Altidore disappointed to miss World Cup, but hungrier than ever to return

Jozy Altidore

Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

SALVADOR, Brazil — Twenty-three minutes, no goals and an injury. This was not the World Cup that Jozy Altidore envisioned.

The U.S. Men’s National Team was eliminated from the tournament by Belgium in the Round of 16 on Tuesday night, leaving Altidore with even more disappointment than most of his teammates. The 24-year-old forward suffered a left hamstring strain 21 minutes into the Americans’ opener against Ghana, was replaced two minutes later and never returned to action.

He had made recent strides in his recovery, but it was too late, and Altidore was near the bottom of the U.S. roster in minutes played. Being close to a recovery but not getting back to full health before the Americans were bounced out of the World Cup was a bitter pill to swallow for Altidore, but it also helped him realize what playing in the tournament means to him, he said.

“As you get older you start to see things from a different perspective,” said Altidore. “Sitting aside kind of helped me see how important this is to me and how much I want to be here.”

Regardless of what U.S. Soccer said about his availability on its social networks the day before the Belgium test, Altidore was never really a serious candidate to play in the 2-1 extra time loss. It was evident in the pre-game warm-ups at Arena Fonte Nova when Altidore did very light work with the ball, and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted after the match that his first-choice striker was not yet ready.

Altidore’s absence was felt in the match and throughout the tournament and so too was the lack of a natural replacement. Klinsmann was forced to fill Altidore’s spot by taking Clint Dempsey — one of the U.S.’s more creative players — and throwing him up top to spearhead the attack. Dempsey did an admirable job and scored a goal while serving as the lone striker, but deploying him up top instead of in the midfield meant he would see much less of the ball.

That played a role in the U.S.’s struggles to maintain possession throughout the tournament, but Altidore was still impressed and happy with what he saw from his teammates.

“I’m very proud,” Altidore said. “When you look at the group, the way we came out of the group, the way we at times dominated the Portugal game, teams we were supposed to have no chance of beating. But I think now the belief has to be — we’re going to have chances against these teams, we know that — now about improving our players, improving our league so when we get to these tournaments we can make a difference.”

Altidore will be just 28 years old in four years, putting him in his prime for the World Cup in Russia. He hopes to be there leading the U.S. attack, much in the same way that he was supposed to this summer before an unfortunate injury killed his chances to make that happen.

“It’s something really hard to take obviously because it only comes around every four years,” said Altidore. “But at the same time I’m happy seeing the young guys get to see what it’s all about, just how much it means. Hopefully, we’ll come back strong.”

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58 Responses to Altidore disappointed to miss World Cup, but hungrier than ever to return

  1. Dinho says:

    Everyone is thinking it…. how about a projected starting XI in 2018…

    ————- Jozy ——– Agudelo —-
    Green —– Mix — Gil/Bradley —- Flores
    Johnson — Brooks – Cameron — Yedlin
    —————— Guzan ———————

    • Dinho says:

      Throw Johannsson in for Agudelo, maybe? Or, Hoya on for Flores? Bedoya will be 31. Will Shea mature by then….?

      Exciting…..

      • JayAre says:

        I don’t care what the starting line up looks like. I just want all these guys to become legit footballing threats. If Agudelo and the other young guys fulfills their potential and still doesn’t start that just shows how good we are. Tevez was coming off the bench for Argentina, Mata and Fabregas came off the bench for Spain, Lukaku came off the bench for Belgium and killed it, thats the kind of team I want a team were stars aren’t guaranteed a spot. It’s not about the starting line up it’s about the quality of the line up. If Jozy is playing well in four years and he’s struggling to get PT with the national team I’ll be happy knowing we are that good.

        • t says:

          Exactly ! Completely useless to make starting lineups. Great soccer nations have interchangeable parts in depth. To be one you need way more than 11 starters. Their youth programs – pyramids – are set up to keep overall level high and maintain it, so that after a chosen few there isn’t a big dropoff. In the US we kind of just look for diamonds in the rough to fill the 11 spots on the field, the choice of which produces much debate that is meaningless for the reason you suggest.

          We all want quality but it isn’t accurately measured looking at the national team’s starting lineup. Rather by watching a youth team or intercity squad or just a bunch of kids in the street play the beautiful game well.

    • Fair Observer says:

      a couple things im thinking in terms of overall agreeing with your lineup.

      is Tim Chandler just a sub? wouldu consider moving FJ up to midfield?

      What if Zalalem ends up being able to play for us?…… 4-3-3 then? Green-Jozy-Zalalem would be a nice front 3 with Bradley/Gil- Mix- FJ could be a good mid (Flores, and williams as subs)

      Also, dont be suprised if S Johnson or Hamid takes over Guzan in 4 years. Guzan will be 33, which isnt that old for a GK BUT Hamid and Johnson are plenty good already…

      • Dinho says:

        Chandler hasn’t showed me anything to warrant a starting position. Considering FJ’s consistency and Yedlin’s upside, I don’t see that changing. I may be wrong. 4 years is a long time! I can see Packwood replacing Cameron…

        Zelalem is such an unknown at this point, but ya, that’s a good point.

        I don’t see either Johnson or Hamid being better than Guzan. Even if Guzan is 33. (Howard is 35, by the way).

        So many other “what-ifs” and “could-be’s”:
        Pelosi
        Pulisic
        Hoya
        Cuevas
        Acosta
        Hyndman
        Wright
        Gallardo

        • Troy in his apartment says:

          Chandler has 4 years to grow and is already in the Bundesliga. He could easily be the starting fullback. He will be in his prime in 2018 and Johnson will be 31 on the back end of his prime. Yedlin will be 24 which means he should just be entering his prime.

          If Brooks, Yedlin, and Green can reach towards their full potential we should be potent. We also seemingly have the depth to make all starters, Bradley included, sweat and have to work really hard to be there.

          • PD says:

            Stuart Holden and Brek Shea are two ways promising players don’t pan out….

            • Troy in his apartment says:

              Of course. That goes without saying for any young player. Green is a guy who could easily flame out since he really has no professional experience. The other two have some at least. I expect Yedlin to move abroad and soon. I wonder if one of the guys from the team will tell their manager to make a run at him. I know that there is some chatter (more gossiping than anything) about making it to a big league right away. I would rather see Yedlin in one of the lower leagues like Eredivise (I know that low of a league) or the like and get his feet wet.

        • chris says:

          Seriously! The people penciling Chandler in the starting lineup must have not seen him play last season. There is a reason he did not see the field and a converted LM that plays in Mexico did

          • Donovan's Ghost says:

            By most accounts i’ve read he was playing well in the Bundesliga and than got injured and worked hard to make it back. Beasley is a great example for all of our future stars. Hard work and tenacity pay off. To be dismissing Chandler at this stage in his career is silly. Would love to see more U.S. players in Europe. Our solid MLS players can get us to the knockout but as we saw with the Zusi and Wondo it will only get you so far.

    • Dantheblue says:

      Gonzalez

    • Amru says:

      I think mix will be the Jose Torres or 2010, a player who just doesn’t develope the way we would like him to. It would be awesome if he proves me wrong, but he really needs to move to a more challenging league

      • Dennis says:

        Mix would actually benefit from playing in MLS since his weakness seems to be when he has to face hard pressure. There are plenty of athletic teams in the MLS willing to pressure. (Of course, some would claim it might be too physical and the risk of injury is higher, but I am not sure I buy that so much). The EPL would be fine as well, but his lack of physicality might mean he would see little playing time there and as Holden has demonstrated, England is not necessarily a safe place to play either.

    • Aaron says:

      Harrison Shipp will start in central midfield. That’s my prediction.

      • AJH says:

        Dude could make the roster at least possibly. To stay in that Fire vein, Quincy Amarikwa may make a name for himself in the next couple years. Hes still pretty young i think.

    • Rich says:

      Throw in Haji Wright for Agudelo.

  2. Landon Klinsmann says:

    …..Pulisic, Wright….. just to soon to guess, really.

    Jozy has to just worry about this BPL season

    • Troy in his apartment says:

      No kidding, he has until the winter window and if he doesnt produce or appease Poyet he will be gone.

    • JayAre says:

      I know lets at least wait till the Czech friendly. Klinsmann already said he’ll call a few young guys in for the next few friendlies and let the vets sit for some time so we’ll get a clear picture from there & don’t be surprised if certain vets never get called in again after this period. Thats how Bocanegra got the axe. This may also be Howards last hour with the NT. I can’t see him playing in the GC next year all that flying gets to you faster with age.

      • Donovan's Ghost says:

        no question the job is Howards for the next few years unless he gets injured, has a drop in form or he decides to retire from the national team. 2018 is still a way off so we just may see a young Klinnsman vs. Howard goalkeeper storyline develop.

        • Troy in his apartment says:

          Not a chance. Guzan isnt that far behind Howard and some people will say Guzan is better but just hasnt had a legit shot yet. With Howard’s WC, I doubt that could be true (him being better) but in a couple years I could see them being level since Howard will diminish and Guzan will most likely be the same or slightly improve

  3. KingGoogleyEye says:

    Obviously any injury stinks for a player in the WC, but Jozy’s seems particularly cruel. Most other players have good professional clubs they just left and will go back to. For Jozy, the WC was going to be an oasis of positivity in an otherwise dreadful year. I really hope he can get his club situation sorted out.

    • Tom says:

      Yeah

    • Troy in his apartment says:

      I agree, hopefully he just works his butt off. Poyet seems to be a fan so he should have a shot at least coming off the bench. He just needs a breakthrough early in the season. Hopefully Sunderland do something to augment their midfield so they can have some help.

      With Borini gone and maybe Wickham as well (if he doesnt sign an extension soon he will be transferred as his contract ends in a year and can be had on a free next window). Sunderland wont want to be completely out 8 million (the price they paid Ipswich). So if Wickham doesnt sign then they will be forced to keep Altidore in my opinion. Sure they will look elsewhere for a starting caliber striker but Altidore will be up there.

      • Fair Observer says:

        i believe borini’s exit is the key to Jozy’s success. not that Borini isn’t good, etc, but i’m hoping Poyet is considering starting Jozy and Wickham as just two big f-ing strikers. let them gel in preseason on how to work with other and get your midfield in order to just supply them all game. teach AJ to cross instead of slashing in for a shot EVERY time, haha. i like AJ and he’s good but ya know a little balance is nice. shots/crosses. i know bridcut’s there and i think larson resigned right?
        but they need to really work with Giaccerini as a cam.

        Jozy Wickham
        Larson Giac AJ
        Bridcutt

        isn’t a terrible start so far tho. maybe move giac to LM and find another solid CAM in the window, etc……

        3rd EPL season’s a charm right??? (1 for Hull, 1 so far for Sund)

      • Annelid Gustator says:

        I have to agree–they’ll give him a chance, but not a big one. He’ll have to seize the day.

  4. Insanity is... says:

    I honestly don’t understand this site… All this World Cup news and transfer news. Who cares?? All I know is that we should be getting 24/7 Freddy Adu news!! He’s on trial in Norway for heaven’s sake!!

    Forget the Live Game Commentary! We need Live Freddy Commentary! I want to know how he is progressing, what he is eating, how his beep test went, are there any endorsement deals in the works?? Mark my words.. he will lead the US attack in 2018!

  5. DCFAN says:

    Jozy should push to play in the Olympics (assuming we qualify). It would be great to see him and Donovan as two of the over aged 23 players.

    • Troy in his apartment says:

      Problem is that Ramos and Jurgen have alluded to having Yedlin go so there is one of the three spots. Then many believe Howard will be used since that probably will be his National Team goodbye.

      The fact that the depth of strikers isnt all that great, I could see the need to have as many young strikers used as possible.

      Heck with the tournament he just had, I almost want Bradley to go get confidence. His problem is that he wont face the type of competition in the midfield like he faced in the world cup playing in MLS. Every once in a while he will against Beckerman/ALonso/etc but they still arent above his level. That was why I was more concerned about MLS talent level hurting him more than Dempsey. What Dempsey needed was to have a hot streak of scoring goals. Anywhere would have sufficed. Bradley needs to challenge himself to better at quick decisions and other mental aspects. Plus he had more than one cup to worry about since Dempsey will hopefully be pushed out by better players (in 2018 anyways).

      • Umlaut says:

        Yedlin is only 20 and the Olympics are in two years, so he will still be one of the U-23 players.

      • mike says:

        But Bradley was played out of position for the entire tourny. You have to consider this.

        • Troy in his apartment says:

          Yes I know but one has to consider the possibility that his game has hit its peak. Sure maybe he just sits in the B2B mid the rest of his career. That is why it is necessary to have 2 or 3 viable options to have as a creative mid. Hopefully Mix and others can fill that role so Bradley can do what Jones was doing next tournament and wreak havoc from the back forward. You could tell that Bradley was more comfortable when he was in the back defensively and beginning the transition to offense instead of when he was higher up receiving the ball and needing to get the right pass to open up the final third.

    • JayAre says:

      Why would you insult those U-23 guys like that? Jozy I can understand but a 34 year old LD? H*ll no. I remember how McBride played in 2008 killing that teams rhythm and LD has already said he’s not the same guy he was before I don’t think he’ll be able to keep up with our U-23′s at all

    • SingularityCup says:

      Donovan is done at the international stage. He continues to burn those bridges with Klinsmann. Oh add to the fact that Donovan is 32 as well.

    • Ali Dia says:

      I would think we’ll see a situation where the Copa America is the focus of the “A” group (as WCQ’s and higher-profile friendlies were last summer), while the Olympics are used for the u-23s and a few fringe senior guys including a veteran captain (kind of a like a younger version of the Gold Cup side last summer). I can’t see any of the Copa America starters/primary guys being overage guys for the Olympics, unless they have been coming off injury etc. and need the matches.

  6. Luke says:

    Sometime in the next cycle I would like to see this formation. With 3 CB’s and FJ and Yedlin playing wingbacks and marauding up to the opposing goaline and sending in crosses and tracking back to defend the outside.
    —————–Jozy—————–

    —-Green——-Mix—————-AJ

    —————-Bradley—————-

    FJ———————————Yedlin

    ——-Brooks–Besler–Gonzo———

    —————–Guzan——————-

  7. BamaMan says:

    Folks keep listing lineups for 2018. I want us to go out and try to win the Gold Cup in 2015 and Pan-Am Cup in 2016. Those are legitimate tournaments whose trophies we should go all out for. The Gold Cup in the year right after the World Cup is always a much bigger deal because there is no World Cup qualifying and the big time players usually show up. 2011 was fun to watch (although the final was rough). The Europeans don’t look at the Euros as a World Cup warmup; it’s an end to itself. The Olympics I could care less for. Use it as a training ground.

    • PD says:

      Oh sure, Gold cup champs again, and strong Olympics to bleed new players. Centenario 3rd place finish is a shot across the bow of the rest of the world. Confed cup finalist 2017, then American press and fan base begins the “this is the year we win the big one BS to eat their own just like the Brits do to their national team. 3 and out, dead after dropping the first two in blowout fashion.

      I speak it out loud so that it doesn’t happen.

  8. The Who says:

    Jozy
    Green. Fagundez.
    Mix
    Bradley Gil
    Johnson. Yedlin
    Farrell. Brooks
    Guzan

  9. Dave Beltramini says:

    I got drop a note in here about Nagbe. He will be a US citizen by then. I have to think his possession skills and control make him a candidate for this team too.

    • Troy in his apartment says:

      He more than most anyone else needs to go abroad the second he gets his citizenship. I almost think he has hit a lull and the fact that teams just hack him to the ground is sad to see. I hope he moves abroad ASAP.

    • Twomilerule says:

      His speed with the ball at his feet is unseen on the current USMNT. Nabge can hold the ball and make multiple guys miss. Has a great shot around the box. The one thing really lacking is his vision when holding the ball deep in the midfield. He will get called up when the passport is done.

  10. Adam leroux says:

    We will be loaded with talent by 2018
    Ben lederman
    Josh pynadeth
    Junior Flores
    Caleb stanko
    Alfredo morales
    Diego fagundez
    Fabian hurzeler
    Joe gyau
    Boxi yomba
    Pulisic
    Rubio rubin
    Ben spencer
    Haji wright
    Joe gallardo
    Luis Gil
    Nagbe
    Zelalem
    Julian green
    Aron johannson
    Fredua adu
    Mix diskerud
    Paul arriola
    Xsu shu
    Etc….we have the players to really become a good team

    • Troy in his apartment says:

      Yes some of those guys will be okay. Others will fail and some will be great. There will also be guys that no one has heard of climbing up the ranks as well.

  11. Twomilerule says:

    If Lukaku goes back to Chelsea. Martinez should bring Altidore into the Everton mix. Both Everton and Altidore will do well under the tutelage of Martinez.

  12. Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

    ITA. Everton is well suited for Jozy. Martinez is an excellent coach. Everton has some quality players and might actually spend some money with some of that Europa League money they earned.

  13. Footballisking says:

    I would like to see Tim Howard as the starting GK on the Olympic team, since most of the talent at that level would be overage anyway.

    • Tom_in_So_IL says:

      I’m not ready to wright Howard off yet. He was phenomenonal against Belgium. Let’s see in 4yrs. He won’t even be 40.