Report: AZ coach cites lack of progress for Altidore’s benching

Altidore AZ (Reuters)

If you have been wondering why Jozy Altidore has been relegated to the bench for AZ Alkmaar, it looks like you now have an answer.

According to a report from the Netherlands, AZ manager Gertjan Verbeek has preferred to start Charlison Benschop over Altidore in recent weeks due to Altidore's lack of progress. Verbeek has insisted that he does not dislike Altidore, but he feels the club plays better with Benschop spearheading the attack.

After signing a four-year deal with AZ last summer, Altidore worked his way into a starting role with the club and got off to a hot start, scoring five goals in his first five games with the club. The U.S. international has since scored six goals across all competitions, but he has been used as more of a reserve since the start of the new year.

AZ currently is tied on points with Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven, but Altidore's team sits in second due to goal differential.

What do you make of Verbeek's words? Worried? Do you see Altidore winning back his starting spot before the season ends?

Share your thoughts below.

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78 Responses to Report: AZ coach cites lack of progress for Altidore’s benching

  1. 2tone says:

    I think it’s unfounded. Considering Jozy was the second highest leading goal scorer in all competitons on the team at the time of his benching. I think it comes down to the American stigma. Anyways, Jozy will just have to work through it and try to win his spot back. It’s not like Benschop has lit the world on fire since getting the nod for the starting role.

  2. Joe Creighton says:

    While Jozy has improved overall since joining AZ, I can see where Verbeek is coming from here. Jozy is good, not great. He really needs to push himself. He has talent and skill, but he needs the most important piece, the work ethic piece, to go with it.

  3. Sean says:

    As long as he’s getting into matches regularly. If not, then he needs to switch clubs during the summer. We need a striker playing regularly on the US team.

  4. Starla says:

    He got half a season to grow into it. Who’s playing 9 for AZ has minimal impact on their performance. No forward stars there and neither of them has been good. They’re completely dependent on the midfield.

  5. inkedAG says:

    Looks like someone may be coming back to MLS within a year….

  6. Brad says:

    I think Jozy gets too complacent and the coach is trying to motivate him.

  7. I wonder what type of progress he is expecting? I mean, I thought he improved quite a bit since he’s been there. His touch seems better, his combination play, his hold up play, and his finishing. It is interesting, I hope he gets back in the starting lineup before world cup qualifying starts.

  8. malkin says:

    Obviously he should be benched. I mean, after scoring 5 goals in the first 5 matches, he should clearly be progressing to the point where he scores 6, 7, or 8 goals in the next 5 matches.

  9. right answer says:

    just stop

  10. AC says:

    It’s only his first year there and he’s still young. Luckily, the Dutch are good at developing. But yes, Jozy needs to realize his laid back approach is good for hanging out with people, but not on the field. He definitely needs to push himself continuously and never settle for good enough. If only he could hang out with Dempsey much more and see what it means to never be content with good enough.

  11. wilyboy says:

    My guess is movement off the ball and tactical awareness. AZ tries to play the real dutch football, which is extremely complicated for forwards. Jozy has improved, but he’s always more comfortable with the ball than anticipating and where he should be before plays happen.

  12. JG13 says:

    I’m guessing that he’s looking for Jozy to put all of those things together? He definitely has shown improvement in all of the areas that you’ve mentioned but rarely does he exhibit each of those areas in a single match. His play still comes off as one dimensional, as if he’s focusing on a specific skill per outing.

  13. malkin says:

    And benschop is injured. Here ya go Josmer, do your thang.

  14. Andy says:

    Sounds like a motivational technique to me. I guess we’ll see how it turns out. I don’t see Jozy getting motivated by benching, but just the opposite. Hopefully I’m wrong though. He had been doing so well there!

  15. NE Matt says:

    Well this may all be null and void seeing that Benschop just got hurt in the first half of AZ’s Europa match and Jozy has come on

  16. Dinho says:

    On queue, Benschop suffers an injury and is subbed out for Jozy. Nice jinx, Franco.

  17. James says:

    Also I want to remind everyone that he is the same age as Shea.

  18. Mblafkin says:

    DING, DING, DING!

  19. Joe Creighton says:

    Good call.

    Although Shea has been developed somewhat later than Jozy, I predict he will have a much larger impact for his club and national team than Jozy ever will.

    He has the raw talent and desire to succeed. Jozy only has some of the talent and some of the desire.

  20. nato says:

    say it ain’t so.

    ALTIDORE is miles better than our other strikers and he’s on the bench. Not good at all

  21. bryan says:

    and Benschop just got subbed out injured before half time. Jozy in. take advantage of it Jozy!

  22. nato says:

    Jozy, you’re our best striker since McBride. We need you. Bunbury and Agudelo haven’t even shown they can succeed at the Concacaf level. Perhaps this Boyd kid can become the real deal within a few years, but Jozy is our no1 right now

  23. daniel says:

    “Lack of progress” Translation: Lazy! Why is it that the three amigos – Altidore, Adu, and Johnson have a reputation for being lazy, every team they play for we hear things being said about them that can be translated as “Lazy”?

  24. PD says:

    wow. Ives you must have seen this info and thought “clicky-nip.”

    Honestly, up or down I think that JA is at the perfect club for him right now as he’s playing for a manager that clearly gives a crap about his progress and has a sense of where he “could” be and isn’t afraid to push the guy.

  25. Polo says:

    He has like 1 or 2 goals in 3 months.

  26. Shounen Bat says:

    Agreed. Not saying that there isn’t a possibility that Jozy wasn’t working as hard in training as Verbeek would have liked, but you have to wonder if there is pressure to start a young, promising Dutch international over an American…

  27. Polo says:

    This is nothing new, lazy and unmotivated has been his MO at pretty much every club he’s been at.

    I don’t see the coach taking a “motivational” stand. He doesn’t think Jozy is good enough.

  28. BK says:

    I’ve been saying it for two years…you guys need to give up on Jozy. He is not the player most of you think he is. Not international caliber.

  29. Guest says:

    He is obviously international caliber talent. Otherwise he could not have the stunning moments of brilliance he has. We’ve seen his quality with our own eyes. That said, I think he’s something much worse than untalented and I am of the opinion that it’s time for the national team to move beyond Jozy. Every manager he works with concludes that he doesn’t put in the effort and doesn’t have the requisite attitude to maximize his skills. He isn’t developing and it’s down to laziness. It’s too bad as he may have had the potential to be truly world class. I’m hopeful this will all be moot by 2014 however as we’ve got a shot of any one of 5 or 6 guys with a lot of potential continuing to develop into valuable attacking options.

  30. Braden says:

    But this message seems to not sink in with him. I get very angry with him. How can he not learn his lesson when the entire world understands his problem?

  31. Red White & Blue Porker says:

    Interesting how you single them out…seems somewhat racist

  32. Art says:

    Jozy came in at the 44th minute and still did not register a shot on goal in the game…Yeah, I know, hold up play, but come on…He’s a striker!!!

  33. marco says:

    In the Anderlecht game Jozy played well, made some nice passes, but never received one pass in return. Coach needs to look at his wingers for their poor play today.

  34. tjones says:

    I think the coach is trying to use this to motivate Jozy who has been a very streaky player this year (which is to be expected since this is his first year in a completely newh football system). This happens to the best of strikers, heck mourinho relegated benzema to the bench last year for a similar reason and was far more critical of him at the time than Verbeek is now with JA.

  35. Kishan Jeter says:

    A good friend of mine is an excellent pool player. Only problem is, he doesn’t have the drive to play and thus rarely plays. He’s given a talent that he doesn’t have the drive to pursue. With Jozy, he’s definitely talented and he is working in an area regarding his craft. His problem, he doesn’t have the drive to improve. He’s mature in physical stature but immature still in mentality. He’s easily stumped by coaches, disgruntled fans, etc. It’s normal. When something comes easy to people they take it for granted and when it comes hard, they cherish it and work harder. Wayne Rooney is a perfect example of someone with good talent, recognizes it, and works even harder to perfect it. Jozy could be that guy. The other spectrum is Lionel Messi. A man with god like talent, recognizes it, and works even harder to be better than the Gods. Not everyone thinks like Wayne or Lionel, that’s why they’re the top of the soccer world and Jozy isn’t.

  36. Wm. says:

    Look, I was at the KC Stadium in Hull a couple (few?) seasons ago and watched Jozy all game up close. By the 65th minute or so he was wheeling up, trying to catch his breath. I was shocked that a player in the EPL could be having such a problem with fitness.

    I am not really sure what Jozy’s issue is, but this is a great chance for him to put it all together. Were I him, I’d do everything I could to please this manager with regard to training and fitness, and force my way into the starting line-up.

    My hope is that tjones’ reading of the situation is correct.

  37. davo12 says:

    I’m dying to see Jozy do well and he’s a great athlete… But, to date, he’s looked more like a bull in a china shop than a great striker. His work rate is OK but he’s been clumsy on the ball. Ouch! Sorry, Josy.

  38. RLW2020 says:

    jumping to conclusions a bit? those 3 players have had similar critique over the years..not saying its true or not..

  39. fs says:

    I think Jozy has all the talent he needs to be successful. What he seems to lack is the drive play every moment at his peak. This is what happens when the game gets competitive for the players. The competition for match day slots is intense. Jozy obviously hasn’t proved to his manager that he’s worthy of a starting role every day, and that probably affects his confidence when he does get on the field. Just take a look at how Donovan played at Everton and Dempsey plays at Fullham. Those guys know they have to bring their best every touch!

  40. daniel says:

    @ Red White and Blue – Not racist, just a fact. Of all the usmnt players, these three have been playing for a different team each of the last three years. Everywhere they go they are labeled as “lazy”. Might be that generation of players out of U.S. Soccer Development Academy in Florida…? I don’t know just a guess…

  41. MTs says:

    he is big and strong but has poor soccer skills

  42. Drew_ROC says:

    Chaching…there’s the moneyball folks.

    BUT there always is the Brian Factor (McBride and Ching that is) the off the ball work, which Jozy just isn’t that enthusiastic about doing. Which is probably where the coach is going. The forward for AZ is more of the 1st line of defense or an offensive decoy for the mf. If Jozy isn’t interested in that role, I can’t hold it against the coach for benching him.

  43. The Imperative Voice says:

    If his prime competition for PT just came off hurt this whole discussion is probably a moot point, at least until the injury is over.

    That being said, AZ is fighting for first place, and you gotta look for every edge you can find. Yes, Jozy has scored several goals, but AZ has scored 45 so far just in the Eredivisie. And there are teams in their neighborhood with 57, 58 GF. It’s mindblowing because an MLS team scoring at that rate would have like 100+ goals a season, but that’s fastbreak Eredivisie ball. Which is why even Bradley had like 15 years back….which he’s never come close to since.

    I know the numbers are like wow but maybe the coach thinks Jozy should have more like 15 or the team more like 60…like the teams they are competing with. Some dude named Dries Mertens has 18 goals in all competitions for PSV; Bas Dost has 19 for Heerenveen. Luuk de Jong has 18 for Twente.

    IMO if Jozy is not going to score like that — and you could argue about how good his finishing is, I think he’s decent but pretty sloppy for an international — then he better be a good combination/holdup player, to make up for the lower goalscoring. I see 1 assist and my general impression has always been that he’s a 1-on-1 freelancer more than a reliable back to goal type someone else can work off of. Too lumbering, not clean enough touch. Not as bad as EJ but no McBride. At which point if that’s staying the same maybe you crab to the press that there’s a lack of progress.

    I think it’s great he’s getting some PT and obviously Holland is a place to go and score — defense seems optional — but Altidore is such a big body that I think coaches see “striker” and then get disappointed he plays smaller, like more of a player who runs at people from the wing.

  44. Daniel says:

    Just checked, Adu, Altidore, Johnson all came out of the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Thank god they have changed the developement academy system. In today’s developement academies there’s much more competition, this will force the skilled players to work harder and not be lazy!

  45. GSScasual says:

    new to this game?

  46. daniel says:

    Maybe he should stop working-out? Spend that extra time working on his finish… lol He needs a sports psychiatrist.

  47. Jesus says:

    I think it’s pretty much the same story everywhere he goes. After a while ALL his managers realize he’s not all that and he starts losing favor. He would be far better off coming back to MLS and getting some real playing time then chasing the dream in Europe…it’s just not working

  48. CroCajun says:

    Yes. This is likely a tactical move from the coach to motivate him. It seems the coach wants his two young forwards pushing each other for playing time. Sounds like he’s more trying to light a fire under Jozy then push him away.

    Hopefully in the next few years Jozy will mature into the professional we all want him to be.

  49. PurpleGold says:

    agreed. in 2 or 3 years he should be bagging 9 or 10 a match. Anything less and he’ll be stagnate. No team will want him and we shouldnt waste our time with him on the NATS.

  50. CroCajun says:

    It’s funny that Jozy a 22 year old player for AZ getting minutes in Europa League games is washed up, yet Terrence Boyd, a 21 year old player for a German reserve team is the future.

    SBI math. Someone explain it to me.

  51. daniel says:

    Adu tried that but his lazy *ss was benched in MLS too. Players of this caliber can not get by on skill alone. Johnson, Adu and Altidore have a very poor work ethics!

  52. Thorpinski says:

    Coming bck to MLS would be a huge mistake. He needs to stay in Europe and continue to compete for PT.

    I know some coaches had opined on his training habits but based on his improved play I would not but him in the category as Adu or Johnson. Honestly without seeing him on a daily to weekly basis how can anyone truely know if he’s working hard or not.

    Maybe it’s me, but Jozy strikes me as a fairly mature person with a laid back personality which can be mistaking for ” lazy or carefree.”

  53. marco says:

    When your best passer on attack is the central striker the problem is elsewhere. If AZ’s scoring is down, its not all Benchop or Jozy. Today Jozy was the best passer on attack. The wingers were rubbish. Jozy set up some nice opportunities and never received a decent pass even when wide open. He’ll do fine with Landon and Deuce.

  54. Dinho says:

    Let’s not get carried away… “poor” soccer skills? Okay, he’s not the MOST skillful striker in the game, but his skills are hardly “poor”

  55. The Imperative Voice says:

    The “work ethic” thing has to be code because Altidore, then Adu, then Johnson can provide something despite not looking like Landon, and would likely do so in the order I just listed them. Jozy would be a 10 goal-plus star in MLS…he had 9 for NY in his first big season there. Adu and then Johnson are more limited players. But Adu had a pair of assists on Dallas for the U-23s. So, work ethic my tush. They’re not skinnybones cross country runners but I’d take Altidore on my team tomorrow, and Adu may very well adorn the Olympic squad. So they’re hardly chopped liver.

    Lazy players and you never mention Rafa?

  56. marco says:

    Ive watched a few AZ games and disagree with the coach. Jozy has progressed. Today Jozy should have chewed out his supporting cast for poor service, not one return ball. Maher, Holman, Elms, and Beerens are on a down slide. I worry that Jozy will stop passing and cutting knowing that he’ll not get a return pass. Step up coach, Jozy won’t chew them out.

  57. CroCajun says:

    My criticism of him has always been that he isn’t more aggressive with balls in the air. A striker with his physical gifts should be a nightmare on crosses.

  58. GW says:

    US fans seem to be unable to view Jozy with any kind of sobriety.

    If he scores a few goals, he has finally “arrived”.

    If he misses a few sitters he is unskilled, stupid and lazy.

    He bounces around for a bit and is still trying to find the right professional situation and every time he hits a rough patch, it is “he needs to come back to MLS”. As if that would solve anything.

    If he is lazy then playing in a league with less competition is sure to make him work harder.

    If he is stupid and needs to develop more skills then, again, playing in an inferior league will give him that right?

    You should all read Earnie Stewart’s take on Jozy in his recent interview.

    Earnie knew Jozy was a “project” when he signed him. He knew he was deficient in many soccer skills and intangibles. But he felt AZ, who are good at developing players, could make a better, more complete all around player out of him.

    This benching is pretty routine, probably overdue and no big deal. In fact, Jozy was not supposed to play this much this soon but the goal-scoring run was hard to ignore.

    Unless Jozy completely flames out I don’t see him going anywhere, nor should he if he knows what is good for him.

  59. skyman says:

    Well said Kishan

  60. skyman says:

    Good point actually. Being in a reserve role as striker is still impressive for a team such as AZ.

  61. skyman says:

    To spin your point a bit, anyone who is pushing to be on the first squad, and at striker as well, for Dortmund is impressing me already. The games I’ve seen Dortmund play they have been a joy to watch; quite fluid really, and doing very well in the Bundesliga again!

  62. skyman says:

    I think Jozy will have much more of an impact than Shea. Look at what Jozy did against Spain, holding off Puyol to score like he did. Jozy will be good for the Nats in the upcoming years me thinks.

  63. canabyX says:

    Jozy is on the bench because he is lazy. He has all the physical gifts but doesn’t seem to have what it takes to bring it to the next level. I’m glad Terrence Boyd was called up. I think we should have called up CJ Sapong too. If Jozy is the future of our offense we are screwed. … “He can’t shoot, he can’t score, he’s jogging Jozy Altidore.”

  64. ryan says:

    none of the people on this board actually read the statistics. He has NEVER in his career scored over 9 goals except for this year. If he could score another three goals or so in the eredivise that would be a monster year for him. I think the coach is just trying to motivate him knowing that he needs him to score at least 3-6 goals in league play for the team to win the title. Who wouldve thought that Jozy after striking out in EPL and la liga would even have 11 goals in all competitions this season? When was the last time a US striker outside of dempsey scored over 10 goals in a mid major and or major league in europe? Probably Mcbride. Most of the people on this board have no idea what the 20 home run 30 home run 40 home run equivalents are in europe with respect to goals scored.(i would say Jozy is on pace for a 20-25 hr season for all Americans out there; how is this a bad year?) ppl are quick to say that someone is washed up or trash when they are having a pretty decent year.

  65. Brett says:

    I see a lot of assumptions being made about Jozy’s character. He wasn’t simply born with all of this ability and strength. He’s clearly a hard worker.

    I think his manager is being forthright and truthful, and it is to Jozy’s benefit. I think he’s improved as a player tremendously since he left NYRB, specifically in his support play, but that isn’t enough. At the highest levels you must always be improving.

    This is pure speculation, but I believe the “progress” being referred to has much more to do with fitness and stamina more than any mental aspect of his game. Jozy’s huge frame is a liability because it means he must expend more energy to move all those bulky muscles. The harder he works in terms of his running, the faster he gets winded, the earlier we see him standing with his hands on his hips (if you’ve ever played soccer at any competitive level you know this is a HUGE ‘no-no’)

    Ever wonder why most world class soccer players aren’t built like linebackers?

  66. MicahK says:

    I am laughing at all you SBI Jozy Alitdore haters. You all think that Jozy is lazy. He is not he jogs his but off every game. Also, Jozy is not a 90 minute guy he gives it his all until he cannot anymore. He is a very good player and you all bashing him is ridiculous.

  67. ben in el cajon says:

    Thank you for thinking.

  68. Isaac says:

    That was actually Capdevilla.

  69. Isaac says:

    Maybe that’s down to his team’s lack of ability to create even a half chance…

  70. Isaac says:

    Yeah the kid can defintely take people on the dribble pretty well if you ask me.

  71. Warren says:

    Jozy is still a ‘project’ by Dutch League standards, according to Earnie Stewart.

    We’ve all seen games where Jozy stands around, does not hustle to a ball a few meters away or doesn’t bother to to challenge a defender with the ball. And looks winded after 70 minutes. I don’t watch enough AZ to know if that is what is happening, but it seems a safe bet. Remember the Hull coach criticized him for same thing.

    Doesn’t mean AZ will give up on the Jozy project; but to me it does mean it is ill-advised to assume Jozy is the automatic starter for the USMNT first team.

    Frankly I’d love to see Boyd leapfrog past Jozy to a start against Italy on Wednesday. Yeah I know straight from Bundesliga reserves….of first place team.

    THAT would maybe teach Jozy a lesson about taking advantage of opportunities. Jozy can come on around 70th minute and run hard for 20 minutes ; ).

  72. Todd says:

    I’ve said this for years. All his life he’s been big strong and fast, now that so is everyone else he doesn’t have the heart to get the cardio nor does he have the heart to truly fight on the pitch for balls like American greats Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey…or even potential greats like Charlie Davies!

  73. Todd says:

    Dempsey is our best striker since mcbride!

  74. Todd says:

    It’s definitely motivational. He said jozy wasn’t progressing as rapidly as ahe liked, not that he couldn’t or he didn’t want to. Pure office management strategy by the manager: let a talented employee know that because he’s talented you expect more from him and then watch him either rise to the challenge and have greater impact or fall down because he wasn’t as ready to make the jump as the manager thought!

  75. Todd says:

    If he and I were the same size, he’d lose out to me n every fifty fifty ball and I’d strip him of the ball when he started with it, and I never even played in college!

  76. Todd says:

    Soccer has more in common with cross country running than you want to admire though!