After three trying years in Europe, Jozy Altidore finally found a place that felt right, and a club that gave him the chance he had been working so hard for. The result has been a return to the goal-scoring ways that made Altidore such a highly-regarded prospect as a teenager with the New York Red Bulls.
Altidore enjoyed a dream season with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, scoring 22 goals in all competitions, and finishing tied for seventh in the Eredivisie. Not everything worked out perfectly though. AZ blocked Altidore from joining U.S. national team camp on time, wanting him to get some rest after a long season. That move set his fitness level back for the national team by several weeks and ultimately costing him his starting place on the national team for the recent World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.
Though clearly unhappy with the circumstances, Altidore took it all in stride and is now focused on what lies ahead as he prepares for his next season in the Netherlands, and the remaining World Cup qualifying cycle, which he is intent on regaining his starting spot for.
Here is my FOX Soccer feature on Jozy Altidore, which covers Altidore discussing topics ranging from his relationship with AZ manager Gertjen Verbeek to being benched for the recent USMNT qualifiers. Altidore also discussed his critics, which he has more of than most 22-year olds.
Here are some outtakes from my extensive interview with Altidore:
ALTIDORE ON HIS FAILED LOAN AT XEREZ (where he never actually got to play)
It was definitely strange. I was told I was going to go there and play. It was supposed to be a media type thing. They had never been in the Primera Division and I was going to go there and help them get there. It’ll be great for me. Then I land there and I’m told from the get-go that I’m not going to play. It was a tough situation for me, but it taught me that everything isn’t always what it seems.
ALTIDORE ON DEVELOPING HIS HOLD-UP PLAY AT HULL CITY
I think I gained and lost a bit. When I was younger and coming up with the Red Bulls, I was running at people, but since I’ve come to Europe I’ve had to become a hold-up player just because you have to be able to hold up the ball if you want to get minutes. I think when I went to Hull that part of my game really became a lot better.
ALTIDORE ON VILLARREAL, AND AZ
I went to Villarreal and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, or what they told me it was going to be like. I feel a world better (at AZ), finally being in a great place.
ALTIDORE ON HIS DUTCH 'ACCENT'
Sometimes when you’re talking, especially with people that don’t understand English, you have to talk how they talk so they understand what you’re saying. It’s not certainly that I’m growing this Brad Friedel thing. That’s not happening man. It’s just that if they talk to you in a funny way, and you talk to them (with an American accent) they’re like ‘huh?’, so you have to throw that kind of flip on it so they can understand it.
ALTIDORE ON THE BOND WITH HIS USMNT COMPETITION
You’re always fighting for your position, that’s obvious, but I think with the national team it’s more a team-oriented thing. It’s different on a club team. You’re kind of out for yourself. It’s still team-oriented, but then guys can be gone next year. With the national team, you’re with these guys for the next 10 years so you have that connection.
ALTIDORE ON NOT BEING ABLE TO JOIN THE RECENT USMNT CAMP IN TIME
I wanted to be there with the guys because I wanted to get the best out of it, but there was nothing I could do because my club said no. I couldn't even go train with a club team or anything because of the legal things and risking an injury.