Altidore’s breakout should be no surprise

JozyAltidore1-USAHonduras (Getty)

By IVES GALARCEP

SANDY, Utah– How does a player who has scored more than 50 goals for his club team over the course of two years become a forward that national team fans lose faith in?

That question relates to Jozy Altidore, or at least it did before he obliterated concerns about his U.S. Men’s National Team effectiveness by scoring in four consecutive USMNT matches. Suddenly the question has gone from “Why can’t Jozy score for the national team” to “Can anybody stop Jozy from scoring for the national team?”

It really isn’t a great mystery as to why Altidore has replaced a goal drought with a goal deluge, and it isn’t about any transformational experience, or any of the mind games Jurgen Klinsmann has played in his attempt to push and prod and cajole Altidore into being the player Klinsmann wants him to be. No, Altidore is scoring for two reasons. The first is he’s riding a wave of confident form after a 31-goal season for AZ Alkmaar.

More important, Altidore is finally receiving steady service after starving for national team service for the better part of two years.

“I think the teammates have done a better job of creating chances for him,” said Clint Dempsey. “He’s been doing a good job with the chances that he gets in the game, he’s finishing them off.

“He’s been great for us and it’s been important to have another player chipping in with those goals and be able to make it difficult for our opponents because they have to watch more players,” Dempsey added. “We have more threats, and when you have more threats you’re able to get more goals and open up space for other people.”

“The results speak for themselves,” Altidore said. “I think everybody’s so comfortable with each other. I mean just from the back. We play less long balls and everybody tried to play more controlled balls. We tried to always find a solution. That was huge and it gave us a little bit more going forward.

“The team is playing good football and creating chances and that’s what happens when you do that.”

The emergence of effective wing options has helped boost an offense that had struggled to find consistency under Klinsmann for almost two years, but now with players like Fabian Johnson and Graham Zusi helping energize the midfield, and with centerbacks Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez working to start build-ups from the back rather than booting long balls, Altidore has flourished.

Finally, Altidore is playing in a system that resembles the high-octane attack he stars in for AZ Alkmaar. AZ boasts a plethora of creative midfield talent, and the steady diet of scoring chances created by his club teammates has helped Altidore not only fine-tune his finishing, but polish his all-around game.

“We are very happy for Jozy,” Klinsmann said. “We always told him from a coaching perspective that it takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of adjustment. It takes the right moment to be there. It takes the hunger, and the energy he put in now in the past four or five games is tremendous.

“It’s not only that he scored those goals. The work that he does for the team is awesome,” Klinsmann added. “How he starts the high pressure that we would like to play more and more. He kind of shifts the defenders to the side. He chases them down. He wins balls back. That energy from Jozy is very important to that team.”

Altidore showed all those attributes on Tuesday night, hustling to tackle opposing players with the ball, and showing just as much hustle in racing into the attack.

As for that 18-month national team goal drought? It is a distant memory that Altidore isn’t spending much time thinking about anymore.

“I’m not really worried about it at all,” Altidore said. “Last cycle I thought I was there when I had to be for the team and this time is no different for me. If we continue to create chances, and we continue to be aggressive, we’re always going to be successful.”

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210 Responses to Altidore’s breakout should be no surprise

  1. THomas says:

    I always watch Chicharito play with envy…given Altidore’s recent form, and especially comparing it to Chicharito’s, I no longer fee that way.

    • elgringorico says:

      Altidore > Chicarito

      • Joel says:

        Chicharito has great speed and finishing, but Jozy has all the tools to be a modern striker.

      • SanFran415 says:

        Haha he’s playing well but let’s slow down a little bit. Jozy is not better than Chicharito.

        • jlm says:

          why not? and saying that Chicharito plays for Manchester United is not a reason.

          • SanFran415 says:

            Actually yes, saying he plays for Manchester United is a great reason.

            I mean what reason do you want? Statistics?

            Chicharito has 33 goals in 51 caps.
            Jozy has 17 goals in 60 caps.

            Chicharito is faster, quicker, better header, better finisher and is regarded as one of the best positional players in the world. That’s why Manchester United signed him and why he still plays for them.

            • Nate Dollars says:

              ‘one of the best positional players in the world’

              lol, nope

              • bryan says:

                i dont think that is too crazy, and i generally disagree with SanFran (i am an LA fan after all).

                but think about it, we all talk about how he is a poacher, that he does not create. he finds success because he has amazing movement and positioning. our own US CBs have said as much. that his movement is very tricky.

              • SanFran415 says:

                His positioning is what makes him one of the best goal poachers in the game. He’s a Mexican Inzaghi.

                His movement and positional awareness is world class.

              • Nate Dollars says:

                no, he has very good positioning, but he’s a top-notch finisher.

            • M says:

              Jozy better header, stronger shot,, better on free kicks, is younger and better all around player. Chicharito quicker and a great poacher.

            • r.benjamin says:

              The original point remains even with all of the numbers and direct comparisons.

              I agree, I’ve watched chiharito with envy. mostly envy and sadness for charlie davies… watching jozy recently – offsides finnish included, i’m beginning to feel better.. even though can you imagine adding cd09..

            • Kildman says:

              You are on the crack pipe again.

            • It would be interesting to look at his stats since his concussion last year. There was a drop off in his production both for Man Utd and El Tri.

              Watching him against Brazil yesterday, he seemed a half step behind where the play would be.

              Now, is this a criticism of Chicharito? No. I still think he is a great forward. I think he is going through a slump after his concussion.

          • Adam says:

            That’s totally a reason.

        • Old School says:

          Hernandez can’t create a goal to save his life.

          While most strikers are only as good as their service, Hernandez is 100% dependent on service as he’s literally incapable of creating a goal off the dribble.

          Credit where credit is due, Hernandez is one of the most dangerous poachers in the World and I love his game, but he’s a poacher.

          When they’re both on? I’d take Jozy over Hernandez any day of the week. Jozy brings a lot more to the table.

          • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

            We’re all excited about Jozy’s great form but lets slow things down a bit. Chicharito is still the better player at the moment. 33 goals in 55 games for Mexico and 33 in 77 for United in the Premier League and Champions League. A whole lot of those appearances were off the bench too. Give credit where its due. Chicharito has the edge on Jozy.

            • Old School says:

              I disagree.

              I don’t think he’s the better player and there’s no reason to “slow down’ if that’s the assessment I see.

              I think he has higher quality teammates and plays on the best club in arguable the best league.

              …but I don’t think he’s more complete and I think he’s purely a poacher. For better or worse.

              • Grubbsbl says:

                Not really sure Chicharito is only a pure poacher. When he first joined United he lacked a clean first touch to play with his back to goal. But this season he really developed, kept the ball in tight spaces and also contributed to United’s quick counter attacking offense. This season was the first yr Jozy showed he is can consistently find space and keep the ball as an outlet. And that was in a league no where near as good as the EPL.

                Also, lets not forget Chicharito has two EPL winners metals, has started in a CL final, and scored in the World Cup. Jozy is certainly in form and its exciting but his resume is no where near that of the little pea.

              • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

                Jozy may have a more diverse skill set but that does not make him the better player. Chicharito’s link up play, movement off the ball and finishing are all top class. Jozy might have more tools in the toolbox but they’re not near as refined as Chicharito’s. He really is one of the best pure finishers in the world. The higher quality teammates argument just doesn’t fly for me. There have been quite a few very talented strikers who have failed with even more talented supporting casts. It obviously helps to play with great players but Chicharito’s success is down to his own abilities, not those of his teammates.
                Its not a knock on Jozy by any means to say Chicharito is better. Maybe 2-3 years from now the story will be different but I think you are jumping the gun to say Jozy is ahead of him now.

            • Eurosnob says:

              It’s way too early to judge them. Chicharito is 25 and Jozy is 23. At 23, Droba played for Le Mans in Ligue 2 and scored 5 goals. If you simply went by his numbers at 23, what would have been your projection for the remainder of his career?

              • Jesse D says:

                I love the comparison to Drogba. I know Jozy will never have is persona, but he has his strength and is quickly developing finishing like I’ve never seen from an America.

          • TADevil says:

            ^ This

            • TADevil says:

              I meant “^ This” to Old School’s post but somebody replied before me. I think Jozy is a more complete striker.

          • bryan says:

            i agree with this, but can you say, for certain, that Jozy should be labeled the better striker right now? i love Jozy, but IMO, Chicharito is a better player at the moment. i think Jozy can easily surp@ss him, and i think he will, but he can’t until he is playing in the EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, or Serie A.

            • M says:

              Neymer is better than either and he hasn’t play in any of those leagues.. yet.

              • bryan says:

                fair enough, but come on dude. Neymar type players don’t come around often. they are an exception to the rule. and no, it’s still not a perfect rule, but i think with the Jozy/Chicharito comparison, it’s more than fair.

            • Jesse D says:

              I can’t remember the last time I saw Chichi and was scared of him. Teams have figured him out. If he just watch his late runs, and shiftiness off ball, he doesn’t have anything else to off. He isn’t good of the dribble, his passing is lacking, he is short and he doesn’t have the strength to take out the trash. The Mexican International is making Mexican’s wish they had Jared Borgetti back.

          • AS says:

            Completely agree

        • dan says:

          I have to agree, Chicharito is still the better striker because his tricky movement is absolutely phenomenal. Jozy can get there but he isn’t there yet.

          Lets be realistic guys before we claim Besler is better than Vidic…

          • Jesse D says:

            wow. Besler is not ready to be rated higher than Vidic. He has a lot of potential, but at least let him have a season outside of MLS before we give him that title. However, Jozy is better than Hernandez. I doubt that he makes much of an impact in Man U this year, and Mexico has scored like 7 goals in 11 games this year. He played 2 good games this year, Nigeria and Honduras. Please don’t tell me he played well against Italy, he was awful. Jozy on the other hand has had 4 consecutive good games. 2 more than Chichi has had all year.

        • louis z says:

          They completely different type of players. one is bonafied poacher, the other (Jozy) is a true CF that can play with his back to goal AND play the lanes. In my view Jozy will be better because he has more than one dimension to his game.

    • Neruda says:

      I think Jozy can start to incorporate more of Chicharitos goal poaching methods into his game as evidenced by his goal yesterday where he patiently hung around, subtly separated himself from defenders and was wide open for a relatively easy finish (compared to some of the eye-popping long range golazasos from the run of play for AZ).

      Can Chicharito incorporate Jozy’s goal scoring methods from the run of play? Not so much in the EPL. Can Jozy score in the EPL in the same manner as in Holland? I don’t see why not given the service and a good team around him.

      • UMF 89 says:

        Jozy’s finish was not easy…dare I say….it was what world class strikers do with ease!!! Watch the reply a couple of times…see the angle the ball is coming at Jozy how he strikes it with his left instep, across his body and hit it into the lower right 90…if that ball is hit one foot closer to the center of the goal the keeper get it. What that goal show me about Jozy is the game is beginning to slow down for him…the right run, the right weight and technique on the strike!

        • Neruda says:

          Yes. He made what takes a lot of skill look easy. He’s showing a higher class and that goal was another sign.

    • Reboot says:

      Simply put, Chicharito has a superior knack for being in the right place at the right time, and has a bit more speed and is better with his head, yet…

      Jozy is FAR superior in holding up play, making the final pass, and is better on the dribble.

      I think Altidore v. Hernandez is a wash, because although they play the same position, they offer different value.

      For USA, Jozy fits the bill as top striker, maybe he wouldn’t do as well with El Tri, and vice versa.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Jozy is good at playing in space. I actually think his problems start when he is treated as a traditional pivot because he can be unactive and doesn’t play as big as he looks. Honduras bears this out, he found space for another goal but IMO handed away the ball a lot playing target.

        Chicharito is more like the guy who plays off the target so I think it’s apples and oranges.

        • RNG says:

          It is apples and oranges. But I would venture that Jozy has the potential to be much more useful [not better, more useful] to the USMNT than Chicharito is to El Tri right now. Because when Chicharito doesn’t get service in the box, as he hasn’t in the past handful of games, he really doesn’t make anything happen. But Jozy is actually starting to make things happen all across the field.

        • Rabbit says:

          He hands the ball away as a target when the space is highly confined (defenders collapsing around), teammates are not adequately running off the ball for him to pass to, or the pass he is receiving isn’t quite on target.

          Sometimes, it’s a combination of all of the above.

          But otherwise, Jozy’s a phenomenal hold up target. He’s incredibly strong, and if the pass is played to him accurately to feet, and he’s got a bit of space and active teammates running off the ball, 90+% of the time he plays a good ball.

      • Neruda says:

        This where a player like McInerny (sp?) can really help the US senior team. He places himself in those perfect spots. I hope he can make a statement in Gold Cup because his addition would give the US the two different archetypes in front of goal.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I think if you look at Chicharito versus VanPersie, it’s complimentary part versus team-carrier. But for some reason — maybe the one good Chivas year — Mexico runs their offense through him like he’s VanPersie.

      That and the idea of a crossing offense based around a player under 6′ is silly. He does score some headers and shots off crosses but he’s not McBride or Ching at it, so it’s goofy strategy. To me Mexico looks good passing it around and playing keepaway and I refuse to write them off because they are currently in the right spot and with a regime change might get better in a hurry. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and the US is about to play CR away and then Mexico.

  2. Bobb says:

    It SHOULD be a surprise to all those “Lazy Outthedoor” commenters from 2011-2012. Where are all those people now? Out buying Altidore jerseys?

    • SanFran415 says:

      You–for some reason–feel that his form now means nothing happened back then. He was lazy. That is frankly an undeniable fact–as evidenced by comments and actions from both his national team coach and his club team coach–both of which benched him for lack of effort.

      We’re ecstatic that Jozy responded to that criticism better than he did the first time–public ranting against his coaches. To say he is playing the same now as he did even earlier this year is to ignore reality.

      He’s really busting his butt now to move into space and put in the effort to make great runs creating space for other players. Same with his explosion of production at AZ. While he does benefit in some cases from porous defending in the dutch league–you can’t question his work rate at this point. He’s been top notch and has now shown he can translate that to a tougher environment.

      Klinsmann saw what he was capable of and didn’t give up on him. Some tough love–of course–but he definitely pushed him in the right direction and Jozy has bought into the system of high pressure and off-ball action.

      It’s great to see him succeed.

      • Judging Amy says:

        This is the type of stuff I knew was coming which I mentioned in a post still awaiting moderation (seriously this needs to be fixed). It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong in this debate. Who cares really?

        All that matters it that the team (Altidore included and especially) is playing great. Shouldn’t we be happy about that instead of bickering amongst ourselves?

        (End humble plea to move on)

        • SanFran415 says:

          I am certainly very happy for him. I like a good comeback story and goals. Lots and lots of goals.

        • beachbum says:

          that’s a nice try to gently persuade on this issue…you always have the smoothest touch, thank you, although I wonder if it falls on deaf ears in this case

        • Justin says:

          What was so bad about what he said? By your logic, the next time Jozy goes on a cold streak, we should subject him to unremitting scorn and forget about the times when he was scoring frequently.

          • beachbum says:

            read Ives article and find the answers you seek, seriously

          • Judging Amy says:

            This definitely wasn’t meant as aimed at SanFran (you’re right, nothing wrong with his post). It’s not aimed at any person really. It’s aimed at the broader division of Jozy “haters” vs Jozy “lovers” and at other divisive issues within our rabid Nats fan community.

        • Jesse D says:

          People were calling Altidore lazy after the Germany game. I haven’t seen a lazy Alitdore in quite awhile. After Belgium everyone yelled about him getting out on the wing. When he created off the wing yesterday, no one complained, why? Too much inconsistency, I remain an Alitdore supporter. He has grown up, he has improved his game, he is ready for big time European soccer.

      • jlm says:

        Saying that he was lazy is a lazy critique of his play. He has worked his butt off for years no matter what team he played for.

        The Jozy bashing was frustratingly uncalled for, and now those that were bashing him are going to take the credit for “getting him to respond.” The fact is, he just continued to improve. He is a better player than he was 1 or 2 or 3 years ago. That is because of natural growth and development, not because he is all of a sudden working hard. Most of us could see how this progress was going to likely take shape. Then there were some who took every opportunity and read into every statement that his coaches said in order to bash him. Now, those people look like fools.

        • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

          Part of his “natural growth and development” is his improved work rate though. He is really imposing himself on the game now rather than waiting for it to come to him and oftentimes drifting out of it completely.

          I agree that this is a natural progression and combined with improved team attack has given us great results. Saying the work rate isn’t part of the progression misses the mark.

          • jlm says:

            Okay, but that does not make him lazy. It also ignores the fact that he was a very young player without much experience to figure these things out when some were calling him out. The more reasonable and cooler heads could see the direction he was going while a few were very loud about saying that he was worthless and was not the future at the forward position for the US.

            • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

              I agree with that. I never called him lazy, though I know many people did. The Jozy bashing was definitely misguided in my opinion. No one would have been scoring working with the anemic attack we had.
              Jozy’s work rate has clearly improved. The service he gets has very clearly improved. Its a combination of things rather than one or the other. One thing we can all agree on is he looks great. He can score vs anyone if he keeps looking like that.

            • jhp says:

              I agree, Jozy always worked hard (remember the world cup) he took people on, hit a post, was a handful with his strength on the dribble. Yet he was/is young and developing his game. It sort of reminds me of several years ago, all we heard was how Dempsey was a good club player but didn’t bring it in National games. Now he just”brings it”. It sort of sounded like the same people switched to “Jozy had two good years for his club,but didn’t bring it for the Nats”. It’s the natural process of players pushing themselves and developing their respective games. It ‘s just good to see.

        • UMF 89 says:

          “Most of us could see how this progress was going to likely take shape”….no I think not….Jozy was a kid when he left for Europe (what 4 years ago) going to play in the most competitive sport environment on the planet!! He had the physical gifts but at the highest level it is the mental game and self belief that makes the difference and if a club is willing to help a player in this area. Jozy found a coach at AZ who was able to say to him…We/I believe in your ability but you have to learn how to see the game mentally and when you do good thing will happen. So maybe we should thank Verbeek or Jozy’s agent for put him in a position to succeed, but for every situation like Jozy’s that works out there are 100 that do not….potential needs to find the right situation!!! I think JK has been asking Jozy to take the next step but in a different way and maybe he just wrapping his head around it now. Both coaches have “called Jozy out” what they are saying is focus Jozy, focus everyday, every practice, every game, every situation because at this level everyone has some type of physical gift but it is not enough. Credit to Jozy for hearing and applying the message!!!!

          • jlm says:

            I became a full on believer watching him at Hull. He did not score many goals or even look that great, but you could see that he had things at a very young age that were going to make him a force once he gained some more experience and was put in a better position to succeed. He showed glimpses at Villareal too even though he didn’t have a regular spot. And then there was his play with the national team, which was very promising. There was just too much promise to not buy into the hype. We are not talking about an Agudelo or Ream (who could both still turn out to be big time players) situation here.

            Apparently, a couple of his coaches have urged him to fcous 100% of the time and to work hard in practice every day. Not many young players don’t hear those things from their managers. I for one was not going to let some fairly common coach comments make me ignore what I was seeing from Jozy consistently.

            • Jesse D says:

              Hull was depressing. He scored 1 goal (at least I only remember 1). The service and quality around him was awful though. Any striker needs some teammate support, but Jozy has grow leaps and bounds from the player he was back then.

          • Joe+G says:

            Wasn’t Verbeeck the one who had to be convinced that Jozy should come to camp on time, rather than waiting for the “official” dates — even though AZ was out of season?

            You’ll notice Jozy came in on time this year, unlike 2012 where he never really got on track.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        ‘Klinsmann saw what he was capable of and didn’t give up on him.’

        yes, thank you klinsmann, for taking two years to get jozy back to what he was doing under bob bradley.

        that jozy started scoring again right when we started playing a different formation and attacking scheme is purely a coincidence, of course.

        • Bobb says:

          “yes, thank you klinsmann, for taking two years to get jozy back to what he was doing under bob bradley.”

          I know, right? People will credit Klinsmann with anything.
          The fact is, Klinsmann playing three defensive midfielders at a time for 18 months was the MAIN REASON why Jozy wasn’t getting good service, and therefore failing to score goals.

          He stopped playing Edu/Williams in addition to Bradley and Jones… OMG Klinamann is a GENIUS!!1!

      • Kildman says:

        SanFran415 is a a ridiculous person on his crack pipe.

    • Big Chil says:

      Yeah, but when was the last time he scored on a double bicycle kick?

    • Old School says:

      SanFran said it best: His current form doesn’t replace what many were griping about in years past.

      I’m tired of people trying to “be right” because they ignore reality. The reality is Jozy is getting better service. Also a reality? He’s playing a lot harder and fighting for 90 minutes.

      The “service” was absent but so was the effort that helps create goals. It’s a two way street.

      Jozy is like a Center in the NBA…you gotta feed him the ball to keep him mentally involved, otherwise he won’t do the dirty work. He’s now doing the dirty work and isn’t sulking.

      • jlm says:

        Fact: Jozy scores when he gets service (and always has)

        Delusional Interpretation that Fits Your Agenda: Jozy was lazy, but now he works hard

        • SanFran415 says:

          Look think whatever you want, but he was benched SPECIFICALLY for not giving enough effort during the game and practice.

          That’s fact.

          • Old School says:

            Eh, I should have simply disregarded this.

            It’s comical that people want to automatically label others as “having an agenda” when his own manager, who’s forgotten more soccer than anyone on his website, agrees by subbing him off and questioning his effort.

            …but of course, since we post on a blog, we know A LOT more than him.

            • Jesse D says:

              didn’t everyone yell that Jozy was benched at half time against Belgium because he is lazy. Everyone puts there own motivations in coaches mouths.

            • jlm says:

              Instead of saying he had an agenda, I should have said that he was digging for “proof” to go along with his misconceptions. Or maybe it happened the other way around: he heard something and then made up his mind, not understanding that what he heard is not nearly as damning as he assumed.

          • jlm says:

            Every player has been benched at some point in his career — especially young players. That does not say that they are lazy or bad players. It’s really not a big deal and never was (or else he would not have gotten back in the lineup).

        • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

          Jozy is definitely working harder than he did 12 months ago. That is just a fact. That combined with the improved service is making him a huge problem for the opposition. He is making a difference in every aspect of the game now. I don’t think he was terrible or even lazy necessarily before but completely disregarding his improved work rate is wrong. He is forcing opposing defenses to deal with him rather than waiting for his teammates to set him up. Its great to see.

        • dabes2 says:

          I agree that describing Jozy as lazy was lazy. But I disagree that Jozy just always scored when he got service. Jozy has really matured as a player and a person. If you go back 2-3-4 years, Jozy had a lot to learn about running off the ball. His runs were predictable, and he got frustrated when he didn’t get the ball. His holdup play was not nearly as good and he would tend to drift out wide to avoid the physical confrontations. His combination play was not where it is now. His decision making was not as sharp. He didn’t get enough touches. At times he wasn’t in as good cardiovascular shape. His own limitations were part of why he got less service.

          But IMO, Jozy was immature, not lazy. A kid gradually adapting to not being the biggest superstar around. And trying to figure out what he needed to do to succeed. And gradually learning/improving/becoming more receptive to coaching.

          • Old School says:

            “I agree that describing Jozy as lazy was lazy.”

            Not a single time did I say he was “lazy”. I said he sulked and I’ve sound countless times before that he had maturity issues.

            Want a funny yet accurate response? Here’s one:

            “Saying I’m lazy for calling Jozy lazy when I never said he was lazy, is a lazy apologist argument for denying reality.”

            There. How’s that for your need to use the term “lazy” when I didn’t?

            • Rabbit says:

              Dude, he wasn’t even referring to your post! There was a previous post that referred to “lazy to call him lazy”.

              Your eagerness to jump to your own defense is….well….a bit defensive.

              • Old School says:

                Rabbit, you need to re-read the posts.

                dabes2 was responding (and agreeing) to “jlm” saying I simply referred to Jozy as lazy.

                Perhaps you should take your own advice and quit being so eager to jump in on something that didn’t involve you.

      • whoop-whoop says:

        Of course, there is a direct correlation between getting good service and work-rate. Make 20 hard runs and not a sniff of the ball… not even a look and 99% of strikers are going to stop making the runs with the same conviction. Right, wrong, whatever… it is human nature, when there is no return on our efforts, most of us will slack off. Motivation, a dangled carrot does wonders. Goals… even opportunities energize and push a player (and a team) like nothing else. Strikers… X10.

        • Old School says:

          …this is precisely the point and why I continue to say “two way street”.

          For some reason, the camp of “Jozy Can Do No Wrong” fail to see that one not only affects the other, but it did precisely that: Affected the other.

          The workrate was not there in previous matches/recent years for the Nats.

          There’s no argument that the service has improved (after dropping off when Donovan wasn’t around) but to argue that he has been putting in this type of effort the entire time is laughable.

          • jlm says:

            yeah, he was hardly trying when he was put on an island up top for Hull. That whole 2010 World Cup and qualifying, he clearly was not putting forth any effort at all. Now that he has scored a bunch of goals, it has become extremely obvious that he is finally trying…

            • Old School says:

              You’re aware you just referenced a time/window that no one is debating, correct?

              This debate has been the last two years, where Jozy had 0 goals in the run of play.

              However, if you really want to start comparing years and make this about something else, you should reference every manager he’s ever had, prior to AZ questioning his; effort, fitness and general commitment.

              Oh, but that probably won’t be convenient to your apologist point of view. So, let’s not involve that. Let’s just stick to under JK, which is when MOST people are referring to.

              • jlm says:

                Actually people were calling him lazy during those years. And if you want to stick to the two Klinsmann years, that is a.) a small sample size full of games that did not matter, and b.) during a period of time when he was not given an opportunity to be involved in the game because of the coach’s selections.

            • Old School says:

              “And if you want to stick to the two Klinsmann years, that is a.) a small sample size full of games that did not matter, and b.) during a period of time when he was not given an opportunity to be involved in the game because of the coach’s selections.”

              Two years is a small sample size? Wow…really stretching. Oh, because these games weren’t qualifiers, they didn’t “matter now”. Stretching it even more.

              Stop the nonsense that he wasn’t given an “opportunity” during these two years. He was given EVERY opportunity.

              More and more and more excuses. They’re never ending.

              • jlm says:

                a.) national team games are not exactly consistent. Thus, two years over a period of time where the most important games are not even the final round of qualifying does not really provide a good barometer (why do you think that is the exact time Donovan took some time off? because there were not important games). Also, Jozy was not always included in those camps/games, so yes, I would say that it is a small sample size. Now, his club form over that time is not small. Should we look at that?

                b.) Until recently, Klinsmann was not playing personnel to effectively provide service to Jozy. Still, he had some decent moments (see:Italy). If you think Jozy was put in a great position to succeed as a forward in the few games that he did play with these lineups, then wow.

      • Kildman says:

        When you and he speak, crickets make noise.

    • r.benjamin says:

      The truth is.. these past few games when i saw Altidore flying back to put pressure on the MF or go for a 50/50 loose ball, it surprised me. The reason it surprised me is that for months / years, Jozy has not been putting in that work rate. Its all correlated.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I would say that Jozy has been doing a better job of floating into space for service — he kind of drifts back or between people now where before he’d be bodied up, denying his own space — and he was chasing defensively more effectively and enthusiastically where before he was going through the motions slowly and without effect.

        If he gets room I think he is more effective, but bodied up to someone he often plays smaller than he looks. Kenny Cooper.

  3. beachbum says:

    this is an excellent, spot on article imo

    thanks Ives

  4. Alex says:

    I’m just gonna throw this one out… This guy is still only 23. He’ll be 24 in Brazil. He’s already got one World Cup under his belt and he has the potential for 3 more.

    This is just the beginning, folks. Jozy will only get better.

    • DC Josh says:

      +1

    • Old School says:

      Amen.

    • Gary Page says:

      Thanks for reminding people about this. Some seemed to expect another Ronaldo right away. Because of our relatively lousy youth system, US players have developed slower/later than many other internationals.

    • Mig says:

      He will or he won’t. Injury, attitude, or bad club situations could just as easily derail him. He certainly CAN improve and be a beast for years but a lot of talented players do not get better, they plateau or fall off.

      But we can hope!

  5. joe says:

    Newcastle fans will be happy to have him.

    Ironically, the early guesstimates at his transfer numbers after tearing up the Eredivisie for two years project lower than the original transfer fee MLS received from Villareal.

    • The Big O says:

      Keep him FAR AWAY from England. He needs to stay with AZ and just enjoy the form there. Maybe Spain or Germany but keep out of England. He wasted away in Hull and I don’t think he’d be used right in England. We don’t need another guy to waste away on a bench in England.

      • Aguinaga says:

        Agree. Would love to see him at Atletico Madrid, or get a bid from a Porto or a Napoli.

        • whoop-whoop says:

          Yup…….. personally, I’d love to see him in Italy… and of course the Bundesliga would be a nice fit for his talents/development and fit the kind of game the US is trying to employ.

          Philosophically/style, I could live w/ Arsenal or Everton under Martinez, but in addition to style is of course opportunity to play. We can all guess that JK will be pushing him to think big.

          Who knows, be interesting to see how it plays out.

    • SanFran415 says:

      Oh my god no keep him away from Joe Kinnear. As far as humanly possible.

    • wandmdave says:

      what site estimates transfer fees? I’d love to see that info.

      • Alex says:

        wandm? william and mary?

        • wandmdave says:

          I can’t believe someone actually got it. People always ask me what wand m dave means.

          Did you go there?

          • Alex says:

            I’m in Swem right now! Small world.

            • wandmdave says:

              Thats awesome. There’s been so much construction on campus since I went through. Swem was being renovated and the parking garage, business school, and the Jamestown dorms weren’t up yet. Swem especially looks really nice now.

              • Alex says:

                Well, it’s always nice to encounter alum in unexpected places. Hopefully this place treated you as well as it’s treating me, I love it here. Cheers!

      • Ali Dia says:

        Here is one site that estimates and includes Altidore. Unfortunately, the data appears a little stale and confusing. For example, it rates him at ~$3 million at the time of his transfer to Villareal for $10 million. And while this might be accurate (one could clearly argue Villarreal overpaid for him at the time, given what he produced and what they were able to recoup), I don’t know if the valuation is really supportable. Right now, I would think his value is close to the original $10 million Villareal paid. Rumor has it that Lazio made overtures in the $5-6mm range, but those are just that, rumors…

        link to transfermarkt.com

        • r.benjamin says:

          Interesting but suspect site..
          Currently Jozy and Cameron and Brek Shea are valued similarly.

    • Gary Page says:

      I’
      d like to seed him in the Bundesliga, even though I don’t get Gol TV. I think it would fit his style of play and physical attributes best. Too bad Huntelaar is staying at Schalke, it would have been a great move for Jozy to go there. I think Jozy could score as much as Huntelaar and maybe be even more of a presence than he is.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Hull, ahem. Villareal, Xerez, etc.

      I think he should stick to Holland, where he seems to be flourishing, although I’m not sure he controls that.

      Gooch just had to make that last big ACM move and he disappeared in a hurry. Standard Liege wasn’t sexy but it was working.

      • Judging Amy says:

        Gooch and Jozy are completely different situations– Injury, leaving prime vs. entering prime.

        Jozy is clearly a better player than when he was at Hull, Villareal, Xerez…Really IV, a 23 year old shouldn’t try to move to a higher quality league after a great season because of past failures when he was 19, 20, 21?

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          I have trouble buying the age argument when a kid who looked like a grown man has been playing pro soccer since he was 16, had 9 goals for the Red Bull back in 2007. By the time he’s 19 he’s not on his first team, he’s on his first transfer, with 41 games in his pocket.

          In that sense I think the more relevant comparisons are to players like Adu, Najar, et al. who signed early and had a few years of career before making a move to Europe. I also think you have to be mindful that they are on a more Michael Owen career trajectory, where a college pick comes out at 21-23, peaks in the mids 20s, and breaks down at about 30, he came out at 16. This is his prime, as it is for decade-in-soccer Freddy Adu. Owen started breaking down at about 26 — 10 years of soccer — and Wayne Rooney is interestingly in about that age range now.

          I think he’s more like the professionalized soccer players of Latin America or Europe who have been in the system already for years as teens. I think he doesn’t get to make the 19 year old excuse. At that age players over there are either making the cut or getting loaned or getting cashiered. Until he found AZ he was on the latter end of that scale.

          I think he’s found a league that suits his attributes and is finally producing. He’s already had a go at England, Spain, etc. with a few years’ professionalism under his belt. It didn’t take. I think he has found his place and should stay put.

    • jake says:

      I imagine that has as much to do with the overall market in Europe than anything else. Jozy is a much much better value for a team now. He was definitely more expensive than he is worth at that time. For everyone that says MLS needs to do better on transfers, they did well on that one!

  6. Don says:

    It’s important to distinguish between fans that pay attention and fans that don’t. Anyone paying attention to the ways his respective teams play would know that the service and support were lacking before these recent games. And I am guessing that most US fans that have been watching Jozy this year were not disappointed in him, but rather were frustrated that he was getting no help.

    We often get distracted by the Simon Borgs of the world that shouldn’t have any part of the analytical discussion.

    • beachbum says:

      thanks Don for the perspective. You’re right. Please post more often

    • Cavan says:

      “We often get distracted by the Simon Borgs of the world that shouldn’t have any part of the analytical discussion.”

      +1 !

    • Catamount says:

      I think it is an oversimplification to say that Jozy has been starved of service in the past 18 months. Service and support depend upon both the receiver and the suppliers. Some forwards always seem to get better service than others, regardless of the team they play for. Others seem to score in bunches when the team gets them the ball in a particular way. Jozy is becoming better finding spaces, seeing the game before it develops and making it easier for the service to find him.

      The goal against Panama at the back post was the result of more sophisticated understanding of the options Fabian Johnson had in the situation. In days gone by he would not have arrived at the back post in time and we would be watching another great cross to nobody. The goal against Honduras was another example of seeing the pocket of space and arriving soon enough to compose himself and finish off the play. In the past Jozy would not have been prepared to place the shot just inside the far post. We would have seen another great opportunity die at his feet.

      What appears to be lazy play by a forward can be the result of lack of effort or lack of the ability to see what will happen next. I think Jozy has been a hard worker who has learned to see the spaces to attack sooner. Playing for a team AZ has been perfect for him because he gets a ton of chances to learn. Early on he did the same sort of confused Jozy things there that he did with the US team before. This is why it is very important to make sure players do not wear the US jersey until they become proficient at the club level. Not all players will develop the way Jozy has done if they are handed the US jersey before they have proven themselves.

      Credit to Jozy because he has done what players like Adu have not been mature enough to do.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      All due respect but when you’re not scoring it’s a chicken-egg problem if you are dependent on service. You can blame the servers but it also reflects a perceived limitation in your game, that you’re not the type who can dribble or blow by people on your own.

      Oh, I placed the blame squarely on his shoulders because I felt like he was the sloppy guy at the head of a smoother passing offense.

      The question in terms of development is going to be, can he do this against a World Cup team. If we get this work rate and thought process out of him at that level plus some production, he will make his name.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        ‘You can blame the servers but it also reflects a perceived limitation in your game, that you’re not the type who can dribble or blow by people on your own.’

        and how do you do that without the ball?

        it’s not like there were all these times that jozy had the ball in space with the opportunity to run, and it’s not like any other lone strikers were benefitting from our ‘smoother p@ssing offense’.

        klinsmann’s initial offense was basically set up to support dempsey; meaning we played a slow patient buildup until our mids crowded the box. now that we’ve changed to a more ‘jozy-centric’ attack, he and others are getting better service more often.

  7. Judging Amy says:

    Great article Ives. I know what’s coming though. Some gloating from Jozy’s fans, a response from his former critics that their disdain was justified, some obstinately declaring that he still isn’t that good. My question, does it matter? Is this a (for lack of a better word) “healthy” debate for Nats fans to be having? Does it matter who was “right” and who was “wrong”?

    For me, this is the type of discussion that leads to too much childish infighting among US nats fans. We should all be buds.

  8. Chicago_blue says:

    Ives has been backing Altidore all along. Way to stick with it.

    • Old School says:

      He also backed Tim Ream, so, yea.

      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        haha well at some point everyone is wrong.

        I think the Jozy bashing went too far before. I honestly don’t think there was any striker in our pool who would have been scoring with the lack attack he was working with. He was literally on an island for months up top. However, he is certainly a much improved player now. People need to recognize that rather than just say its all the service.

        • Judging Amy says:

          I fall into this camp. Just happy he’s doing so well and I think he has the talent to get even better. Big fan of his although he frustrated all heck out of me during his goal drought (which is why I can empathize with the bashers).

        • Old School says:

          “haha well at some point everyone is wrong.”

          …and at some point, everyone is right too.

          • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

            Even a blind squirrel finds a nut here and there.
            I do think Ives is one of the more trustworthy soccer writers America has though. Can’t say I agree with him on everything (some people take his word for scripture) but you could certainly do a whole lot worse. Mind blowing to see such terrible and misguided analysis in such high places sometimes.

            • Old School says:

              I never questioned whether or not he was “trustworthy”.

              I did point out he was equally supportive, backing, cheerleaded for Tim Ream, too.

              Take that how you will.

  9. Kung Fu Kangaroos says:

    Jozy requires good service and to be facing the goal. He still needs to work on a few things because you’re not going to get good service every game:

    1) Playing with his back towards goal. Several times a pass was sent to him and he just stood there and waited for it. The defender simply stepped in front to intercept.
    2) Turn on his defender when is back is towards goal. When he tried it, lost possession against Honduras’ 2nd string centerbacks
    3) Creating his own shot. Only recall one time when he tried this in the Honduras match. He ran into the box on the right side and cut to his left to create a shooting opportunity … went straight to the keeper.
    4) Staying onsides when making runs towards goal … like Eddie during the Panama game.

    Don’t get complacent. Keep working on it to become a more complete forward. You’re not going to get great service every game.

    • Judging Amy says:

      Lol. I agree with you that he shouldn’t get complacent. But in conjunction with your other posts about the guy, I get the sense that you are being incredibly nitpicky about him. Stuff like this, “Only recall one time when he tried this in the Honduras match. He ran into the box on the right side and cut to his left to create a shooting opportunity … went straight to the keeper” is a classic example. That was a great play. He took down a ball nicely, beat his man and forced a save with his shot that went out for a US corner. It went straight to the keeper? Come on man.

      Instead of praising him for upping his game and starting to do things he hasn’t done, some people pick at imperfection. Guys don’t wanna be labeled haters but don’t understand that constantly harping about a guy when he’s doing his thing is the very definition of being a hater. It’s fine if you don’t like a guy, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. But I’d take a look at myself if a guy I wasn’t thrilled about was having good performances and I’m constantly downplaying him.

      He’s not perfect (won’t ever be), but are you as stringent with your criteria with other players– when Demps messes up, when Bradley misplaces a pass, when Jones misplaces a pass. Oh demps needs to work on x, oh bradley needs to work on x…

  10. bottlcaps says:

    If you look at the heat maps and compare Jozy’s position in relation to his teamates for the matches he was ineffective and those where he scores, you will notice the teammates are all closer to Jozy.

    By moving the players underneath jozy, closer to him and in the center of the pitch, more room is left for Zusi and especially Fabian Johnson to provide service from the wings. Having Dempsey play underneath Altidore also frees up Jozy’s movements, allowing him to get space.

    Jozy has yet to learn to play the post-up lone striker with his back to the goal well, YET.
    There were few balls from the backline to his position, bypassing the midfield and he was not really used for hold-up play, and/or route one balls.

    However, Klinsmann has effectively made his position a center-forward with a withdrawn forward in Dempsey and THREE wingers, one being a defensive back (Beasley or Johnson) making runs up the sidelines. It has usually been up to Bradley to connect the dots and by moving him forward more, he us able to get the ball to Dempsey or out to the wings. Bradley’s number of passes and completion rate is Messi-like and it has been his play in the center of the field that has changed the US team.

    • away goals says:

      Yes thank you. This kind of analysis is far more useful than saying “he’s lazy” or even “he’s getting more service now.”

      This is the reason he’s getting more service AND it’s the reason his hard work has tangible results.

      Also, we can expect all the forwards in the pool to benefit from the evolving tactics.

      • Ali Dia says:

        I was thinking heat maps would be useful for this analysis, as well. Where are you finding them?

  11. QuakerOtis says:

    “How does a player who has scored more than 50 goals for his club team over the course of two years become a forward that national team fans lose faith in?”

    You do read these boards, don’t you Ives?

  12. Petedela says:

    I’d like to see him go to a team like Wigan, maybe Everton. Or maybe even Bayer Leverkusen. In any case I hope he can keep this up. The bigger story is how indispensable Michael Bradley has become. We desperately need a Plan B should he get injured. Maybe try out Klejstan and Cameron in the upcoming qualifiers? Losing Besler would make me nervous too. But not nearly as bad. Go USMNT!

    • Alex says:

      Qualifiers are absolutely NOT the time to try something out. I agree, the squad needs depth, and maybe in qualifiers AFTER we clinch, but not before. This is the time for results, not experiments.

    • jon says:

      plan B (if bradley gets hurt) is holden, and he’s gonna get tried out in the gold cup

    • Gary Page says:

      Very true. Any time the US took over the ball in its half of the field, players usually gave the ball to Bradley to orchestrate. He really runs this team.

    • Colin says:

      Wigan are in the Championship. He is not proven enough for Everton or Bayern. Somewhere like Fulham, Swansea, West Ham, and Norwich would be better looks.

      • PetedeLA says:

        Whoops. After winning the FA Cup I forgot that Wigan went down. They played some good soccer though. I may have been thinking of Swansea, as Martinez had also coached them.

        I wrote Bayer Leverkusen, not Bayern Munich.

        At Leverkusen he would be close to the Netherlands, if he misses Alkmaar. They should have money left over from the Schuerrle transfer.

  13. downintexas says:

    Amazing how when the US started to use a consistant squad and start playing wide, Jozy started scoring. Props for JK for figuring this out. Although I’m going to guess he knew it but just wanted to tinker with everything first. (atleast I hope he knew this)

    • DC Josh says:

      Word on the street is he plays FIFA ’13 as the USA against their opponent, then adjusts his tactics from there. (SARCASM)

    • wandmdave says:

      Give the man some credit. He’s been attempting to provide wing play for a while but Zusi took some time to mature and JK had to cycle through some players to find a LM option before Beasley played solidly enough in the back to allow FJ to move up. Its not like this just happened overnight, things just finally clicked.

      • beachbum says:

        give him credit for the right stufff, that’s what I’m saying

        Coach has changed his ideas on how best to play this team…that is awesome. that’s what good coaches do, they learn their players and adjust to their strengths and weaknesses to filed the strongest team

        they also can try to make players do what they want them to do, they all do this too, but if that doesn’t work (not because of laziness or anything other than the simple fact that some players play better with certain tactics, positioning, etc.) the need to adjust is paramount.

        BIG credit goes to Klinnsman for doing that seems to me

    • Gary Page says:

      I think Klinsmann knew all along what he was doing and all his moves, including leaving Altidore and Donovan off the team, have been carefully calculated because he knew the team could qualify without those players. Likewise, I think he has been shifting players around into different positions so as to create team depth and he has succeeded. There is now serious competition at practically every position. If Holden and Donovan return to form, Edu returns from injury, Chandler and Cherundolo play well, Shea,Bocanegra and Gooch play well in the Gold Cup where are we going to put everybody? We may end up with a lot of very good players sitting on the bench, something pretty unheard of, maybe even undreamed of.

      • beachbum says:

        so you think all along he was going back to a 4-4-2 to pair Jozy up top and also to get width via the midfiled? I don’t, he ahd other ideas and those ideas are still being used throughout the USMNT system, namely the 4-3-3 becasue that’s what has been deemed the future.

        and so what? No coach has a crystal ball, they have there eyes and ears and time with the team, and the 4-3-3 was part of the evolution? I’ll go there. But the good ones learn and then they make the right adjustments.

        it’s cool though, we can disagree

  14. Dennis says:

    I agree with Dempsey, it is not so much that Jozy suddenly became better or started working harder or whatever, it is because he is playing on a team that can make better use of his talents and provide him with the kind of service all forwards crave.

    • SanFran415 says:

      Deuce is very diplomatic. He would not degrade a teammate in public. Who knows what he actually feels.

      • Alex says:

        True, but saying that your teammate has improved is not degrading him in the least. If there had been significant, marked improvement from Altidore, we’d have heard it. What we’re getting from every source is that he’s simply taking advantage of improved play around him. Now, has he improved from the days when his coaches called him out on lazy training habits and the like? You bet! But my guess (and his club stats reflect this) is that he’s been playing at this level for a while, at least in the last year, and once the USMNT was able to provide him with the service, he was able to deliver the goals.

      • I wouldnt call deuce diplomatic… homeboy is constantly yelling at his teammates when they eff up.. see Gonzo, Castillo, and Boyd

        • SanFran415 says:

          All bets are off during the match.

          But off the field with the press he’s very careful with his words.

        • Riggity says:

          Seriously? That’s on the field while they are working, when Deuce is in front of a mic, he is very diplomatic. Case closed

        • SJ says:

          Add in F. Johnson and Zusi last night

  15. DC Josh says:

    I’ve been a big supporter of Altidore. He had a rough period in Spain, England, etc., but now he has matured and is set to do BIG things for his club and country. I would not be surprised if Roberto Martinez makes a bid for him.

  16. the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

    I said this in another thread but this game truly showed Jozy’s improvement for me. It was a frustrating game, especially early on, where we struggled to really attack with any consistency. A year ago, we might have seen Jozy jog around without purpose and get yanked after 60 or so minutes. Last night he was hustling on defense, fighting for position, holding up play and finished when the chance finally came. Great to see him hitting his stride for us finally.

    • Old School says:

      Your observation is exactly what many of us have been saying.

      Two way street.

    • Judging Amy says:

      I also saw him do a lot of little things really well (He slide tackled a guy at midfield in a defensive effort! You kidding me!). That and his confidence was great.

    • away goals says:

      Yeah but a year ago our flanks were occupied by danny williams and jose torres.

      No amount of hustle from jozy (or any other forward) was going to lead to the fluid play we’re seeing now.

      The biggest impact on jozy’s usmnt form has been klinsmann’s decision to abandon the 3-man holding midfield and play two natural wide players.

      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        The service issue was clear for all to see…or not see I guess. It just wasn’t there. The service has improved. Jozy has also improved. Simple as that.

      • beachbum says:

        and also to not ask Jozy to have to do all the high pressure point of attack stuff alone

  17. David M says:

    Does anyone know why Jozy never puts his hand over the heart during the playing of the national anthem? He’s the only one on the team who doesn’t do that.

    • Judging Amy says:

      Ahh, right on time! You crack me up, friend. Don’t ever change.

    • Brent says:

      He plays, care, love, and most importantly scores for this country. Does it really matter?

    • David M says:

      Truly amazing. I ask a simple question, a question that no doubt a number of people have been wondering about, and get a bunch of arrogant, all-knowing, righteous sermons in response. And, by the way, I never put my hand over the heart during the national anthem either.

      • Judging Amy says:

        Apologies, think we had you confused with someone else who always pipes in criticizing Jozy for not holding his hand over his heart during the anthem.

    • Kevin_H says:

      Jozy is not a team player nor a patriot. He makes it a point to not conform and be a part of the team whatsoever. Not only does he NOT put his hand over his heart for HIS COUNTRY’S national anthem, he does a half-@ssed squat for the team photo. And pay attention to the next line-up. Jozy will be up top. BY HIMSELF.

  18. Dan M says:

    Also, let us not forget that Jozy is eyeing a possible big transfer in Europe. Players always perform better for club and country in those situations.

    In light of the past problems with scoring, I think it is too soon to conclude he is better than Chicharito. But if he keeps this up for a season or two, then it will be clear. But, yes, the past month has already shown promise for the Altidore > Chicharito argument. I am just saying don’t forget about their respective track records quite yet.

  19. Zack says:

    The halftime adjustment of moving Michael Bradley higher up, was crucial in get more action in the final third; Jones is the deep lying playmaker type; Bradley is the box-to-box player. Don’t waste him in the back.

    • Judging Amy says:

      Good insight. Very happy with Klinsmann’s moves against a very scrappy Honduras that was staying disciplined and defending tooth and nail.

    • Alex says:

      While I agree with you for the most part, I think it’s ridiculous to call Jones a deep lying playmaker. Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso, and, to a lesser extent, Michael Carrick are deep lying playmakers. It’s just semantics, I know. I agree with your point though. Jones has a lot of success as a box to box guy for Schalke (see his performance in the Champion’s League this past season) but with the USMNT, he’s got to curtail his forward ambitions. MB is the man in the middle for the US, and Jones has to facilitate that. With a little tactical discipline, I think we could see Jones play the “Geoff Cameron against Panama” role even better than Geoff Cameron did, but the way he is determined to play makes him a less than ideal partner for MB.

      • r.benjamin says:

        Yes. This exactly.
        And for this reason, I would start Geoff Cameron if the next game were tomorrow. In addition to what you said, notice how the team is spaced in comparison.. when Cameron is in. Dempsey and the wings get more involved and create better space.. And finally, with Cameron anchoring the midfield you dont see the other team cutting large swaths down the middle.

      • Brett says:

        There’s no reason to change the way Jones plays, except for his propensity for reckless challenges. The two need to realize that they effectively play one position.

        I think having two box-to-box midfielders is good as long as they understand their partnership. I think that’s come around slowly but surely, but at times i think both get sucked a little too forward still.

    • Ben says:

      Bradley is a solid above average box to box midfielder, as a defensive midfielder MB is world class. It is really a shame the US doesn’t have a true attacking center mid because then MB could play his natural position and you would really start to see this system start to click. For a bit it looked like Holden was going to be that player but then the injury bug took a big bite of him.

      I will say MB does even better as a box to box midfielder when he is with Cameron because his role is more defined as opposed to “this time you, this time me” he has to play with Jermaine Jones. Of course JJ is also a world class defensive Midfielder and an above average box to box guy. I always wondered how this team would play if a coach went to JJ and said you are the 6, stay home and break up plays and distribute to the wings or MB.

      • Alex says:

        I disagree. I don’t think Bradley defensive qualities are his best qualities. It’s his physical presence, stamina, calmness under pressure, passing accuracy, and soccer IQ that make him great. Do I think he’s a “world class” player? That term is so subjective but even so, no, I don’t. He could get there, who knows, but I agree, he’s an above average player. I just don’t think you’re getting his qualities right. His defensive abilities are good but by making him a number 6 you lose all of his other qualities. This isn’t to disparage MB, by the way; I think he’s the most important cog in the team at the moment.

      • Brett says:

        You’re throwing around “world class” too liberally and cheapening the honor of that distinction. Neither of these players are world class; I’d say that neither is even in the top 25 in the world at their position.

  20. bryan says:

    good read, Jozy is going to have an interesting summer. i really hope he is smart about his next move.

    • Old School says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Judging from the few interviews I’ve seen and read, it appears he knows this as well and won’t move, for the sake of moving.

      He appears to really love where he is right now and understands how vital it is to be in a spot he’s comfortable.

  21. LarryB says:

    I think that one thing a lot of people have been overlooking on his new found prowess around the goal is the runs that both he and Clint have been making. Both are making better runs that are doing an excellent job of clearing space. As it stands now, most of the attention has been on Clint and Altidore I think is realizing that the defense seems to go where he is and he is picking the spots where Demsey isn’t.

  22. golfstrom says:

    Jozy’s struggles weren’t about “service”, they were about “interplay”. Watch his goals in Holland, he’s playing one and two-touch with teammates with lots of interchange. Of course there were plenty of goals where he’s in the traditional #9 spot and preying on a cross, but his “struggles” for USA were more about being completely isolated from the 5 holding midfielders Klinsmann fielded behind him than “lacking confidence” (hate that one) or being “out of form” (please) with the national team. The whole time Jozy was like the foreigner who comes to MLS and wonders why no one will play one-twos with him. Not having 10 holding mids in the team, keeping Dempsey underneath him, and Zusi whipping in great crosses is all helping. Sorry for all the air quotes.

    • away goals says:

      Completely agree. His hold up play has improved because he now has attacking players in range for quick layoffs. Then he can spin off and look to combine again.

      Seven games in a row now with only two holding mids and they’ve all featured a lot of fluid play. Well, except for belgium.

  23. Fredo says:

    I’m happy for Jozy now, but he deserved some bashing then.

  24. Terrence Boyd says:

    Sigh.

    • Brett says:

      You cost yourself big time by being a selfish player, Terrence. Maybe 2018 will be your time, but I doubt it.

      • Old School says:

        Aren’t all strikers selfish to an extent? Like WR’s in the NFL, you’re ALWAYS open. It just comes with the territory of the position.

  25. Ryan in NYC by way of NC says:

    Was never a fan of the “lazy” remarks Jozy used to get. It almost had racial undertones to it and it never felt/ read right to me. I hope we can finally put those remarks to bed, b/c no one on the pitch worked harder than him last night.

    • Charles says:

      I understand your concerns, but there are plenty of every race that have intensity issues….and intensity is the one thing you can correct, so it is possible that someone was but isn’t anymore, and without changing skin color even. ;-)

      I think Eddie Johnson needs to step up the intensity for 90 minutes. Nothing to do with him being any skin color.

    • Old School says:

      Race card.

      Fail.

  26. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Altidore wasn’t scoring because the midfield was a mess. Now USNT the midfield better order, Cameron and Fabian Johnson help give new life in the midfield, while Evans really became a great pure defender on the backline.

  27. Jeff says:

    JK has Jozy receiving balls to feet, no more lob it forward to chest or head. 2 of his 4 recent goals came on balls slotted on the ground, one more was thigh-level, only one header. When the ball is played long out of the back, it is to forwards’ feet not chest or head. This is one of the signature differences tactically between JK’s game and BB’s – keep the ball on the ground, those providing service try to turn the corner rather than serve from it or better yet receive the ball at the edge of the box not the touchline. Jozy is clinical finishing with the ball down low – look at his highlights for AZ. Not so much playing with his head and chest.

  28. Don't care says:

    Its pretty hard to lead the US in WCQ goals, score against spain, and score 2 goals in the last gold cup being lazy. And if he was lazy it speaks even more to his level of talent. Its no coincidence Jozy stopped scoring once jk became coach.

  29. Leo says:

    I think Jozy has had more minutes this year than he had in the previous two years.

    In my opinion, many have been quick to criticize without looking at cold hard facts. Number of minutes played, overall lack of production by the entire squad, lack of cohesion within the squad, etc.

    People can criticize his USMNT form all they like, but his class has always been evident. I just hate the fact that people call him “lazy” when he’s anything but. Frustrated at the lack of service, sure, but not lazy.

    • Kildman says:

      He’s not lazy at all. He is going to be terrific come WC 2014.

    • Old School says:

      So you acknowledge he sulked, lacked maturity and was a poor teammate because he didn’t get the service he would have liked. Not lazy, but you definitely acknowledge the rest in your post with the, “Frustrated at the lack of service, sure, but not lazy.”

      That shows some progress in your understanding of the “two way street” statements I’ve been saying.

      You’re the first one to bring up “total minutes” into the debate. Which is a bit odd because when he was available? He started. When he started? He was only subbed for being “frustrated” or by simply “not scoring”.

      The entire lack of cohesion is something the rest of the squad went through as well. Not sure why Jozy is exempt from putting forth 100% but this didn’t seem to bother Dempsey and a majority of his goals were in the box….from service, where most strikers are/should be.

      I really think people in the Jozy-apologist camp are the lazy ones because the only thing they can muster is referring to the opposition in the debate as always saying Jozy was “lazy”, when the majority of us were saying Jozy was “being a bad teammate” by not putting forth the effort of his peers.

      He’s exempt though, I get it. Something about service.

  30. Jason says:

    Aren’t Chicharito and Altidore two different kinds of strikers? As far as I know, Hernandez isn’t a hold-up player like Jozy is. They are built differently and are asked to do different things. Can Altidore match the speed and movement of Hernandez? Nope. Can Hernandez hold off defenders as well as Altidore? Probably not. Two different types of players.