After club success and national team struggles in 2012, Altidore seeks consistency in new year

BY DAVE MARTINEZ

On the club level, Jozy Altidore couldn’t ask for a better 2012. He currently leads his side with 11 goals, is second in assists (3), first in minutes played, top of the list with shots on goal and has become an invaluable part of the AZ Alkmaar system.

The same can’t necessarily be said on the National stage. Though his assist against Italy contributed largely to one of the most talked about results of the year, and his recent outing against Russia was inspired, his stats under the Jurgen Klinsmann regime are less impressive.

The dichotomy of his situation has Altidore aiming high for the new year.

“I’m just trying to be consistent, that’s my biggest thing,” Altidore told SBI. “I always said to myself coming into this year I just want to be consistent and kind of help the team anyway I can and be a consistent scoring threat. Now, I had done that for most of 2012 (with AZ) and I have the challenge of taking that into next year and trying to do the same thing for the second half of the season.”

Altidore was off to a blazing start in the first half of the Eredivisie season, but situations weren’t positive on all fronts. Even as he led AZ with seven goals in eight matches to kick off the campaign, Klinsmann elected not to call up Altidore for two crucial World Cup Qualifying semi-final matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala.

The exclusion shocked many in U.S. Soccer circles. Despite his lack of production under Klinsmann, Altidore is widely considered one of the very best forward options for the National Team.

The news didn’t really stir the young striker.

“I wasn’t shocked at all,” he recounted. “I think that it’s normal when you have a National Team that has a lot of good players. Sometimes you just don’t get called in. It’s just the way of the beast. I wasn’t shocked at all. I just used it as a way that I can use to work harder and try to get back to the team.”

Many speculated that was the reasoning behind Klinsmann’s decision in the first place. As it turns out, Altidore may agree with that sentiment. “He just wants to push everybody,” he said. “He just wants everybody to be the best he can be and I am no different. He just wants everybody, all his players to kind of push more and more. His message he sent across to all the players. He always wants to push us to be better – that’s all he is trying to do.”

When asked about the differences between the former Bob Bradley regime and Klinsmann’s reign, Altidore gave a rounded view of the situation.

“I think Bradley – we were with Bradley a long time – he obviously had more of an understanding of all the players, what he expected, how we are going to play,” he recalled. “I think we are still trying to find ourselves a bit with Klinsmann. Hopefully we can do that as soon as we can. With the hex coming around, hopefully the guys that are a part of that team can kind of put the pieces together.

“I think it’s still a work in progress and I still think we are trying to understand each other better.”

While he tries to streamline his production on both ends of the playing spectrum, his club play continues to garner the most attention. Last summer he was the subject of considerable interest, and another strong season will only make the list of top European clubs interested in his services a longer one.

“The interest is nice but at the same time I’m just worried about my AZ play,” he explained. “I’m obviously not thinking about that. I am just worried about AZ and playing there. Just trying to be a part of what they have moving forward. I am really comfortable there. The team has big plans for the future and if AZ wants me to be a part of those plans, I’d love to be a part of those plans. I’m just trying to improve myself as a player and build on what we’ve done the last two years.

“I have a great relationship with the coach,” he continued. “It’s an honest relationship. He is the type of guy that likes people to speak out with their actions. He respects that I work hard. He makes sure he has good vets in the team and everybody knows what to expect out of him and he expects us to know what to expect from him.

“We just try to play soccer. If you watch any of our games, we just play out of the back, try to bring out the opponent, we play soccer. It’s kind of two-three touch game and all around patience and when you get to the final thirty, you try to express yourself.”

That expression has allowed Altidore to blossom. Though his goals aren’t always of the highlight variety, they do exhibit signs of growth. He has developed an admirable left footed shot, become smarter off the ball and his awareness, as exhibited with the aforementioned assist against Italy, all point to the continued maturation of this 23 year old striker.

As the New Year approaches, Altidore will look to build on what he has already accomplished.

“Short and long term goals? To be healthy,” he said. “I just want to do that. I believe in my ability and I know if I am healthy through good or bad stretches, I think I can be successful. And just looking at it, I just want to be able to build upon what I’ve done over the past two years. Be consistent and keep it going in the right direction.”

This entry was posted in Americans Abroad, Featured, U.S. Men's National Team, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to After club success and national team struggles in 2012, Altidore seeks consistency in new year

  1. A says:

    “It’s an honest relationship.”
    “He respects that I work hard.”

    You’ve made some progress, but dude at least be honest in your interviews. Your coach has called you out in the press several times for not working hard.

    Also, taking a shot at Klinsmann and saying he doesn’t know how to use players?

    My word this kid DOES NOT LEARN.

    • Camjam says:

      Where was the insult?

      Honestly, I think this interview shows a lot of growth. Clearly, the first 2 people to post here disagree. If you’ve seen him play for AZ lately, you can be sure his work and effort is not their problem. He relayed that his coach respects him because he works hard to fix problems in his game (which he clearly has).

      And let’s look at what I assume you are saying was the insult: “I think we are still trying to find ourselves a bit with Klinsmann. Hopefully we can do that as soon as we can. With the hex coming around, hopefully the guys that are a part of that team can kind of put the pieces together”

      I think we’re still finding ourselves a bit: True. JK has admitted as such. It’s not a insult to say that players/coaches are feeling each other out still.
      Hopefully the guys that are a part of the team can put the pieces together: Insult? How? by showing humility, and not assuming your call up? To wish the team does well, whether you are a part or not? He also says he has no problems, and will do everything he can to be part of the team.

      too much eggnog for you guys.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      Jozy was indeed called out in the very early stages of his first season with a new club and manager in a new league. The key point is that it was an explanation for why he was not getting consistent time starting. Coaches do this. It’s called feedback and doesn’t mean it is a static situation or brand for life, it is a new coach/player relationship being formed and expectations being established. A lot of time has passed and JA has clearly heard and responded to the initial assessment and become a key productive part of the starting core of this team which says all you need to know about what Verbeek thinks of Jozy’s work ethic. The man suffers no fools or poor work habits, period. Clearly, this kid DOES learn.

      As for the perceived slight against JK? There is none unless you are b**tthurt and looking really hard for one. JA goes on at length that Kilnsman is pushing his guys because he has high expectations and only wants to get the best out of them. JK’s message hit the mark and was taken in the right light. When prodded about what the difference between Bradley and Klinsman is, he states the obvious- that JK doesn’t know the player pool as well because he has worked with them a fraction of the amount of time that Bradley did.

    • Al says:

      You act as if he’s lying about JK not knowing how to use players. The man who wants to US to go out and score more goals yet uses 3 DM players…. Sounds about right to me…

  2. JoeSchmoe says:

    Sigh.

    Jozy, good run for the club this year, but honestly just don’t talk to the press because you don’t get it. Insulting your coach again? Id say the results this year especially concering the injuries and absences indicate that Klinsman has a very good grasp on player abilitues and how he can mix and match. That’s just not smart.

    • A says:

      For real. It’s like come on man you just got a call up and coach praised your work on the pitch and your next big English interview you try and disguise an insult by saying your old coach understood how to use players and that the players have to figure that out under the new guy?

      Get this kid a PR guy if that’s what it takes, but if he thinks trying to veil that how he did with the wording is not going to be noticed he’s silly.

  3. Mike says:

    To A and Joe get over yourselves you sound more foolish then what your’re trying to make Jozy sound. He didn’t say anything out of the ordinary

    • A says:

      He said it.

      It’s right there to read. Get over yourself and take the blinder off.

      • ZZ says:

        “I think Bradley – we were with Bradley a long time – he obviously had more of an understanding of all the players, what he expected, how we are going to play,” he recalled. “I think we are still trying to find ourselves a bit with Klinsmann. Hopefully we can do that as soon as we can. With the hex coming around, hopefully the guys that are a part of that team can kind of put the pieces together.

        I see a player saying that the pieces are just settling in. This is not a slight to Klinsman in any way, he’s just saying that relationships between player and coach are still evolving. If you find that insulting, you must have skin about as thick as paper.

        And in an above comment, you say that Altidore should “at least be honest” with regards to positive things Jozy said to Klinsmann. So, if I have this straight, the positive things Jozy says are lies, meaning he should say negative things…. and the neutral, insightful things he says are thinly veiled insults. Your logic is mind numbingly convoluted. The only blinders here are on your sense of logic.

      • Dennis says:

        He said nothing about Klinsmann has not said about players and coach learning about each other. Bradley was with the Nats over 5 years, no surprise he would know the players better.

      • Alex says:

        No, he didn’t. You’re reading far too much into his comments. Take YOUR blinders off. Jozy has grown and matured a lot, despite haters like yourself.

      • Hogatroge says:

        Your negativity and lack of reading comprehension skills is a bad mix.

  4. David M says:

    They must’ve edited the article since A and Joe read it. I’m not seeing anything insulting to Klinsmann there. After all, Klinsmann is not a coach yet — he’s just learning to be one. Let’s hope he learns fast.

    • A says:

      Klinsmann isn’t a coach? So he didn’t return Germany to the world stage and wasn’t at Bayern? Good to know it’s all a lie that only you know the truth about.

      Who are you? Nobody.

      • David M says:

        Klinsmann returned Germany to the world stage? And where were they before Klinsmann?

        Let’s see…before Klinsmann, Germany took second place at WC-2002. With Klinsmann, Germany took third place at WC-2006, at home. Oh yeah, he returned them to world stage. Great progress.

        And of course 10 months at Bayern, alienating players and the board alike, qualifies as great success.

        • Andy says:

          Does anyone in the USA care what the spoiled brats at Bayern think, other than spoiled brat Bayern fans? What happened at Euro 2004? Was the German public happy with the performance at WC-2006, losing in extra time to the champions Italy in the semifinals?

          (No, they went out at the group stage, Yes)

          Who are you? Nobody.

        • T-lover says:

          Before Klinsmann, Germany was on the decline,he over achieve, and silence critics that thought Germany would do nothing at the World cup. Klinsmann rebuild Germany and their system, and the credit was given to Joachim Löw. Since Klinsman, Löw has had more talent then ever, and hasn’t got the job done.At Bayern Muchen, even though he had won five of the previous seven league games and was behind VfL Wolfsburg,by only 3 points he was fired. The same place Bayern Muchen finished last year to Borussia Dortmund.

      • Ryan says:

        Yo, how’d that go at Bayern, anyway?

    • jlm says:

      just like people holding labels over jozy’s head is unfair, saying that klinsmann is not a coach is just as unfair. is he learning a little on the job? sure, but as a national team coach from another country who is trying to get the team to play in a completely different way, of course there is going to be a long transition period. the effects should start taking shape now that he has had time to see the entire pool and had some games and camps to assert his style, so now we can start to really evaluate klinsmann’s approach on the field. if you ask me, the only aspect we could really judge up to this point is his management style and plan for getting familiar with players. to me, he has done that. he has learned the pool sufficiently bringing on a few new players, and he has stuck to his core beliefs and philosophy.

  5. bottlcaps says:

    Jozy Altidore is a good striker in a good League. He is not the best striker in the best League. He is young and is learning well and takes what he learns to the field. He is extremely athletic and strong as well as fast. All-in-all he will eventually become one of the best strikers the US has produced. As good as he is as a striker, Michael Bradley scored closer to 25 goals in a season, in all competitions, in the same Dutch league, and he was a MIDFIELDER, who played a lot of defense!!

    Jozy Altidore needs to learn to play in all formations, needs to put pressure on the backline when he does not have the ball, and most importantly, he has NOT learned to play the lone forward effectively for the USMNT. He is wonderful when paired with one or even two forwards. I have said this before, he has all the gifts to play in a lone forward but until he learns and uses his talents in this formation. he will always be a second choice. And if another young new “power” forward eclipses Jozy in the next year, he may even miss the WC.

    • Tyler K says:

      I believe the total that you attributed to Bradley was in all competitions. Jozy wasn’t far off that pace last season

    • Zeelite says:

      Bradley scored 20 in all competitions that season. Jozy scored 19. Bradley played the whole match. Jozy was usually subbed by the 65, 70th min. Its odd though that once he went through a goal scoring streak from Feb-May, AZ began to lose their league matches.

  6. Jason says:

    Just play, kid.

  7. Skeeter says:

    Loads of ink on this fella and not a lot in return

    • Zeelite says:

      top scoring Yank in a top8 Euro leaguen Quite likely will end up being top. American goalscorer in Europe

  8. az says:

    I can never understand all the negativity. If you like the player then enjoy the comments and insight into the player. If you do not, then move on and find a player you do like. And if you are here saying negative things for the sake of seeing others react, carry on somewhere else, there are plenty of other places to do so, places where you can find more people like yourself. As for Jozy, keep up the hard work!

  9. robbo says:

    Cozy plays with guys who know how to read the game, pass the ball into space and attack. I can’t say the same about the USA midfielders. Maybe if Klinsman take his brain out of his ads he’ll see that the USA needs an attacking technical midfielder on the field at the start of each game. It appears Klinsman has a complex with certain players who have prominent role on European Teams. He kept
    Bradley and Dempsey at a distance initially. The USA has great players. It will take a Coach without ego to place the best players together and have them playing as a unit. It may not be Klinsman. Why does he refuse to play the younger players? Mexico, Brazil, Netherlands, England and other good Teams aren’t.

  10. Michael F SBI Mafia Original says:

    I don’t really see anything in this interview that we haven’t read before. Seems like a missed opportunity, Dave.

  11. Tom Traubert says:

    I just don’t get the hate some “fans” have for Jozy. The guy is still young and learning. He has persevered through difficult club situations. He is improving. Imagine if he had declared for Haiti instead…there would be mass envy/recriminations about how we let one of the best strikers in the Eredivise get away.

  12. biff says:

    I think Jozy should have been asked about his infamous Tweet in September (apparently alluding to Klinsmann): “Love when people try to blame others for their own short comings and incompetence…”

    I would like to know whether Jozy regrets the tweet and whether or not he personally apologized to Klinsmann for it. And I think the Tweet was why Klinsmann did not call up Jozy for the Antigua/Barbuda and Guatemala WCQ’s in October. So it is obvious that Jozy was not “shocked at all” by the snub from Klinsmann after publicly calling him incompetent.

    Unlike some of the posters above, I don’t see Jozy’s comments about Klinsmann as being insulting. But it seems clear to me that there is no warmth emanating from Jozy for Klinsmann. I mean the door was wide open for Jozy to say some sweet things about JK and he didn’t.

    • Michael F. says:

      +1

    • GW says:

      “I would like to know whether Jozy regrets the tweet and whether or not he personally apologized to Klinsmann for it.”

      That’s none of your business

      Warmth between a player and his manager is unneccessary and unimportant in relation to productivity. The likes of David Beckham and Roy Keane hardly had warm feelings for SAF during their tenures at Man. United and they were reasonably productive.

      It doesn’t matter whether Jozy would invite JK to his wedding. I doubt Jozy would invite Verbeek, who has called Jozy “stupid” in print, to his wedding but he is certainly producing for him.

      And that is really all that matters.

      • biff says:

        I do agree that a snuggly warm buddy friendship between a coach and player is not important, and probably in most cases would be counter-productive. And I will add that I do respect Jozy for not using this interview as an opportunity to publicly kiss Klinsmann’s bu**, as some players sometimes do.

        But I strongly disagree that it is not the business of USMNT fans to know how Jozy feels about the tweet and whether he apologized. I was shocked at the tweet and I would not hold it against Klinsmann to never call up Jozy again. We do not need that kind of disruptive attitude in the USMNT locker room or on the field. All that said, if Jozy truly regrets publicly criticizing the coach and if he has apologized and asked, so to speak, for forgiveness and promised to never do it again and to be a total team player and do whatever it takes for the team to win, then I, as a USMNT fan, can respect Jozy and be on good terms with him again.

        I have always been a fan of Jozy. But that tweet, plus his lazy play in the WCQ match against Guatemala in June, when he stopped running in front of an open goal to receive the pass from Mikey Bradley for an easy goal that would have been the winning goal in a game that ended up a draw, well, that has me worried. Plus, the incident in the Russia friendly in November, when Jozy stepped into Danny Williams on the quick free kick with the ball deflected for a Russia goal–well, that also was not cool and poor Williams was being wrongly blamed for that when it was Jozy’s fault. There was never an explanation of why Jozy would do something so silly.

        My point is that I think there are still some unanswered questions and some question marks hanging over Jozy going into the Hex WCQ campaign next year. He is definitely not a sure bet to be on the roster. It will be interesting to see how Klinsmann plays it for the Feb. 6 match at Honduras. And, obviously, In Klinsmann We Trust, meaning that if Klinsmann feels Jozy should be on the team, or vice versa, I will feel comfortable with either decision–until proven otherwise…

        • GW says:

          You don’t get to decide what JK finds disruptive or offensive.

          Unless he has referenced it specifically you don’t know if JK had a problem with that specific tweet.

          And you don’t get to decide what he chooses to do about it if he does find something inappropriate.

          Whatever Jozy and JK choose to keep between themselves is their business and none of your affair.

      • dikranovich says:

        GW, warmth in a soccer relationship might not be necessary, but respect definitely is. ferguson held keane in the highest regard and that is why he made him captain. their relationship may have fallen apart, but that is after respect for one and other was lost.

  13. GW says:

    dkranovich,

    What is your point? I never said anything about the Cork Assassin not having respect for the boss during Keane’s playing days.

    • dikranovich says:

      i was just correcting your false analogy about keane, beckham, and ferguson.

      • GW says:

        What’s false about it?

        • dikranovich says:

          everything!!! going off on some tangent about some affairs, it makes me think about 98 and what the fans were not privy to.

          this discussion is not really about man united and these other players, its about usa players and coach klinsmann. so when it is with regards to usa players and a usa coach, usa fans have certain entitlements, with regards to the goings on of our team.

          if jozy is not performing at as high a level as he should be for the us national team, as a fan, id like to know why. as a supporter of our soccer team, id like to know what the f is up.

          when a fan starts telling other fans that this or that is none of their business, im left wondering, what is our business? maybe it is trying to teach the fans who dont know any better.