He is entitled to get tired, of course. But Jozy remains mostly potential, as yet unrealized, and he won’t get better playing in Giants Stadium, much less sitting on the bench. Personally, I think he’d do better heading South than East for now. Sao Paulo needs a big striker to replace Adriano. Give Jozy a year or two in Brazil and if he really has the born talent and the will, he will be a world beater. But he needs a change, badly, and now.

  59. El Guapo says:

    Maybe Jozy is getting a tip from Eddie Johnson….

    not saying just saying.

  60. Drew2 says:

    “Pwip, you have a lot to say for someone who has never posted on SBI before today.

    Since you’re here though, do you honestly think I would write this story with just one source, or even just two sources? I stand by my multiple sources and while some folks want to be in denial about it, there is an issue.

    The point of the article wasn’t about his form as much as his work ethic and attitude within the team being poor. Whether it’s because he’s thinking too much about a transfer, or buying into the hype, he has lost his way a bit.”

    That’s certainly a fair point to make. I do wonder, however, whether when journalists write articles like this do they talk to the player in question? I assume that you have some contact with Jozy since you cover the Red Bulls… is it considered proper to let him know this kind of negative article is coming, just as a warning? Do you try to get a comment from him and he declines?

  61. Bob says:

    Ives, I don’t usually disagree with you, but I think you are being unfair. The soccer gods are fickle; why attribute a dip in form to potential character problems?

    Why don’t you write an article about how soccer writers in this country tend to slobber over every young player who MIGHT do something in world soccer? You imply this in your ESPN article — take a bolder stance.

    I do think you are correct in your comments about him looking ahead to a transfer. A true professional would play out his time with class. Dempsey did not do this, and it is tough to tell if Adu dogged it in the end because RSL was pretty terrible.

  62. Bob says:

    One other comment/question — when I see this kind of article, a piece critical of a player that uses unnamed sources, I often wonder if it is “planted” in order to motivate a player. Care to comment, Ives?

  63. Joe Quake says:

    Ives – come on man. You’ve been jocking this guy for how long? After the US v Mexico game, you said he was clearly ready for the big time. You can’t have it both ways.

    He’s only 18. We don’t know what kind of a player he is going to be yet. I thought this after reading your US v Mexico comments, and I think so now.

    I can sympathize with you Ives because you are trying to be both fan and journalist. Like someone else posted, this wasn’t one of your best pieces – you should have gone directly to Jozy.

  64. Justin O says:

    pwip – The “other side of the story” is the story written about in basically every recent article about Altidore. It’s Ives who is presenting the other side of the story here.

    Also, I would be concerned with any attitude problems, because whatever Jozy is going through in terms of hype, it is miniscule compared to what numerous other 18-year old athletes experience in numerous sports around the world.

  65. Justin O says:

    Joe Quake – Right or wrong, the article is clearly refering to *recent* developments in Altidore’s attitude. I fail to see how saying Altidore was ready for the US team after the Mexico game means it is somehow contradictory to report on attitude problems now.

  66. Ives says:

    Joe Quake, it’s not about having it both ways and in no way am I ever trying to be a fan (I am a journalist, and if I wanted to be a fan I would just write a long series of puff pieces and positive player profiles). It’s about things changing and Altidore’s work ethic and attitude changing in recent months. This is an issue raised by several, and I mean several, sources and something I have been tracking for some time. I wish I could elaborate more but I can’t without revealing sources.

    This wasn’t a planted story or the motive of some disgruntled person. I would never even think about writing a story like this with just one source. I have several solid sources whose information I have no reason to doubt.

    I’m not sure if some people bothered to really ready the piece. There’s a lot of talk about his form and how it isn’t that bad. The point of the article wasn’t to say he’s playing terribly, but that his poor work ethic and deteriorating attitude are affecting his form. Yes, he has three goals, but he has not played as well as he did last year. I know some people want to blame that on anything but his own work in training or lack of focus, but that’s not what I have heard.

    As I stated in the piece, it might just be the growing pains of a teenager dealing with success, but the fact is its happening, which is a cause for concern when we’re talking about such an important prospect and someone who has been lauded (by me among others) for his maturity and ability to handle the pressure and hype.

    Some people want to call it a hit job but I believe I was a lot more fair with the story than some writers would have been with the same information.

  67. Bob says:

    Fair enough, Ives.

    I guess part of my response to this is motivated by the fact that I see so much awful reporting from Europe. Look at what has happened to Ronaldinho over the last two years. He went from god to fat roisterer all because of a few average performances (he is expected to be amazing all the time). Funny thing is, he was doing all of that when he played for PSG. If you play well, no one cares. When you get injured and start playing like a mere human, look out.

    So I guess the question is, would you have written this piece (or would your sources be saying this) if Jozy had ten or eleven goals? And I am NOT saying you are as bad as the Euro press, so please do not take offense.

  68. John says:

    1. I think it’s about being a teenager. At some point, it’s natural for a teenager to think he knows best. Adu did it with Nowak (and has since recanted most of his criticism of Nowak saying that instead it gave him a taste of what Europe was like).

    2. Good training habits: folks lets be realistic here, the vast majority of athletes don’t have good training habits period! That’s one thing that separates outstanding players from might-have-been’s. To indict Altidore on his training habits isn’t that uncommon because it’s a rare player, almost unheard of actually, who from day one, demonstrates outstanding training habits. Even some great ones (like Maradona) have eating or drug issues that affect their health as players. I’m not saying it’s unimportant, only that this is an issue with a lot of players one way or another.

    3. Of course it happens to teen basketball players or guys in other sports. Can you say “Kwame Brown”? There are thousands of guys who lost big time money in a range of sports (Houston McTear?) because they didn’t put in the work and focus they needed to in order to succeed.

    4. As I understand it, the issue with Adu wasn’t work habits. It was more ego. But what is common in both cases is that teenagers (especially when they’ve been told that they’re great or soon to be great and going to come into large sums of money) often are immature in a variety of ways. For most of us, being immature as a teenager means not studying for math one semester or forgetting to put oil in the car engine or being a jerk to our parents for two years. But some of these kids (EJ, Adu, Altidore) have greater skills so their screwups and teenage funks have consequences beyond just them and their immediate families.

  69. Jamie Z. says:

    Wait, wait. There’s a basketball team called the Charlotte Bobcats? Boy, am I out of the loop…

  70. Phillip says:

    Perhaps he’s not being challenged…

  71. inkedAG says:

    If it’s really true that Jozy is starting to get a big head, it’ll be a damn shame as he always seemed so level-headed and respectful up to this point.

    He seems like he might be getting burnt out. While he scored against Chicago, he’s hasn’t been his usual stellar self, so something is going on. I hope it’s some teenage angst and he’ll get through it. RBNY has enough problems, they do not need a Diva Altidore.

  72. pwip says:

    Let’s try this again. I think you got lazy. Do you feel obligated to get both side of the story? So you build your story around your inside sources. What is the next logical question? I believe if you did you job properly you should get an answer; a response on why he’s work ethic has deteriorated. Instead, I read inferences that were feed by your sources. I don’t know Jozy. Only of what I’ve read. And everything I ever read was this kid has always been dead serious about soccer and did everything that was ever asked of him. Where are his quotes? You’ve been playing soccer games of consequence for the last 2 years practically non-stop and your club just called you out in the press of being a lame duck. Do you have a response? There was a similar incident down here in Texas with an Al-Dia reporter link to 3rddegree.net. Have the guts to ask Jozy to his face.

  73. Andolini says:

    He’s 18, so there is no doubt he is distracted. It is the rare teenager who can focus on his job like a grown man with a mortgage and a wife and kids. Personally, I don’t see a lot of Eddie Johnson in him. I think he’ll be fine. But I’m 30, and if I were him, I would definitely be distracted by all the money and women in my future. And don’t tell me women (e.g., transvestite hookers) aren’t a distraction for footballers.

  74. Ted says:

    I stopped reading these posts after the first page, but Ives, you dug your own hole on not asking Jozy yourself about this. Reporting all sides of an issue is one of the first things you learn in college reporting classes. Jozy didn’t have a chance to respond to this. You know better.

    To the person who said it would be pointless to ask Jozy because he would never admit to slacking off, it doesn’t matter. You ask. It’s what reporter do. If they decline to comment, then you put that they declined to comment in the story.

    I’m majoring in sports journalism, and something you get drilled into your head every day is that you cover all sides of an issue.

    Personally, I agree with you that his body language and attitude on the field looks bad. He looks like Beasley looked a few years back, flat feet and lazy running.

    But you always give people a chance to respond to accusations (which is the nature of what your source said). Always. I’m shocked. And on one of the most prominent soccer news sites in the US. Shocking.

  75. alexandre says:

    adam m. I completely agree w u. jozy’s definitely got talent but the kid has in no way proven himself much as a player (at least not to be egotistic) since he’s only played in MLS which is no powerhouse league at all. I highly doubt he would have made it in madrid right now ( if in fact it was even true they were interested) and I think everyone here gives him too much hype. sorry.

  76. Thomas says:

    Ives,

    Dissapointed to see concerns on Altidore’s work ethic from RBNY.

    anyways, my question is why are you so willing to write a piece thats going after Jozy here but I see no journalism that is asking questions of Bob Bradleys personnel and tactical decisions in the England friendly? I mean he says he doesn’t bring Altidore for form but starts Eddie Johnson who hasn’t played at Fulham for a good while now and Josh Wolff who is now out of contract and starting him as a striker when he didn’t score a single goal for his club all year?

    Most of my problems with American soccer journalism is that nobody wants to ask the tough questions of some of the USSF and the national teams decisions, why is there no digging going on there, surely there have been many questionable decisions made but I see no questions from the press.

    You can say its just a friendly but we just got played off the field in one of our highest profile national team matches of the year and apparently were going to be playing the same team vs. Spain, surely they don’t expect any better of a result? Its on a Fifa International date but we bring back Wolff and EJ leaving strikes who are actually scoring goals like Jozy, Cooper and even Rogers (who can play forward). I think its important that somebody questions Bradleys decision to play with two inept strikers who haven’t scored for club or country in who knows how long and two defensive minded center mids

  77. Joe Quake says:

    Ives – I think hit job is a little strong, but I’m just not a fan of the piece nor the way Jozy was annointed by the US Soccer media a few months ago.

    FYI, I go to this site knowing there is going to be a Red Bulls slant on this blog. I know you are trying not to be a fan, but it does show through in your writing. I keep coming back though!

  78. jai says:

    what’s the latest on his transfer? He needs to move on.

  79. Nicole says:

    I can’t believe some of you people ragging on Ives for this story. It’s not like Ives has some track record of digging up dirt and writing about it. Ives has always been very honest in his stories.

    I have a feeling you’re upset because this puts a little damper on your fantasies that Jozy is The Perfect Player – great attitude, great skills, will lead us to the promised land and oh, he’ll fetch a 10 or 11 million dollar transfer fee and lead Real Madrid to Champions League glory year after year and US to World Cup Glory and look at how humble he is! i.e., vicariously live your life through him.

    Don’t shoot the messenger.

  80. NJ Guy Stuck in DC says:

    I think it’s bigger than Jozy. This is just the flip side of the transfer windows that the league and teams have to suck it up and deal with. Players have to deal with crap salaries and a chance to develop, and MLS has to deal with players who will leave in the summer (if they are smart) and need to look out for their own interests while playing out the string. Anyone who has ever been in negotitations for a new job gets distracted from their current one.

    Not everyone thinks Jozy is the second coming. But he is one of the few true forwards in the US pool. Wake me when you find another one who will command 8-12 million in transfer fee.

  81. Braden says:

    People do stupid things when their teams lose 5-1. Sometimes, this includes bad-mouthing a kid who’s emerged as the most visible star on an otherwise mediocre team. Unlike Adu, Altidore hasn’t been involved in a public dust-up with the coaches over how he’s being played, so it just seems really strange to me that someone associated with the club would take a swipe at him. This is especially true when every Red Bulls fan wants to see him play.

    And, as Ives is finding out, it’s difficult to criticize Altidore and have the allegation stick when he seemed like one of the only good things out on the pitch last week. This isn’t Adu, puttering around with the ball to no effect. Altidore is putting in goals, period.

  82. Steve T says:

    There is some funny stuff in these comments but Ted takes the cake. Oh well, I’m in college now and they teach us to do this. Hah. Kid, how about you keep learnin and leave the professional writing to the professionals.

    I read stories like this Jozy story ALL the TIME. If i’m not mistaken the story is a column, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure a column can take some liberties that a regular news story doesn’t. I also don’t get this whole “get Jozy’s side” argument. What is Jozy going to say exactly? How is a comment from Jozy really going to change the story? It wouldn’t have so for me I could care less that he isn’t in the story.

    Maybe some of you who only are in to soccer don’t get enough mainstream sports coverage to realize that this goes on all the time in every sport. Some of you may not like it, especially since Jozy’s supposed to be a savior and all, but ripping the story is stupid.

  83. Tom B says:

    Josie is probably just a bit burned out from a very long and competitive off season with the Olympic team. Same as Robbie Rogers after U20 World Cup. He was burnt out for about two months them caught on fire at the end of the season and is still going strong. Give him time.

    Or

    Like Danny Szetlea-he is distracted and is ready for a transfer to Europe.

  84. Jamie Z. says:

    Okay, seriously. Everyone: Josie is a Pussycat, not a Haitian-American soccer prodigy.

    It’s Jozy or Josmer.

  85. Bobo says:

    I remember when some US fans (read: delusional fanatics) were trying to claim that Jozy was as good a player as Alexandre Pato of AC Milan…

    Good times.

  86. Yakima Shorty says:

    I honestly don’t see a “dip in form.” Jozy leads Metro in goals despite limited playing time and being played out of position on the wings.

    If there is any performance drop off, I blame Osorio for playing him on the wings. It was a mistake last year when Arena played him wide and it’s a mistake this year. Jozy is clearly a natural striker who deserves to be slotted up top.

    I agree with Michael F. This story cried out for a quote from Jozy.

  87. understood says:

    i don’t buy the distracted tag. and also, since you’re so close to altidore, why would you write this story without getting a quote from him to get his take on it. it comes off like a rumor piece and it loses a little credibility since you’re so close to team and it would’ve been easier for you than other journalists to get jozy’s perspective.

    the only reason why jozy is getting criticism is because he isn’t scoring as many goals as people think he should…and a big part of the reason for that is a) he shouldn’t be playing as a left winger/forward…hes not robben or babel who has 1v1 dribble moves and high end speed to get past people…hes a striker through and through…and should be playing centrally…if he was playing up front with a strike partner he would look much more “motivated” because hed be scoring the goals to dispel all these crap rumors and whispers…some of which might be coming from people jealous about the hype he attracts as a teenager…b) he needs to make the move to europe…where the tactical awareness and technical ability is much higher…hed get better coaching…his game would improve more…and hed be playing on a better team who can give him better service in his perferred striker position…hed be back to scoring goals and looking like a great prospect again…

    Dear Jozy, please go abroad ASAP and leave all the jealous haters and clueless soccer hacks behind so you can take your game to the next level

  88. Bobo says:

    All Altidore’s got going for him is his size — his technique is very limited, so he should get out of MLS as soon as possible. But even Europe won’t make an Altidore into a Drogba or Eto’o. By age 15, a player has essentially acquired most of the technique that he’ll probably ever have, though tactical understanding often comes quite a bit later.

    I’m hoping that nobody around here actually believed that he would have seen a minute of playing time with Real Madrid when he was linked to them a while ago. Heck, he probably wouldn’t have seen much time at Villarreal either! He’s just not the complete package, though he certainly has the tools to outdo Brian McBride on the USMNT (although that isn’t saying much, I’m afraid).

  89. Richard says:

    yea, i got that adidas email too… he seemed fine there!

  90. Joe G says:

    I don’t think that this has been a slow start. Last year it was well into June before Altidore had his fourth goal. This year he already has three. This start is the same as last year, it is just more of a dissapointment this year.

  91. Pat the Red Bulls Fan says:

    Hey, Bobo, I’m one of those delusional fanatics you speak of. Take your elitist nonsense somewhere else. If you think you can come here and bash McBride and Altidore without a fight, you’re mistaken clown.

  92. Killa says:

    link to as.com

    Seems like Jozy has actually *gained* focus. I’m sorry, but part of being a “professional” is learning to be a good businessman. And if he can force this transfer to Villareal, he is definitely putting himself in a better financial and “footballistic” position.

    That the USMNT would punish him for wanting to improve his lot as a footballer is somewhat hypocritical, given the lip service that Bradley gives to people playing in the best leagues possible. It speaks to the NY/NJ soccer fraternity mentality, which will do more harm to the sport’s development as on a NATIONAL level.

  93. Andrew says:

    Ives,

    I must admit I could not agree with your story more. Something has happened to him obviously. He looked lackadaisical and completely out of sync in ALL the U-23 Olympic qualifier games. If I didn’t know who he was, I wouldn’t have even looked twice.

    To the readers: I truly believe someone’s “form” cannot change over a short period of time, but their attitude certainly can. We have seen this with Donovan on countless occasions. It sometimes literally looks as LD shows up and just “does not want to play”. On other times, he shows up, and is a HUGE impact. LD has admitted that he has grown up a lot since WC 2006, and it shows in his play.

    I don’t think Ives is criticizing Altidore as much as just pointing out an observation held by many, an observation not unique to Altidore. I want nothing more than Altidore to become the first ever “American world class striker”, but until he realizes his role and responsibilities, and is mature enough to accept them, its going to be a while till we see that!

  94. Andolini says:

    So Bobo, you’re telling me Altidore’s technique is limited? Compared to who? He’s not Maradona, but he’s got enough technique to do well in any of the top leagues. He showed very good technique at the u-20 world cup. And when you are that fast and strong, you don’t need exceptional technique — look at Chelsea’s players vs. Arsenal’s. Chelsea have finished higher than Arse the past three years.

  95. andrew says:

    Andolini

    AGREED! BoBo, just because he is a product of American “futbol” does not make him a lower class. He shone at the U20 world cup, as did his fellow teen star Adu (who was easily the best player at the tourney). He just needs some maturation, but yes, he will be as good as Pato! just wait!