Monday Morning Centerback: On Altidore, his AZ hot streak and misguided criticism of his form for the USMNT

JozyAltidoreAZ (Reuters)



If you took a look at the leading scorers in Europe's top leagues right now, the list would include many of the most prolific scorers in the world. Lionel Messi leads La Liga with six. Robin Van Persie has four for Manchester United, tied for the most in the English Premier League. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as expected, leads Ligue 1 with five goals in the early season for Paris St. Germain.

None of those stars has scored more goals in league play so far this season than Jozy Altidore. The U.S. Men's national team striker has scored a whopping seven goals for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, taking his tally to seven after a thoroughly impressive hat trick (and assist) in AZ's 4-0 rout of Roda JK on Sunday.

Altidore's three-goal outburst showed off all his best qualities. His strength, deceptive speed and ever-improving passing. It was enough to draw plenty of excitement from American soccer fans on Sunday morning, but it also drew a fair share of consternation from a more cynical corner of the U.S. soccer fanbase which seemed to recite one complaint in unison.

"Why can't he do that for the national team?"

It is a fair question if all you do is look at the raw stats, which show that Altidore has yet to score a goal for the national team in 2012, and has managed just one goal for the U.S. in the past 14 months. It is not a difficult question to answer, though, if you have actually spent any time watching Altidore play for AZ, and if you have watched him toil away on in a U.S. national team attack that just isn't as good at creating chances as his club team is.

No, AZ isn't exactly a perennial goal-scoring machine. In fact, the club was only sixth in the Dutch League in goals last season. What AZ does is send numbers forward, attacking with a variety of midfield options. You know how the U.S. national team has been fielding an inordinate amount of defensive midfielders and struggling to generate chances accordingly? AZ is pretty much the opposite, trotting out a dangerous collection of midfield creators and speedsters who keep Altidore engaged and connected to a consistent attack.

Imagine being a forward for a high-octane offense, one that sets you up with chances and one made up of dynamic threats who combine well and make life difficult for opposing defenses. Now imagining leaving that behind every few months to join a national team sorely lacking creative midfield options, a team that regular leaves you starving for service.

Think about. Is Altidore missing chances for the national team? Is he squandering service and misfiring? No, he isn't even getting the chance to misfire. Instead, he often finds himself floating deep, begging for teammates to combine with, be it from the flanks or the middle of the park.

It really is that simple. Any notion that Altidore simply doesn't step his game up for the national team, or somehow isn't a good fit for the U.S. is just plain silly. It's like blaming someone for not being able to drive a tractor the same way they drive a sports car.

Some will point to Clint Dempsey, and in more recent months Herculez Gomez, for examples of players who are still producing goals despite the recent funk endured by the U.S. attack. Dempsey's form over the past year has been the best of his career, and trying to measure anyone by that standard simply isn't fair, and the reality is that it isn't as if Dempsey is finding tons of chances either. He's just burying every single chance that falls his way.

Gomez is doing well to contribute despite a lack of service, but he isn't lighting up the scoreboard at the same rate Dempsey is. He is fighting and scraping for any shred of a chance or half chance, and has done an excellent job of becoming the ultimate scavenger (Tim Howard recently compared him to retired Dutch star Ruud van Nistelrooy in that regard). As well as he has played, Gomez hasn't exactly been showered with scoring chances despite all the hard work, which is why he has managed just three USMNT goals this year, including one off a free kick. Gomez has also has not been immune from expressing recent frustrations about the U.S. attack and the lack of chances produced by it.

Much like Altidore, Gomez plays club soccer for a team that plays free-flowing attacking soccer. Santos Laguna has creators who make it fun for Gomez and strikers like Oribe Peralta to be a finisher. These days, being a U.S. national team striker is like being the squirrel in the Ice Age cartoon movies, desperately chasing a solitary acorn, many times in vain.

This all isn't to suggest that Altidore is the finished product, or a perfect player. But it is to show that criticizing him for things that simply aren't in his control, and choosing to ignore the fact that he is clearly improving and growing as a player, is a pointless exercise. Blaming someone for not having all the best traits of the other players in the pool, be it Dempsey's nose for goal or Gomez's hustle, is a pretty unfair standard to measure any player by.

What U.S. fans need to be appreciating about Altidore's form for AZ is that it clearly shows a forward improving, maturing and gaining confidence. It began last season, when Altidore scored 15 league goals and stepped his game up down the stretch as the club made a title push. This season, Altidore looks like a player fully in tune with his teammates, a player who is developing a better understanding of the forward position and how best to play in a attack that can actually function as an attack should.

To some, Altidore's big goal totals are more a product of the league he plays in than actual improvement on his part. This notion is the height of misguided cynicism. Is the Dutch League an attacking league where you're destined to see more goals than in most other leagues? Yes, but being a 15-20 goal scorer in the Dutch League is hardly an easy proposition, or more than just five players would have scored more goals than Altidore last season, and his seven goals this season wouldn't be three more than the next-highest scorer.

What it boils down to is this. Altidore is one of the best young talents American soccer has produced to date, and the fact that he is playing so well, at such a high level, should have American fans excited rather than cynical because he isn't duplicating his club exploits with the national team. Can you imagine going back 10-15 years and telling U.S. fans that a 22-year-old American was leading Europe in league goals, or even starting as a forward in the Dutch League. It would have made him a folk hero.

If and when the U.S. national team sorts out its midfield to strike a better balance between attacking and defending, and when Jurgen Klinsmann's team can start generating chances against all caliber of opponents, there is a very good bet that Altidore will be poised to take advantage of that. Whether it is the return of Landon Donovan, the emergence of Graham Zusi, the maturation of Brek Shea, or the introduction of young options like Josh Gatt and Joe Corona, something will need to change for the U.S. if the offense is ever going to get the most out of Altidore.

Until that time comes, all Altidore can do is continue to hone his skills and keep on scoring goals for AZ. After spending years toiling away on benches in Europe, Altidore is thriving and is sure to start drawing interest from bigger clubs. Still only 22, Altidore's future is as bright as any player on the U.S. national team and while he hasn't been finding the net for the U.S. lately, there is no reason to think the goals won't come eventually.

Before the goals come though, chances will have to come, so rather than responding to Altidore's next goal-scoring outburst with laments about his national team form, you might want to watch AZ play and ask yourself a better question than "Why can't he do that for the national team?"

The question you should ask is when will the U.S. national team have a midfield that can attack and create that way?

JozyAltidoreUSMNTHand (

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239 Responses to Monday Morning Centerback: On Altidore, his AZ hot streak and misguided criticism of his form for the USMNT

  1. Mat says:

    Altidore is the best pure striker the USA has ever produced.
    I don’t know if people even realize he’s only 22 years old. It’s nuts what he’s achieving at such a young age.
    Sky’s the limit for Jozy.

  2. T-moble says:

    Misguided, every criticism he gets is well deserved till he does something on the International stage. Some players at club level is not international material. If he wan’t the criticism to go away he has to do something to take it away.

    (SBI- “Every criticism he gets is well deserved”– spoken like a true misguided critic.)

  3. org says:

    Jozy is the best striker in Holland right now. 7 goals, 2 assists in 5 games

  4. NE Matt says:

    That squirrel wads in the Ice Age movies Ives.

    Madagascar had the funny team of penguins

    (SBI- After watching all those movies with the kids they’ve become one big blur. Love that squirrel though.)

  5. Nick says:

    Thanks for the Peter King style Monday morning article. It’ll be awesome if this is consistent.

  6. NE Matt says:

    Great article though Ives. I’m in the same camp as you – we just don’t provide our strikers with the kind of service Jozy gets with AZ. Without that, we are setting them up for long shifts without a sniff of the ball.

  7. Rik says:

    This article just saved me a ton of explaining, well done.

    If US can replicate the first half against Jamaica in Columbus more consistently, it’s a safe bet goals will start to come for Jozy with the Nats (Bradley, Landon (if hungry), in-form Dempsey and new blood on flanks should help that).

    Also, Herc is playing out of his skin and he’s great, but fact is he’s 30 and not starting for Santos. Before qualifying is over we’re going to need Jozy. I’d count on it.

    That said, there’s a common theme of Jurgen limiting Altidore’s minutes at camp and then him exploding back at club. Evil genius?

  8. Old School says:


    I don’t see eye to eye with the view point but I love reading the strong opinion.

  9. AngstChild says:

    By that same logic, why isn’t Wondolowski called in each USMNT camp?

    (SBI-Not really the same logic when they don’t play in nearly the same caliber of league. Not saying Wondo shouldn’t get calls, but your use of “By the same logic” is off the mark.)

  10. ANM says:

    Well said, Ives.

    To my mind there are a couple of huge mitigating factors in Altidore’s international form. Firstly, we’ve played a number of away friendlies that have required a deep-lying three man midfield. Secondly. Donovan and Dempsey have rarely been playing together for the US in the last year. When they are both on the pitch attacking from deeper positions, they unsettle defenses, providing space and opportunities for Altidore to play.

    For all the criticism that’s been leveled against Bob Bradley, I think his 4-2-2-2 was the ideal system for Altidore. With Dempsey and Donovan behind and a mobile striker like Davies running to the flanks, Altidore could thrive. The first goal against Spain in the Confed Cup in 2009 was the quintessence of this system working: Davies breaking wide and Altidore muscling in behind.

    I really see no reason why we can’t basically replicate this in the last two qualifiers by playing a 4-4-2 with Gomez as the second striker. It can become a 4-2-3-1 quite easily if we’re worried about defending a lead later.

  11. T-moble says:

    Yeah blame the mid, instead of Jozy not being able to hold up the ball. Jozy is always going to be the same player, and that’s why Gomez took his spot.

  12. Rik says:

    Wondo is a different kind of striker. Jozy is big, physical, and deceivingly quick when he wants to be. Wondo is more of a poacher, which Gomez and Dempsey are both better suited to fill.

    Also, the league thing. Although MLS arguably has better defense all-around.

  13. Grubbsbl says:

    I’m not sure it’s “well deserved.” Yes, in the home game against Jamaica he came on and had a horrible first touch and could barely complete a pass (his poor performance was only out done by Edu’s terrible performance). Having said that, Ives is correct. Altidore has clearly improved since his move to Netherlands. His finishing looks much better, as does his movement. If he keeps on improving at this rate the US could have a very good true 9 on its hand. Heck, I bet an interjection of Bradley and Donovan into a midfield with Zusi, Williams and Dempsey would generate a few goals for Altidore. And please, don’t blame Altidore for the result at Kingston, no one played well.

    Altidore is a young professional who has had way too much pressure placed on him by starving US fans. He will be 24 at the 2014 WC, expect big things.

  14. Tony in Quakeland says:

    It was amazing how many people blasted Jozy after the horrible first leg against Jamaica, yet didn’t bother to mention that Boyd, who replaced him, had the same problem – no service and no support. In fact, Gomez had just about nothing of the ball outside the first minute as well.

    Right now, Nats fans should be crazy with excitement about how he’s playing…

  15. Dawwilly says:

    This criticism is absurd. The U.S. midfield cannot function when you have three defensive options in the middle of the park. If you want to lob critiques at anyone, the target should be Klinsman. He should bring is Sacha, Lichaj, and others that have creative abilities and the speed to get forward. Klinsman is not evolving the senior team like he said he would. There are plenty of talented options in the team pool that need to be used and put in international situations so that are forwards can develop a fluid understanding with them. With out that we will more disappointments like we did in Jamaica. Ives’s article is spot on.

  16. matt says:

    Michael bradley will change all of this. if they both can play in october….its over.

  17. Nate Dollars says:

    because gomez holds up the ball so well?

    I don’t have a problem with gomez starting over jozy, because i think gomez might be better for the style we play right now (we need a poacher). however, if we ever start to play the beautiful attacking soccer that klinsmann says he wants, jozy will be the guy for that.

    and “Jozy is always going to be the same player”? really?? if you haven’t heard (in every jozy article ever), he’s still pretty young. you have no idea what type of player he’ll turn out to be.

  18. bottlcaps says:

    It’s unfair to compare the USMNT with AZ for several reasons: AZ has had weeks and months to work with Altidore and have him fit and sync up with teammates, the USMNT has days and more frequently hours, to mesh. AZ has taught him how to play in a certain formation, how to link up, and, more importantly, how to sync with the same players to identify proclivities and timing on runs. The USMNT frequently plays several different formations as Klinsmann continue to experiment and give players experience operating in those formations, which, in effect has Altidore paired with different players virtually every time he starts or subs,
    leaving a big learning curve for him.

    It may be frustrating (and gratifying) to see Altidore excel at the club level, but not at the Country level, but it will take time. As Klinsmann narrows his choices in formations and players, and as Altidore gains more time with his USMNT teammates, this will change.

    Lets not also forget that Verbeeck kept Altidore from a USMNT training camp this summers as he wanted to “rest” Altidore, and that time with the USMNT may have set him back, but only slightly.

    The improvemnets in Altidores game WILL manifest themselves with the USMNT as his experience and confidence grows. He may even learn to play a lone striker role up front, but for now, his AZ Club play will give all USMNT fans a chance to see a good footballer become a great footballer.

  19. Get serious, Ives says:

    The most naive article you have ever written Ives. How many counterattack goals per game would AZ Alkmaar give up against the likes of Italy and Mexico, or even Honduras and Guatemala? Lamenting that Jozy is not being surrounded by the requisite players is stupid, when the systems themselves are entirely different, and for good reason. Look what Makhachkala did to AZ a mere month ago in UEFA playoffs: 6-0 on aggregate! The simple give-and-go doesn’t come off so well against fast, physical centerbacks does it?

    Rather than bagging on Klinsmann you should be praising Ernie Stewart. He went out and got a hugely talented player whose style he knew would fit perfectly into their system.

  20. T-moble says:

    Any one that mention’s Sacha’s name, I can’t take seriously. Ives is not spot on, why? because club level and international speed of play is two different levels. Gomez is doing great, why? because he movement of the ball, is way better then Jozy. When I look at a player, I just don’t look at goals, I look at the player first touch, up hold play and movement of the ball, that is an complete striker. Lichaj is the only thing I agree with you about, Chandler is not playing for us time to move on. Time to Bring Lichaj, Pontius and play Corona more.

  21. T-moble says:

    It is not just Jamaica it’s other games as well, I blame the pitch being horrible in Jamaica and using Beckerman who is not the fastest against a speed team, like Jamaica, then blaming Jozy. However I can’t just forget about Jozy play for the USMNT, because he is doing it for his club. thats why I don’t get excited like most, seeing a few goals, till he does it for the USMNT.

  22. Tony in Quakeland says:

    T-mobile: Posting under another name to make it sound like someone else agrees with you? Sure sounds like it…

  23. T-moble says:

    I wish Ives had something that lets you fix errors.

    (SBI-Will hopefully be a part of the re-design.)

  24. T-moble says:

    well said Get serious, It got ugly.

  25. 457 says:

    Can we get another hat trick Mr Jozy?

  26. Ed says:

    I appreciate SBI addressing head on the readers who come on this board to whine about US players. It’s usually misguided and just plain stupid. I wish you would have done this when (Michael) Bradley was being attacked for no reason. Unfortunately I think most of the BS hurled at Jozy is from trolls, and even the most thorough, well reasoned and factual argument won’t keep them from posting their annoying garbage.

  27. Jamie says:

    In almost every big win for the US in recent memory, Jozy has played a huge role-Spain in 09, Algeria in 10, Italy in 11, etc.

    In games where nobody else showed up like Guadalupe at the Gold Cup he saved us.

    How about this-Klinsman, actually play a variation of the 4-3-3 like you said you would, a 4-2-1-3 is fine too. Jozy’s fluid play is so much better now that having him play a holdup role doesn’t reflect his his skill set-






  28. T-moble says:

    What? Listen Gomez style of play is not just a poacher, it’s his movement off the ball. That makes the great strikers of the world, not just on the ball skills, but again movement off of it. That is what you nee to play “beautiful soccer”, Jozy is never going to dev. that style of play, his first touch is horrible and his movement of the ball is just as bad.

  29. elgringorico says:

    Where exactly did he bag on Klinsmann?

    Your point is more in line with Ives than you seem to think. He isn’t saying that the US team should play more like AZ; he’s simply also stating that the differing styles are the explanation for Jozy’s varying production.

    I think the ultimate point here is that nobody, even you, can deny that Jozy is clearly improving, and that’s ultimately a very good thing for the USMNT.

  30. T-moble says:

    Trolls? how are we trolls? Again I repeat myself till Jozy zan do it for the USMNT, every criticism he gets is well earned.

  31. T-moble says:

    Zan, my bad “can”

  32. thegazelle says:

    Even though I don’t care for Peter King’s writing, hope “Monday Morning CB” becomes a regular feature…Go Jozy!

  33. T-moble says:

    Nor can you judge by watching his club play in a horrible defending league, that he is improving. Only by his USMNT can we tell if he is improving.

  34. Mrs Wondo says:

    I’ve seen Wondo’s name pop up in this discussion. I am of the opinion that he could be very useful for the USA in qualifying under the following type of circumstance: most likely playing at home, against a team bunkering where we can get chances but have been notoriously susceptible because we are not finishing. Wondo finishes about 50% of his chances. In a game where 9-10 men are behind the ball, a couple of half chances in the box for Wondo could break a team’s back. I believe he and Gomez are the only two guys in our pool who can offer that kind of poaching skill.

  35. Jay says:

    so you think the jamaica’s national team’s speed of play is faster than the dutch league? cannot take you seriously then…both jozy and gomez and any other US forward for the past decade have suffered from a lack of service because USA has not learned to consistently create chances from the run of play

  36. T-moble says:

    Again I’m not just taking about the Jamaican game, so you fail. Also as far as speed of the players, and athletic ability, Jamaica test Jozy more then the dutch league. The Dutch league is a technical league, however it is not a physical league, nor is a great defending league. Jozy has struggle and will continue to struggle because of his hold up play, and his lack of understanding what to do off the ball. He still has not learned this in the dutch league, to learn that he will have to move to La Liga or the BPL.

  37. Barrett says:

    Watched the AZ game last night. The big difference last night versus USMNT was the midfielders, just like Ives said. If you look at all four goals, every one of them comes from a one-touch pass from them midfield. Whether it was the one-two Jozy laid off that was immediately (one-touch) played back to him or the ball played over the top (one-touch) to him that turned into his assist or the exquisite ball over the top that he did so well to control with his chest and bury with the outside of his foot, they were all one-touch vision-showing passes from midfielders.

    When I try to imagine which US midfielder could make those passes, I come up with a list that includes Donovan, Feilhaber, and Adu (when he’s focused). I have trouble beyond that. I could include, very rarely, Torres, Sacha, Mix, and Holden, but none of them with any regularity. Do we get beautiful passes from folks out there now? Yes, but most of them either from deep midfielders hitting 40 yarders or from wingers/outside backs hitting a cross in. Vision in the middle of the park is distinctly missing from our current lineup.

    Why do we keep playing so many D-mids? Because it’s the spot with the most depth. Edu is a quality player – you don’t start for Rangers if you’re not. But he’s fourth or fifth on the list at a position that you shouldn’t have more than two on the field. Most quality teams only field one – Spain, for example, struggles to score when both Busquets and Alonso play. They’re better with just one of them.

  38. That's What She says:

    I agree that he hasn’t been getting nearly the service he gets from his club team at the international level, but it’s just very frustrating to see him disengage when he doesn’t have that service. I certainly don’t think all the criticism is warranted , and I’m very excited about how things have progressed for him at the club level, but to me it seems like he kind of plays like a forward who’s been spoiled and in turn doesnt play as hard when things aren’t flowing quite as well. Instead of disengaging when the service is bad, he needs to embrace it, and play with a different mindset.

    I also understand what you’re saying about how 15 years ago he would be a cult legend, but to quote Jay-Z “loiterers should be arrested”. Top to bottom US soccer is better, and we should never sit back and be satisfied with something that would’ve been satisfying 15 years ago. This isn’t me being mad that he’s doing it for them and not for us, it’s just about me being a little irked that he’s simply not doing it for us. AZ has nothing to do with it.

  39. T-moble says:

    So you are comparing the dutch league to the International level? you fail big time.

  40. RLW2020 says:

    Great article!!! Exactly what i have tried to say in response to Jozy haters out there!

    Love the part about Demps and Gomez finishing every few chance they get, its so true. So many 1-0 finishes with 1 opportunistic strike making the difference.

    The truth is its the midfield. The empty bucket, 3 D-Mid, negative football, whatever you want to call it will get some results but it kills the attack. We will get lucky sometimes a combination of 1 goal chance and superb goalkeeping/defending for a win but its not going to last forever.

    As the article mentioned we are in a holding pattern until Shea, Zusi, Gaat, Adu, etc. become legit 90-min international game changing midfielders. The one thing i see that might change this is if Lichaj can take the LB role and move Johnson to LM. Until one of those two options happens I expect a lot of 1-0, 0-0 or 0-1 games.

  41. Mike says:


    Great story. Let me repeat what has already been said a million times…hope this becomes a regular feature.

    Ives, wanted to throw this out to you. Do you think Jozy could end up back in the EPL soon? I know he had a tough spell with Hull a few years ago but let’s be honest that was Hull City and Jozy is a much better player. While he is a scoring machine in the Dutch league it’s no EPL.

    I would love to see him go to a mid level attack minded EPL side Swansea comes to mid but don’t think they could afford him now.

    Thus what about Liverpool? No joke it’s clear they need a scorer and they even admitted they wouldn’t have let Carroll go out on loan if they didn’t have a backup plan. Jozy could be the answer.

    How do you feel about Jozy getting sold in Jan window??

  42. Left lane, hammer down says:

    Nice column, I fully agree. However, as a Pitt alumnus, I hope to never see the words “high-octane offense” again. I’m sure Rice and Tulsa grads would agree.

  43. Barrett says:

    Did you watch the AZ game? What specifically impressed me was Jozy’s movement off the ball. On two of his three goals, and on the assist, his movement off the ball left him alone, with acres of space. He was looking for the dangerous place to be that wasn’t being covered by the defence, and he found it. That’s exactly the point Ives is trying to make – he’s improving substantially.

  44. The Second Gunman on the Grassy Knoll says:

    I know this is ultimately just Ives’ opinion, but how anyone can argue with that opinion and what’s being stated in this article completely baffles my mind. Sure, at times I’ve been more than frustrated watching Jozy play for our US squad, but a little perspective from those critics would go a long way.

    Watching his AZ highlights over the past year and a half shows he has unquestionably matured in every aspect of his game. It’s not even up for debate. And I for one am proud and excited for what should be a bright future for our 22-year (Jersey-born) striker. If and when our US team begins to send numbers forward with midfielders running off attackers and providing Jozy service in dangerous areas (like AZ does), then hopefully all those critics will have something different to say. I have faith in our young forward, I will continue to have faith and I hope the majority of Nats fans do.

    And while we’re at it, maybe even a little support for our players would go just as long a way instead of trying to cut them down for every lackluster performance (although sometimes a little verbal displeasure is well warranted… i.e. USA v Jamaica in Kingston).

  45. Andy is not impressed with your Captain Hindsight impression says:

    Oh surprise, surprise. Another American soccer writer taking credit after the fact for Jozy’s great club form. I guess the “cynical” corner of the US soccer media decided today would be a opportunity to show how smart they are.

    To be fair, I love Jozy and wish him great success. Only 22, I wish I was successful at that age. But this passive-agressive Monday morning QBing by the soccer media is absolutely ridiculous. Wow, you and Seltzer are so smart for telling us all how great Jozy is playing for his club. Anyone who watched that game noticed two things. Jozy is very talented and could become world class if he continues his rapid improvement, and Roda CANNOT PLAY DEFENSE. They had given up plenty of goals already this year, and after watching them against AZ I can see why.

    Jozy’s performance for the USA was terrible in both games. Jozy is also in great form for his club. These two sentences are not mutually exclusive, they can both be true. There is no way that Jozy gets more criticism than Reyna, Donovan, Bradley, or any of our important players have received in the past. I’m going to continue to cheer for Jozy while praising him when he does well, and rip him when he comes off the bench fresh as a daisy in the second half and proceeds to jog around while giving the ball away in a must win match.

    I understand that Jozy is not scoring with the USA because of JK’s defensive tactics. I don’t understand why I can’t criticize his unwillingness to take players on in the USA shirt(off the dribble and in the air) as well as his laughable “effort” during the last Jamaica game. Looking for one-two’s is great, but there are other ways to score. And if you can’t be bothered to RUN instead of jogging the for a whole 15 minute cameo, then put someone else on the bench who can do that job for him and leave Jozy out of the 18 altogether if you’re not starting him.

    “There is more to the game than just scoring goals”-generic USA soccer writer when Jozy doesn’t score. “Look at all the goals Jozy is scoring for his club! What do you think now, people who criticize Jozy!” – generic USA soccer writer when Jozy scores. So which one is it guys? Is there more to soccer than just scoring goals- then the criticism of Jozy’s lack of effort as well as his sloppy turnovers is justified. Or were we right to criticize him when he couldn’t score when his life depended on it? Or are we not supposed to criticize him at all and just let you tell us what to think?

    (SBI-Ultimately you can think and say what you want, and people can judge your impressions accordingly. And last time I checked Altidore has been doing well for more than a full season at AZ. This isn’t about one game, or one month, and the fact you try to boil things down to things like “It was only Roda” or “he jogged vs. Jamaica” speaks volumes about how you choose to watch him.

    And you talk about hindsight but before he got steady playing time at AZ I wrote about him improving as a player during his time at Hull, and how he could do well if he went to a good environment with some regular playing time. I’m not saying I was alone in thinking that, but your notion that people are suddenly buying into Altidore as a good player because he’s scored a bunch of goals this season is off base.)

  46. Joe B NYC says:

    He already has developed that style for AZ. I understand you have issues with Jozy bit have you seen him play? Or is this just more of the usual troll crap. All this talk about his ‘horrible first touch’ is becoming a bad joke. And for all the ‘Gomez’ is so much better talk… Gomez must be so happy you haven’t seen him play while he was in MLS… And why is he back in the Nation Team fold? Because he played for teams in a league that could exploit his talent. Also Gomez is what, 31, 32? He and Dempsey know how to deal with the issues of not getting service. And another thing, people love to talk about Jozys time with Villarreal & Hull. He never got a chance with Villareal, but his goals scored out of games actually played is good. At Hull he didn’t score a lot, but neither did any of the other forwards there… Including Vennegor of Hesselink… Where were all you guys when McBride was in his twenties? Ok I’m done.

  47. Judging Amy says:

    As a Jozy fan, I’ll say this: I’m okay with playing whatever formation will get the results. And if Jozy doesn’t fit in that formation, well Klins has to do what he thinks is right. But I don’t understand those who think Jozy isn’t a good player. Clint had his fair share of critics on the NT until he found his current form. Same with Bradley. LD still gets hated on and probably will be again once he comes back from injury.

    I’m curious as to what the state of the US team really is right now. We’ve looked good at times but have generally been inconsistent and struggled to create on offense. Is it that Klins’ system isn’t working? Is it that he needs more time to fully implement his methods before we see greater success? Is it the injuries?

    I definitely see some positives coming out of Klins’ changes, but is there cause for concern in light of the negatives?

  48. Brian says:

    +1 Really enjoyed the article. More stuff like this would be appreciated. I take it, the response was from other’s comments on the Americans Abroad post, and very much appreciate the well thought out and well informed response.

  49. Stephen says:

    Did you even read the article?

  50. Ben says:

    My real problem with the article is the shot at US fans when many of his journalist friends have issued the same criticism of Jozy. When Jozy is reading criticism of his game, do you really think he is scouring the message board to see the opinions of us crank fans, or the many articles written by espn, si, and other sites about his production.

    (SBI-The article wasn’t in response to articles written by my “journalist friends”, but rather by the inordinate number of negative and cynical comments in response to his most recent goal-scoring run. I can’t say I’m spending time reading every story written about American soccer players, in fact I don’t read all that many, but I do read comments written by readers on SBI and by Twitter followers, and in both those cases I have seen plenty of misguided criticism, which is why I wrote the piece.

    And help me out here, am I not supposed to question opinions because fans make them? That doesn’t really leave much room to operate now does it? Being a fan entitles you to opinions, but it doesn’t entitle you to avoid criticism for said opinions.

    As for what Jozy reads and doesn’t read, I’d bet a pretty penny he’s more likely to read the cynical and negative tweets aimed at him than he is read every article written by every random writer. Call it one of the pitfalls of being a regular twitter user, where it’s way to easy to see mentions.)

  51. TomG says:

    Until he does something on the International stage? Obviously you weren’t paying attention when he lit up the Confed Cup a few years back. I guess scoring a goal to beat the best team in the world and reach the finals of a major international tournament somehow escaped your notice?

  52. TomG says:

    He is, by far, far, far, far, the best hold up player the US has. You’re just not making any sense at all.

  53. TomG says:

    The squirrel simile immediately makes this my favorite article ever.

  54. Randy says:

    late to the party i guess

  55. biff says:

    I agree basically with every point in the article. I am a huge fan of Jozy Altidore and am thoroughly enjoying his success at AZ. Jozy the past few years has paid some heavy, heavy dues (like at Hull City and in Turkey) and did not give up as some lesser men might have but kept pushing and it is now paying dividends. And, yes, I want to see Klinsmann stop playing three defensive midfielders at the same time, but instead bring in some new faces who play attacking midfielder at the club level and switch full-time to a single striker (4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1) and Jozy probably would benefit from this and be more productive. But (always a but :-), we do not know that for sure.

    The guy above (I think T-Mobile) has a valid point when he insists that the international game is different from the club level and you can’t lay all the blame for Jozy’s lack of USMNT production with Klinsmann. A Chris Wondolowski supporter could take the article above and substitute Wondo’s name for Jozy’s. I see all the time on this board that Wondo is great at the club level, but just doesn’t have what it takes for the international game. It is possible that if Jozy would start scoring more goals under a more attack-oriented USMNT midfield, that Wondo also would be more successful.

    And last point, I think it is ridiculous how some USMNT fans try to turn this into a Jozy vs Herc discussion. They are both excellent forwards and there is plenty of room for both on the team and we are lucky to have them and both will contribute in the October WCQ games and (hopefully) next year in the Hex.

  56. Judging Amy says:

    I too often wonder at how a 22 year old with such evident physical and technical gifts can elicit so much argument within his own fan base. And I think the reason for that is the frustration you mention experiencing when watching him play. I’ve felt the same way watching Jozy. But I feel like a lot of young players evoke the same feelings. Maybe expectations are too high. IDK.

    Either way, with Gomez and Demps certainly not making it past 2014, and few other options on the horizon aside from Boyd (who looks great), Jozy is probably our striker for the future.

  57. TomG says:

    Again you show how clueless you are about this. You really shouldn’t comment about things you know nothing about. Jozy’s first touch has become a huge strength for him. Just youtube some of his goals for AZ. Many of them exhibit world class touches. You can like Herc, that’s fine. I like him too, but just because you like one player doesn’t give you cause to make up negative stuff about another guy that you’ve clearly never actually seen play or certainly never watched closely.

  58. T-moble says:

    hahahahahahahah There’s a player called brian mcbride, that was the best hold up striker we ever had.

  59. T-moble says:

    hahahahahahaha A few years back, you just made my point.

  60. Will says:

    Good stuff Ives

  61. TomG says:

    You have to look at not only the goal totals, but the quality of the goals themselves to guage how good a player is. Jozy’s goals the past two years at AZ have exhibited an extremely high level of quality. Wondo has improved a lot and has scored his share of nice goals this year, but I, personally, haven’t seen him show the power, the strength, the touch, the combination, and the overall level of skill that Jozy has on his goals.

  62. T-moble says:

    All I saw was jozy giving up the ball and couldn’t control the ball, against Jamaica, so sorry if I’m not another hype US fan, I need results, so far he have given nothing at the USMNT, at this level, not club level, he has look like the same old Jozy.

  63. T-moble says:

    hahahaha Jozy sucks, did you watch the CL, that told me all I needed to know about Jozy.

  64. TomG says:

    Great article. It’s tough to score goals when you don’t actually play in the matches. What people don’t realize is that Jozy has started exactly TWO matches for USMNT this year. One versus Italy, where he was one of our best players and had a great assist where he exhibited total class, bringing the ball down in traffic, and laying it off to Deuce for the shot. He was invisible at Kingston, but so was the entire front line after the first 3 minutes. It’s tough to score goals when you’re not playing.

  65. JD in FL says:

    Take out Torres and substitute Williams – that gives a bit more bite with more overall speed. I liked seeing Williams in the CDM slot.

  66. JD in FL says:

    You’re forgetting Bradley. When he plays in more of an attacking MF role, he’s a great 1-2 passer that combines well with Donovan and Dempsey.

  67. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    Help me out because the Demps, Gomes point about finishing was the one I didn’t really follow. So Ives is basically saying don’t judge Jozy for now scoring for the US because Demps are scoring only because they finish the very few chances they get?

    That’s a very poor argument for defending a national team striker don’t you think?

    (SBI- The Dempsey point was that saying Altidore should score goals for the USMNT because Dempsey scores goals even without service is silly because A) they’re not the same player and B) they don’t play the same roles. Dempsey’s been in some of the best form in American history in the past year, which is what it has taken to still find goals despite the USMNT offensive ineffectiveness. As for Gomez, he has had a few goals (including a free kick) but he too is struggling to find regular chances given the state of the current U.S. midfield)

  68. Scott says:

    Wonderful phrasing in your first paragraph,
    ” Another American soccer writer taking credit after the fact for Jozy’s great club form. I guess the “cynical” corner of the US soccer media decided today would be a opportunity to show how smart they are.” Yes, because Ives took credit for his fine play. Right in the sentence that doesn’t exist. You know the one where he says he is the motivation of his good play. The one where he said he gave Jozy some tips.

  69. Brian says:

    I actually had the same thought about Liverpool. As a Liverpool fan, I’d love to see Jozy get a move there. I think FSG (Liverpool’s owners) are looking for an American star to really make a connection between the team and the United States soccer fan base. The fliration with Dempsey might have been an example of this, but just didn’t work out.

    And I suspect FSG’s commercial motivations are to try and make them a popular team to follow here in the United States, as evidenced by how many of their games are on Fox Soccer, and not just the EPL (pre-season games and Europa League games would be the main example).

    Another good reason that it’d be a really good move in January, is if Liverpool can stay in the Europa League past December, he won’t be cup tied by AZ losing in the final qualfiying round (at least I believe he wont be cup tied because of that).

    Liverpool gets a lot of chances up the field, and controls the ball, but just isn’t able to put it in the net so far this season (Borini being the main example). Jozy would be perfect to be on the end of this in situations different than what Luis Suarez is good at (making the runs from outside the box, and creating his own chances).

    I’d love to see Brendan Rodgers work with Jozy, and in turn, help out the USMNT. I see him as really encouraging and working with the younger players as that was his main background at Chelsea before moving on. Jozy, at 22, would be at a perfect age to start working with a really good coach. (No offense to the current AZ coaches as I dont know much about them other than the results they’ve gotten from Jozy so far).

  70. whoop-whoop says:

    If there is any argument that MLS defense is better than the Eredevisie, I would counter it with the fact that they are having to contend with far superior attacking teams and players on a regular basis.

  71. Whitney says:

    Brian you suck. Manchester United all the way!

  72. Adam says:

    Glad to see his progress, and hope he keeps improving. Club success doesn’t always translate to international success. Just ask Messi. (and in no way am I trying to say that Jozy is in the same category as Messi)

  73. Wayne says:

    Grammar is too good to be T-mobile.

  74. Helium-3 says:

    Dutch league is hardly physical as you described, 100% spot on. Anyone who disagrees with that fact, needs to watch some Dutch league matches and then you can come to your own conclusion rather than watch highlights.

    I saw one match involving Jozy, and Jozy pulled a professional foul in the middle of the field, but the ref gave him a yellow. This contact would not have even warranted a stoppage in play in MLS, let alone a yellow.

    Also, don’t forget the Guatemala game where Jozy is calling for the ball near the end and Bradley makes the pass and Jozy stops running after calling for it. Pure laziness.

    Just because you’re lazy doesn’t preclude you from being a top scorer. In Dutch league it is attack, attack and attack, and scoring chances are put on a platter for you.

    Remember Afonso Alves ??? 45 goals in Dutch league then goes to Premier League and then??? You newbies forgot already?

    If Herculez Gomez was getting boatloads of opportunities served up on a platter like what Chicarito is getting at Man Utd, he would be bagging them too.

  75. Chris H says:

    Yup…tied for 10th all-time in U.S. goals at the age of 22. He has done it for the USMNT. Your criticism of the Dutch League is poor. It is not the best defending league, yes, but he has an extremely productive year in the MLS as a 17 year-old with 9 goals in 22 matches. Your “what have you done for me lately” arguments are short-sighted and ultimately fallacious in their nature.

  76. Nate Dollars says:

    can do what?
    score a hat trick? he’s done it.
    score in a major tournament?
    he’s done it.
    score consistently? 12 goals in 40 appearances (counting late subs) for full national team; not bad for bunker-ball.

    you don’t seem to be mindlessly trolling, so maybe you’ve just started watching the national team. if so, welcome aboard.

  77. Ben says:

    Well, I’m excused from this because I haven’t made comments about his goal scoring. I’m in the camp that says, you can’t control the competition, only what you do on the field. But yes, I think you should ignore a lot of fan opinion because it is often stupid, facile, and fatuous.

  78. Wayne says:

    I think the lineup is interesting. I think Klinsman has made two errors lately that lead to a poor midfield performance and difficulty in holding the ball. One is the three defensive mids, the other is playing too many strikers. I fear that playing Gomez, Jozy, and Dempsey is just too much if we want good, flowing possession. I would rather Jozy up top with either Dempsey or Gomez underneath. Then you can slot in another winger or attacking mid, like Pontius, Zusi, etc. Otherwise, I think we’re demanding too much of Bradley, especially if Torres is replaced by Williams or Jones in this lineup.

  79. Mark says:

    My problem with Jozy Altidore is that he does not play aggressively to win 50/50 balls or pressure their defense to break up a play. He is lazy.

    Also, I have seen many times where someone puts a cross in the box for a header and he wont’ even try for it, like he’s scared. Also many times someone will give him a good ball and he won’t even try to make a run for it, b/c its not perfect.

    Lastly, I’ve seen him cough up the ball a million times, mostly due to a bad first touch, so I don’t agree with people saying he holds the ball up well.

  80. Mark says:

    My problem with Jozy Altidore is that he does not play aggressively to win 50/50 balls or pressure their defense to break up a play. He is lazy.

    Also, I have seen many times where someone puts a cross in the box for a header and he wont’ even try for it, like he’s scared. Also many times someone will give him a good ball and he won’t even try to make a run for it, b/c its not perfect.

    Lastly, I’ve seen him cough up the ball a million times, mostly due to a bad first touch, so I don’t agree with people saying he holds the ball up well.

  81. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:


    You know I’m a frequent reader and poster and agree with most of your points of view. But please help help me out on you point about Jozy’s vs. Dempey’s and Gomes’ finishing because this one I didn’t really follow.

    So you’re basically saying Dempsey and Gomez are only scoring for the Nats because they finish the very few chances they get?

    That seems to be a very poor argument for defending a national team striker who isn’t scoring, don’t you think?

    (SBI-I know Michael. I just covered this in your previous comment. Dempsey is in a class by himself, and Gomez simply has played more games. It’s not like the guy has 10 MNT goals this year. He has 3, including one off a free kick.)

  82. Judging Amy says:

    This. He hasn’t been getting all that much time for the Nats. With all the clamoring for call-ups and playing time for young fringe players in second-tier euro leauges who show promise, why is the reaction the opposite when it comes to Josmer?

  83. Vic says:

    Mcbride scored plenty of goals in the EPL and USMNT. Until Altidore matches that McBride has to be considered better.

  84. GSScasual says:

    T-mobile.. we get it, your trying to make a name for yourself, albeit on a single thread in a soccerblog, but nevertheless, trying to stir the pot… Keep watching the game, gain some more knowledge, then contribute to the convo.. No disrespect, but we cant have an intelligent football conversation when you havent any football intelligence.. keep at it bro!

  85. Ben says:

    comma spliced myself. Anyhow, to continue, part of the problem with the criticism is that when reviewing sites like espn and si, people who have reviewed the performances have been critical of Jozy as well, so it’s not entirely accurate to write it off as a obtuse part of the fanbase.

  86. dcm says:

    Good post.
    Very very few of the people criticizing Altidore have even watched an AZ game. Just ignore them.

  87. Bush says:

    Note to self: check with Ives before criticizing an American player

    (SBI-Yep, that was EXACTLY my point. SMH)

  88. jb says:

    Ives, I think one thing that hurts Jozy’s image with the US fans is his appearance of “lack of effort” when on the field. The case in point for this came in Columbus when he was subbed in with 10 minutes to go, and he seemed to be jogging around waiting on the ball to come to him, when we were fighting for our lives to hold on to that result. It is particularly obvious when you have a scrapper like Gomez that embodies the word hustle.

    To be fair to Jozy, I think most of time he is doing this he is biding his time and trying to position himself wisely, maybe saving his energy for the next run. Donovan has been doing this for years, but he is much more savvy about it, and has never had a problem dropping back to defend when necessary.

    We have all seen what a motivated Altidore can do, (costa rica? match after Davies was injured) and I think its perfectly fair to wonder why he cant bring himself to go 100% or at least make it seem like he’s making more of an effort for the US.

  89. Dimidri says:

    Yes, he is comparing. concacaf to it…

  90. ian says:

    McBride wasn’t doing that at 22. Compare them at the same age and same point in their careers.

  91. Dimidri says:


  92. Dave says:

    I’m not one of those mad at Jozy for not scoring with the Nats lately. I get it and its cool.

    I’m mad at Jozy because against Jamaica last week he was asked to help kill off a game. Not just any game, but a pretty darned critical game. One that had we stumbled on would have seriously imperiled of our chances of simply making the next round of qualifying, let alone Brazil.

    And what did Jozy do? Not much, except for a single solitary play. In fact, he mostly hurt our efforts down the stretch. Some of his play was childish and stupid. He was given a short and simple assignment. Just do that, and at some much later time we can worry about goals.

  93. Old School says:

    Probably my favorite response thus far.

  94. Ian says:

    McBride’s biggest goal haul in Europe was 12 goals for Fulham in the 06-07 campaign with 9 coming in the League and 3 in the FA Cup. At the start of that season he was 34, not 22. He had had 12 more seasons to develop than where Jozy is at this point.

  95. T-moble says:

    How am I trolling? do you even know the definition of trolling? Again A hat trick in a very bad defending league, scored in a major tournament a few years ago, haven’t did much since. Answer this question, what have Jozy did in the last couple

  96. Weaksauce says:

    Aron Johannsson scored again today

    8 goals for the season

    Cap -tie him before Iceland Does !!!!!

  97. Vic says:

    Mat said Altidore is the best pure striker US has ever produced. My reply was to that statement.

  98. T-moble says:

    Gain more knowledge? Intelligent football conversation is not getting excited because a guy scored a goal, in a bad defending league. A intelligent soccer conversation is looking how did he score those goals, Also by watching the dutch league, way more then you, I think I have more knowledge about the league then you. Also by watching him not be able to hold up the ball and actually hurt us in an importanat game, sorry if I’m not just another USMNT fan, that gets excited without seeing it on the USMNT.

  99. Vic says:

    Question for Ives, would you start Jozy Altidore for the USMNT? If so who would you sit? You have Donovan, Dempsey assuming one plays up front, then you have Gomez. So you’d have to sit one of the three: Donovan, Gomez or Dempsey?

  100. T-moble says:

    I believe USMNT fans are the most uneducated about the game, that have no understanding what makes a great striker. So the get excited, without looking at the whole package. Look at the whole package, learn about soccer, “THEN WE” can have a Intelligent Conversation.

  101. gacm32 says:

    Haha, you have to be one of the least soccer intelligent person i’ve seen on this site, and I’ve been on it for 5 years. It’s shocking to me how far off base you are with everything you say, you’re either the greatest troll in history, or you really need to start paying closer attention to what you watch. Learn more about the game, then come back and post.

  102. THomas says:

    I tried to figure out where Jozy plays for AZ just from the highlights, but the truth is he scored once from the right, once from the left, and then once from the middle. So that alone illustrates how free flowing this AZ attack is.

    I think JK is trying to get the Nats to that point. I think he can, eventually, and I agree 100% that it will only be when the midfield catches up to the forwards in this pool. Wow, never thought I’d say that a few years ago.

  103. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    Sorry, I didn’t catch your reply to the previous comment which clarifies it for me. Thank you. BTY – been a while. Hope this finds you and yours well. Any Q&A on the horizon?

  104. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    Sorry, I didn’t catch your reply to the previous comment which clarifies it for me. Thank you. BTY – been a while. Hope this finds you and yours well. Any Q&A on the horizon?

  105. Old School says:

    “T-mobile.. we get it, your trying to make a name for yourself”

    Standing by what he feels isn’t making a name for himself…it’s standing by/being accountable for what he feels.

    Attack the opinion, don’t be lame and attack the poster.

  106. THomas says:

    That’s what we’ve been doing and the forwards get stranded. I like the above if you run it as a 4-1-2-3 (the inverted Xmas tree!!!) and have Williams or Jones sit in front of the back four in place of Torres, then have Dempsey pair up with Bradley in midfield with the outside forwards dropping back to help in defense when needed and the outside backs bombing forward as they did so well last game.

  107. Yadaki96 says:

    Spot on Ives, spot on, it’s all about having a creative midfield that can supply service to the forwards. End of story.

  108. BSB says:

    The problem is, T-moble, that you haven’t been watching his play in Holland very closely if you think he is just standing around having goals served up to him on a platter. He’s not. The offensive scheme he plays in is far more fluid, and Jozy plays a vital role in that scheme, both in the buildup and in the actual scoring.

    You also clearly think that this is easy for just about any old ya-hoo in this “bad defending league” — but that ignores the point of the article that, if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. But Jozy was one of the top scorers in this league last year and is the top scorer this year; NOT everyone is doing it.

    Carrying on about how you watch more Dutch league games than than the rest of us drooling, ignorant, highlights-only-watching typical USMNT fans, even as you offer up critiques of Jozy’s play that show that you haven’t watched more and aren’t smarter than the rest of us, does NOT count as “having an intelligent football conversation.”

  109. M says:

    doesn’t he already have 15 goals for the USMNT, most if not all before the age of 21?

  110. Nate Dollars says:

    make sure you read before you respond; i said you DON’T seem to be trolling.

    you were asking what he’s done for the usmnt, and i was telling you. the said hat trick was in world cup qualifiers (’09, i think?), not dutch league.

    and i’m not sure what point you’re trying to make about jozy not doing much recently. if you’re saying jozy’s in bad form for the usmnt right now, that’s a different argument than saying he’s just not that good.

  111. Jeff says:

    Thanks for informing us that one of Gomez’s goals was from a free kick. Thanks also for leaving out(in your article) that Altidore’s goal was from a penalty kick.

    (SBI-What Altidore goal?)

  112. FK Pirin says:

    Hi Ives,

    Good article. I wanted to see if anyone else including yourself or your staff thought that the Jamaica games were so physical, that it wasn’t really possible to generate an attacking rhythm. The match in Jamaica also had the problem of a poor passing field, it looked really bumpy and patchy. It looked designed for old school English football of punting it forward and running on to it.

    I felt that the referee allowed the Jamaican players to constantly hack down the American players and push them around. As a result, I didn’t think there were real opportunities for the US to create chances. When that kind of refereeing is combined with high pressure and the athleticism of the Jamaicans, I was not surprised that the US couldn’t get much going offensively in Jamaica. In the US I felt the referee also allowed a lot of overly physical play, and the Jamaicans played tight defensively. When they finally came out of their shell, the same thing as the game in Jamaica happened.

    I don’t think the strong attacking play will occur when you are allowed to hack down your opponents with virtual impunity. If the game had been called with a normal amount of physicality, then I think there would have been more yellow cards and possibly a red card.

    All that being said, I also think that Jozy Altidore is being shadowed and watch closer, which helps open up the game for Clint Dempsey or Gomez to score. The goal for Gomez came off a set piece, and it was kind of lucky. The Clint Dempsey goal kind of lucky because he got a good deflection. That could just as easily have been Jozy Altidore scoring.

    I suppose my main point is that Jozy Altidore will probably not be able to score goals in CONCACAF off or quick movement and passing, when CONCACAF referees allow such highly physical play without punishment. You can’t do a one two pass or build up the attack very easily when people are getting dropped to the ground just after they pass the ball. Does anyone else feel the same way or am I exaggerating the physicality and poor refereeing in that regard.

  113. dikranovich says:

    if anyone is looking for a reasonable and intelligent response to this whole situation, this is it right here. thank you bottlecaps for bringing quality to this board.

  114. jb says:

    I like the way you said it better.

  115. bryan says:

    T-moble ruined this thread for me. you don’t need to repeat your opinion a million times. most still don’t agree with you.

    i’m with Ives and agree with the article. i think his form will eventually come to the USMNT once a lineup is figured out. every game is different it seems.

    but i will say his work rate seems higher at AZ than for the USMNT. i think this is why Gomez and Dempsey get the few chances that we produce. the ball is passed to them instead of Jozy. at least recently.

  116. bryan says:

    you need to work on your reading comprehension skills…

  117. jb says:

    Agreed on the atrocious reffing in concacaf. And you’re right, it definitely limits free flowing attacks. I have never understood why US soccer doesnt make an issue of concacaf refs. Is it because US soccer is afraid of looking like whiners? And how about fan conduct at away locations? batteries, urine bags, and all that. Why doesnt US soccer stand up for itself?

  118. T-moble says:

    I have been watching his play in Holland very closely and I see the same old Jozy, that skills just fit better in the dutch league, then in the EPL or La Liga.That’s why the coach brought him to holland, his skills fit that league and the club system of play. That doesn’t mean he improved, it means his skills are more valued in the dutch league. This is how you know Jozy has improved, is his play on the national team level. When he is giving back lines problems, without even having the ball at his feet. This took Gomes awhile to dev. I want Jozy to do well, like all USMNT fans, however I need to see his improvements on the NT level, where the speed of play is higher.

  119. RLW2020 says:

    basically none of the strikers are flourishing currently, Gomez and Dempsey are working better with our backwards moving midfielders while Jozy is lighting it up with a better midfield in Holland. and @ Amy, yes the issue is Jurgen’s he kept promising a more aggressive style yet we are still playing Bradley Bunker style. Things will change a lot once Donovan is back!

  120. RLW2020 says:

    Liverpool sucks! that aside, I can see Jozy making the move to the EPL after this year. I think he will eventually be a quality EPL striker (and USNT striker) but no need to rush it..

  121. Mat says:

    Fair enough re: McBride, but I personally believe Jozy is superior because McBride was more one dimensional than Jozy. Jozy is more explosive, scores more long range efforts, is better with his feet than McBride was. I’ll concede that, given his frame and power, Jozy should be doing better in the aerial game, but he still has time to improve this. Basically, Jozy can hurt a defense in more ways than McBride could, but that’s just my opinion. Altidore seems driven and more mature now, and with his superior athletic gifts, he has all the tools to become a top striker within the next 5-6 years.

  122. #6 says:

    @ Mark

    I don’t get this “lazy” tag that keeps on coming up. Striker for any team is a really hard position especially when the team is playing in a disjointed manner. It’s a lot of running when you’re not always getting the service you were expecting.

    While it’s easy to criticize JA for his play in the occasional USMNT games we see him in, his form for club clearly shows that when he’s in a system he can trust he is far more effective then when trying to “just make something happen” playing up top by himself.

    Kudos to SBI for the article and the points it raises. Our expectations are far to high for a 22 year-old who is still probably 3-4 years away from his prime at what is arguably the hardest position to play in the entire sport (goal scorer).

  123. Mat says:

    Re: Jozy’s alleged laziness

    I don’t think it’s being lazy more than the fact that until the past couple of years, it seems clear that jozy’s physical preparation and upkeep was lacking a bit, and as a result his in game endurance and performance were inconsistent. Looking at him today he seems much sharper physically. Probably he just matured a bit; he is just a kid after all. Now he seems to know what it takes to be more consistent and he’s driven to succeed.

  124. Yusef says:

    He scored the game winning goal against Spain in the Confederations Cup as a teenager. Not like the guy is missing when clutch opportunities present themselves.

  125. FK Pirin says:

    I have asked myself the same thing, and I have an idea that this issue is taboo in CONCACAF. I think people know about, understand it, but consider it a part of the game. If you stand up as an American and say something, then I think things start to go very wrong for the USMNT and for CONCACAF champions league.

    I feel that things have gotten worse for the US ever since Chuck Glazer blew the whistle on Jack Warner. Since then Glazer has been smeared and lost his job also. I think a lot of people in CONCACAF thrive off of the corruption, and they don’t want their cash cow to disappear, so anyone who tries to take it on gets squashed, whether it is match-fixing, mismanagement of funds, bribery, etc. My biggest issue is the match-fixing aspect, which I suspect accounts for what looks like really inept refereeing. It is really hard to tell whether a CONCACAF referee is really that bad, or whether he is being paid to be that bad.

    Match-fixing happens all over the world in the US and in all different sports, but I believe that CONCACAF is probably one of the easiest places to fix a match.

  126. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’m a fan of per-game strike rates for forwards as a way of seeing which forwards produce and which do not, as well as which forwards may be underrated. Where a midfielder may offer intangibles or defense or assists, forwards are generally paid to score. So it’s fair to use this metric.

    When I apply the goals per appearances metric to Jozy for the USMNT, I come out with 13 goals in 51 games. Goal per 4 games, roughly. But Herculez is higher, 5 goals in 16 games. In other words, if he had 51 caps he’d have more than 13 goals. Landon is 49 goals in 144 games. Dempsey is even higher at 28 goals in 89 games, which is closer to 1 goal every 3 games.

    You notice which pairing bore better fruit against Jamaica? I mean, if this was baseball, we’d look at batting average…..

    In terms of AZ, he’s been doing fine for AZ for an extended period of time and has then shown up for the US unfit or ineffective. He has not scored for the Nats since November 2011. If one were being fair, one might suggest there is a difference between the rates he scores for AZ and the US — not unlike players like Carlos Costly or Chris Wondo or Taylor Twellman, who don’t produce at the same rate club vs. country — and think to myself, to be polite and sem-objective, why? Perhaps it’s that the Dutch league tends to sell its big scorers, which means the flavors of the month can emerge faster? Perhaps it’s that the Dutch league is high scoring? Perhaps it’s that Bradley scored 15 himself there a few years back?

    In terms of the critique of the table-setting suggested by the AZ-US comparison, he had Dempsey and Donovan on the wings at the last World Cup. My experience was more of a feckless forward line, not that he lacked service. I think the arguments he lacks service hide the fact he’s a sloppy player who has to be served the ball just so and given time to trap to be effective. I just think he’s found the perfect league for doing so in the Eredivisie, where defense is an afterthought.

    So, when he starts scoring for the USMNT I’ll give him his USMNT due. But AZ goals in place of US ones is bait and switch. He either scores for us or doesn’t, and the stats reflect he’s not that productive for the US.

  127. Joe Dirtee says:

    This is a very valid point.

    I’m all for a more attack minded approach or “style”. Unfortunately we reside in the physical, poorly refereed region of Concacaf, Not the Eredivise.

    Trying to get a Guatamela, Jamaica or Honduras to play a more beautiful and flowing game of soccer is nearly impossible in this region.

    I believe Klinsmann is the man for the job, but I think he is also a little naive about the physical play, poor refereeing, and poor pitches of Concacaf qualifying. It takes more grit than finesse.

    Hopefully, he can strike a balance between grit and finesse and be able to switch back to the more finesse attacking style he’s been speaking of after we qualify for the WC.

  128. Joe Dirtee says:

    Your and idoit.

    “So, when he starts scoring for the USMNT I’ll give him his USMNT due.”

    He lead our team in goals the last WC cycle, as a teenager.

    Maybe you don’t remember this because most qualifiers last cycle were played after your bed time.

  129. AL says:

    …and yet, Mexico manages to play attacking minded football in CONCACAF. The reason the US doesn’t it’s because the players don’t have the technical skills to make three passes in a row.
    You guys are full of it. Blaming the referee is just plain ignorant

  130. THomas says:

    The best part about this website and Ives is that he gives us an easy forum to express our opinions. And not only is he willing to post his opinions for us to comment on, he is willing to defend them. All keep me coming back. Even if I don’t always agree, I have to respect that.

  131. THomas says:

    I know Ruiz moved over from the Dutch league to Fulham and his class is evident, it just hasn’t translated to goals. But didn’t Suarez come from there as well? I think it’s a good, logical, proven next step for a stand-out striker.

  132. jb says:

    I figured that’s where you were heading, and I happen to agree with you 100%. After all the confirmed match-fixing over the last year, and the Glazer/Warner thing, it is a question that must be asked. Which brings me back to why hasnt US soccer dug into this? I mean, if fans watching on TV are noticing these things, you’re telling me the officials at US soccer aren’t!? And why haven’t any media dug deeper? I mean if the highest ranking concacaf officials have been convicted of bribery, is it really that much of a stretch to wonder if it is happening with the lesser officials? I really hope I’m wrong, but it would explain much.

  133. Larry says:

    You can see that the USMNT is not a priority for Jozy. Yes, strikers don’t run all the time, but you have to run sometimes or you’ll never score. Some players have success with their clubs but not with their national teams and Jozy is one of them. It’s just the way it is. JK needs to relaize this and call up someone who can produce. You don’t win a spot because of your potential.

  134. Brolo says:

    Can we please wait to analyze his play. Taking a sample of the three games he’s scored in is like saying an MLB team is going to make the playoffs after a good April.

    As a usmnt fan I want the best players playing. Is comparing him to Dempsey fair? No, but that’s why he should be playing forward; along with someone who can put the balls in the net for our team. The point is the usmnt is not a sports car but is a tractor. So we need to find people who fit that part

  135. smokeminside says:

    Not to nitpick, but it’s T-moble. I don’t think T-mobile would want to be associated with T-moble’s schtick. Ole’, T-moble’!

  136. Brolo says:

    Aside from waiting to see how he does for a larger sample, like an actual full season. Jozy reminds me of Andrew Bynum. Both guys are young but constantly are defended by people who say they are young and will improve. Considering Jozy has already been a professional for a number of years now I would argue that the sky is no longer the limit.

  137. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’m an idiot for, what, pointing out statistically his weakness? Heck, I think he produces at roughly the rates of Buddle and Bunbury, if you want to really talk turkey. He scores goals at a rate roughly a game per goal slower than Dempsey, who is roughly on par with McBride. He’s also slower-rate than a list of other US strikers who themselves play with decent teams, such as Mexican champion Santos.

    By “lead [sic] the team in goals” you mean beat up on Cuba, ES, and T&T before disappearing during the Hex and World Cup? He’s like the HS or college forward you knew who beat up on non-conference opposition, started to fade in the real games, and was absent for the state playoffs or NCAAs. Since our goal is silverware, that’s a pretty important time to have your form fade…

    He has, what, 4 goals in 2 years now THIS CYCLE? No goals in qualifying to date?

    Feel free to argue that AZ means something but don’t call me an idiot for disagreeing, the stats and facts back me up. You know, adult measures of performance as opposed to sophomoric jokes about bedtimes? That’s all you’ve got?

  138. The Imperative Voice says:

    I think the forward pool is shallow enough where Jozy should still be in the 18s and 23s and be a regular bench option, particularly against smaller teams (ES, Guatemala) or teams that like to play soft pressure defense (Italy). But a goal every four games is nothing to sniff at, just underwhelming in and of itself and in comparison to others. I just think we have better options from the 18/ 23, not that he should be dropped altogether.

    I also think part of the problem with Jozy is he is a big man who plays smaller than his size….gets pushed around more than you’d expect and wins fewer crosses for headers than you’d like…..and also lacks the sniper qualities of Dempsey and Gomez, who if given chances will put most of them on net and get their fill. I think he has physical tools and potential as you say, and even some skill, it’s a matter of fighting harder as a holding player, getting nastier, and then getting sharper in the finish.

    I will say that if he doesn’t manifest these qualities for the US, Boyd may do it for him. But performances like for AZ plus the potential plus some level of production will leave a guy his size perennially in the mix…

  139. Dave from Charlotte. says:

    +1 to Mat and OP

  140. Robinswood says:

    You’re lazy if that’s the best you can come up with. You know what kind of people say that about soccer players (and you NEVER hear it from a single person connected with a team or administration)….. guys who never had an ounce of talent, strength, or speed, and managed to play only because they left their heart out on the field….. but accomplished absolutely nothing.

  141. SuperChivo says:

    I don’t know if the best line of this article was comparing US strikers to squirrels trying desperately to get a nut or comparing the US midfield to a tractor in a world of Ferraris, but it’s great stuff. Carry on scoring, young Master Jozy.

  142. jb says:

    “The reason the US doesn’t it’s because the players don’t have the technical skills to make three passes in a row.”

    What garbage. We have the most technical players in the region, along with Mexico.

    Nobody is blaming the refs for the USA’s recent lack of attacking prowess. But if you dont think there’s something fishy about the officiating in away matches in concacaf for the USMNT and for MLS teams in concacaf champions league, then you havent been watching. The best thing I can say for the officiating in those matches is that they are inept and woefully inconsistent.

  143. Leo says:

    Players that start in some of the best leagues in the world don’t have the ability to make three passes in a row? I hope you don’t think that anyone is taking anything you have to say seriously right now.

  144. fischy says:

    Altidore is “lazy”? Is he sitting at his computer blogging about soccer in the middle of the day?
    No? Hmmmm.

  145. T-moble says:

    Did you watch the game in columbus? Well if you did, you would see Jozy unable to keep possession of the ball. I’m am 50 years old, I’ve been watching soccer for 45 years, long while you still was in your fathers nut sack.

  146. T-moble says:

    Started when My dad took me at the age of 4 to my first soccer game. So I think I know a little about soccer.

  147. jones says:

    yes, I realize this is mainly a news-type blog, but this is the kind of analysis I really appreciate. Thanks Ives.

  148. Rlw2020 says:

    Yup from Ajax. back when i followed Fulham, not too long ago, they seemed to be always looking at the up and comming Dutch league players; made it look like a feeder league to the BPL. Even after the dempsey fiasco i wouldnt be surprised to see him end up under Jol.

  149. Vic says:

    Players come in and out of form and lose/gain playing based on that. By your standards Charlie Davies should be starting for the USMNT because he used to score goals for us.

  150. Leo says:

    I don’t think defense is an afterthought in the Eredivisie so much as coaches are let go for playing a style that is defensive or “ugly”. In 2001, Ajax fired their manager for this very reason while their team occupied first place.

    Back to Jozy, though, last year was the first of his European career where he had more than 26 appearances in one year, combining club and international play. His previous high in 2010 included Confederations Cup and WC Qualifying matches. All this is to say that his 48 appearances in 2011/2012 shows that he is becoming more valuable to someone and he’s not being put on the pitch to jog lightly. The experience is clearly paying off, at least at the club level. Whether it pays off at the international level…

    My personal opinion: I don’t think it makes sense to be too dismissive with regard to his scoring ratio when he is much, much, much less experienced than Dempsey/Donovan/Gomez. This is not to say that he deserves a free pass. I think the overall point of Ives’ article was more to say Jozy’s coming along quite nicely and that his talent is starting…that’s right, just starting…to shine through.

    P.S. I chose to respond to your comment in particular because it was the most well written criticism in the comments thus far.

  151. The Imperative Voice says:

    I fail to see how having watched a player play for the Nats, and often struggle, is disqualifying of criticizing his role with the Nats. It strikes me as just the right experience to ask WTF?

    Because to me the people saying woah you have to see his AZ play to understand why he should play for the Nats are acting like this is some newfound discovery or completely marginalized player, like Starikov or Wooten or Gatt. Usually that’s the context where someone acts like you don’t understand what I’ve seen from a club player.

    Cause this is more like Wondo or Twellman or something, if they were somewhat productive but still not themselves. We’ve seen the club production before, NYRB, and seen mediocre translation of that to international play.

    Cause to me he could score a hat trick every week for AZ and the question would still be, when is that going to come across internationally. I think he had something to prove in club play because of the Spanish mess, but that doesn’t wipe away asking, ummm, where are the qualifying goals since T&T? Where was the World Cup production?

    I’m not diminishing the club production for diminishment’s sake. It does indicate a player to take note of. But the history of the Nats as well as his history suggests even good forward production at the club level must be set aside to await whether he’s turned the same corner internationally. I still say he’s maybe the 3rd or 4th best option based on strike rate and composure.

  152. FK Pirin says:

    I agree that Mexico plays well, and I enjoy watching Mexico games, however, what I have noticed is that sometimes Mexico gets the type of treatment that the US gets from referees, but most of the time I see more balanced refereeing where the Mexican players do not get chopped down without consequence. Most teams that play against Mexico will receive yellow cards and red cards for their fouls, which allows Mexico to play good attacking soccer from the beginning or in rough games at least after the first 20 to 30 minutes of hacking has stopped.

  153. Shawn says:

    Rubbish. I’m so sick of people who ‘think’ they know football calling strikers lazy for not playing like a defensive midfielder. Also, high pressure is a TEAM concept. Not a single player concept, or it’s wasted energy. Not only shouldn’t Altidore be criticized for not pressuring when the team isn’t, it would be stupid of him TO pressure in those circumstances.

    A striker has one purpose, to score goals. Altidore does that in spades when he’s utilized properly.

    And while Altidore USED to have a bad first touch, if you watch him with his club, you see that isn’t the case now. Watch the goals he scored and his assist on the 2nd AZ goal. All deft touches. Touch comes from confidence with the ball. Altidore has that now. He didn’t always. But hey, blame him for being an 18 year old striker when he was.

  154. hudson says:

    Stiffer defense is any international match is usually always going to be tougher than during a league match, making goals harder to score at that level. I haven’t seen many Eredivisie games, but judging by the clips of Jozy’s goals, defense doesn’t seem a huge focus. The clips show that when he has time and space in the box, his finishing is deadly. But he’s unlikely to get the same looks playing for the U.S. because of the nature of international games, especially when many CONCACAF opponents put 10 men behind the ball against the U.S.

    One thing Klinsmann could possibly do to better utilize Jozy’s skills during qualifying is to focus on getting him the ball early in games before play tightens up and during any counterattacks, with Donovan setting up. Bringing him in as a second half sub as in the second Jamaica game when the U.S. had gone into more of a defensive posture isn’t a good use of his talents.

  155. Shawn says:

    Gomez has no hold up play. So I don’t buy that argument. Gomez has 1 speed: straight at goal. I like him, and he’s the hot hand, so I don’t mind him playing right now.

    But ideally, he’s best in the channels playing off Altidore.

  156. The Imperative Voice says:

    What you’re not acknowledging is he insisted on vacation before the initial two qualifiers and then showed up unfit by the coach’s assessment. That cannot be totally separated from the player.

    Also, you’re neglecting that his usage may in fact reflect Klinsi having an opinion of the player close to his critics’ assessment. Klinsi has been witness to the same punchless US offense the past two years we have. Klinsi tends to outwardly express hope and the best for players, but in the four qualifiers he has started him only once, and that time we lost.

    I’d assume a former WC winning striker is sharp enough to notice these things, and I’d also assume he sees who produces regularly for us and who doesn’t.

    Last, that Gomez can score a free kick, as can Landon (and Dempsey can finish one), is hardly a strike against them. To me it reflects a level of skill and finishing as well as a varied usefulness to the team. In comparison, Jozy is a crude instrument with the Nats. I should discount the others because he’s too sloppy to handle a free kick or penalty?

  157. BSB says:

    If you look at Jozy on AZ and see only the same Jozy as (briefly) on Villareal 2 years ago, who is the same as the Jozy on Hull 3 years ago, who is the same as the Jozy in MLS before that, then you are not looking very closely, or are looking only with a jaundiced eye. Jozy is visibly improved in his movement, touch, and passing from earlier in his career.

  158. GW says:

    I never saw McBride with Fulham but I saw a lot of him with the US. For the most part the US had a better concept of how to use McBride than they ever did with Jozy. And he certainly got better service.

    The age difference is very important because Bake was much more mature and savvy about his strengths and weaknesses. But of course he was older and more experienced by that point.

    Jozy has a chance, statistically, to completely obliterate Bake’s accomplishments before he is done. And I think McBride would be the first to tell you that.

  159. GW says:

    He already has “doen something on the International stage”.

    He had a great Confederations Cup, had a very good World Cup and had he not gotten injured, in the Gold Cup maybe the US does not get blown out by Mexico in the final.

    And that doesn’t even include the work he has done in World Cup qualifying.

  160. Zing! says:

    Isn’t the bottom line that for all the talk about implementing a new attack oriented system, the US still plays a very lackluster system that generates few chances for their forwards, who generally don’t finish the few they get? Not saying they should be nailing 8 out of 10 chances, but frequently the difference in games against the best teams, the US misses their chances, while the opposing teams have ruthless finishers. Gomez, Dempsey, Wondo, Jozy these guys all have their skills, but you can’t call any of them ruthless finishers. Wondo is prob the closest to that, but he lacks the size/speed required on the international level to give himself the extra bit of space needed to do so. Jozy has come a long way in his game, and hopefully continues to grow into the player we ALL want him to be for both club and country.

  161. GW says:

    “Also, the league thing. Although MLS arguably has better defense all-around”

    So do you think RSL for example, could stop AZ’s attack?

  162. Apples and Oranges says:

    Michael Bradley scored 18 goals in the Eredvisie in 07/08. That performance got him into a vastly better league, and in the four full seasons since he has scored a total of 12 goals. That his in no way intended as an insult to Bradley, who is a vastly better player now than he was then and has a good chance of becoming our best player.

    Josy is having a great year, but rather than arguing that the national team should cater to his strengths you should be hoping that this performance is enough to get him regular playing time in a better league next season.

    And the comparison with Wondolowski that you so readily dismiss is not that far off the mark. According to FIFA rankings the Eredivisie is the 9th best league in Europe, which may seem impressive but there is arguably a considerable drop-off after the Russian Premier League at #7. After that it’s the Ukrainian league, the Eredivisie, and then Greece at #10. The better MLS teams would have absolutely no problem competing in the Greek league, and I suspect the gap between the Eredivisie and MLS is rapidly vanishing.

  163. sir coble says:

    I can see both points. First, that is a great article articulating the surface of both systems and what a striker does to succeed in either. Secondly as far as the lazy argument is concerned the problem for a USMNT fan is that we’ve seen Altidore with fire in his belly and he looks unstoppable in those games. His game after Charlie Davies accident was inspiring. As well after Haiti’s earthquake a few years back he gave all, and defenses had no idea what to do with him. In those games I think Jozy raised his own bar of effort. It is easy for USMNT fans to jump on the wagon of someone who gives all. Gomez is an excellent example…and I believe Jones is growing a fan base on his effort much like MB did over the last 1/2 decade. Jozy does a lot off the ball in our system, but I personally like it when he gives all for 60 minutes!

  164. GW says:

    That is the fan in you speaking.

    I doubt the people who buy goalscorers share your view. They are more interested in great scorers not scorers of great goals. Of course, if you can get both in one player it is always better.

    To paraphrase what DMB once said, ” They don’t care HOW, they care HOW MANY.”

  165. JW says:

    link to You can turn the music off… but damn that’s a fine striker. Any country. He just needs a midfield that is willing to exploit the space he creates with his movement up front… I just hope Bradley/Mix/Corona/Zusi/SOMEONEFORTHELOVEOFGOD manages to fill that creative, advancing, central mid role before it’s too late for qualifying or… festivus (no jinxing).

  166. BSB says:

    It was my understanding that AZ wanted Jozy to accompany the team on its goodwill trip to the Caribbean — I see their point, since Jozy is a prominent member of the team with Caribbean roots. Naturally, there were those who saw it as further evidence of Altidore’s “laziness” — he chose to “vacation” in the Caribbean instead of joining the national team.

  167. The Imperative Voice says:

    5 games into the Eredivisie season and 3 teams have 15 or more GF, while 6 teams have 10 or more GA. On a 34 game MLS season, that would mean 3 teams in the neighborhood of 100 GF, and 6 teams near 70 GA.

    Lest people act like I’m spouting science fiction, Ajax had 90+ GF last season and Willem II had 90+ GA the year before that. In a season equal to MLS’ length!!! Average teams are routinely in the 1.5-2 GF/game range. A MLS team scoring at that rate would be near the league lead.

    It’s fast break soccer in cool weather. Altidore is clearly not useless but the whole exercise must be discounted for reality. Why can’t it be that Jozy has found a league more suited to his talents? I just can’t believe AZ is seeing something everyone else missed. Instead, I think he found a league where the softer defense hides his flaws, and the style of play gives him plenty of chances, which he can still fritter a bit and come out ahead.

    So to me the risk is that you buy into some non-transferable Eredivisieness, when what we need is more of a McBride, who could be sent just about anywhere and prosper. It’s like people are sweeping Hull, Villareal, etc. under the rug like they never happened.

    But can you imagine if Deuce played in Holland? I think he’d have 30.

    Last, I personally fear that Jozy simply does not have a body type for the work rate and precision necessary. People forget what great athletes Landon and Deuce are. Speed, endurance, etc. Plus touch. Jozy in contrast has a big body he hasn’t quite learned to use consistently yet, and somewhat stony feet. Maybe if he really really worked on fitness, but I wonder if he’s just too big a body to be that great an international. Emile Heskey would be harsh, but in present shape he’s a big man who yet doesn’t play like even a McBride as a target. I’d love to see more “Italy-style” setups. Either get nasty and use his size, or get skinnier and more technical like Boyd. But to me he’s a tweener.

  168. GW says:

    That about sums it up. Excellent job bottlcaps.

    One thing I am curious about is how Jozy’s increasing importance to AZ will affect his availability for the USMNT.

    To say Verbeek has a dim view of JK is putting it mildly.

  169. sir coble says:

    I believe Gomez was doing this for a while until Dallas? moved him to and outside winger position instead of striker. Once in Mexico(at a striker position) he started banging in goals mostly as a sub eventually tying for the golden boot.

  170. Getrealtime19 says:

    Yeah I watched what Jozy was tying to do, he was 2 steps ahead of everyone else in his attacking mindset. I don’t remember who it was, but when Jozy laid off that back heel if whoever was on the wing had kept their run going it would of been a great pass. People can hate on him all they want, dude is 22 and leading a well respected league in goals. His play drowns it your weak and callous criticisms. Put two players up top that will run with him. Do not know why we can’t, we have how many d-mids behind hm.

  171. Andrew says:

    We don’t need to make THOSE passes, per se. But we need to play midfielders who can push forward and combine with Altidore. It sometimes seems like almost every Altidore highlight from AZ involves a one-two, and we’re not giving him anyone to combine with.

    I think it’s mostly symptomatic of Klinsmann’s insistence on playing defensive-minded outside mids. Jose Francisco Torres is a deep-lying playmaker, not a winger. Danny Williams and Jermaine Jones are defensive midfielders, not wingers. If I wanted to be really cynical, I’d suspect that Klinsmann is just trying to get his German-Americans on the field even if he has to play them out of position. (Then again, it doesn’t explain why Klinsmann prefers Beckerman in the exact role that most of the German-Americans recruits play for their clubs.)

  172. TerkyJerky says:

    AZ would be like Barca in the MLS. Not because the MLS defense is weaker then in the Dutch league but because MLS offense is more inept. Even top tier offensive team like Ajax and PSV (who just put 5 goals on AZ) has a hard time getting possession from AZ.

  173. Pete says:

    We win or draw in France if its Edu and not Beckerman, and Jozy might have been the best player on the pitch. Jozy gets one service around the 18 in the Italy game, and he creates an assist. Our best line up midfield to fwd is


  174. This Guy says:

    Until Altidore puts his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, he should not wear the US jersey. He can protest America’s response to a Haitian crisis any other time by not showing respect but while wearing the USMNT uniform.

  175. GW says:

    Jozy is paid by AZ. His first allegiance is to AZ. His USMNT play is a part time volunteer gig.

    Jozy is a much better player for AZ than he was when he got there. So he has improved as a soccer player in the last two years or however long it was.

    The USMNT is his part time gig, different coach, and different players. Odds are his performances for them will get better but then again it may not happen because those who build national teams have far less flexibility than those who build club teams.

    So it is possible, though unlikely, that the US will never have a squad that can take advantage of Jozy’s skills no matter how good he becomes. There is plenty of precedent for that. Messi and Argentina have only recently really started to mesh as one extreme example.

  176. BSB says:

    He did not “insist on vacation” before the first two qualifiers. His club insisted on him accompanying them on a goodwill trip to the Caribbean (he is a prominent player for AZ, and he has Caribbean roots, so it makes sense that they would want him to go along). As a young player, he was not really in a position to tell them no. It’s unfortunate and may reflect a lack of proper communication and compromise between Klinsmann and Verbeek, but it is silly to characterize it as Jozy insisting on vacation because he couldn’t be bothered to answer the call in a timely fashion.

  177. Skywardo says:

    I must agree. Jozy can do the 1-2 and dash towards the goal as well as anyone. What I see Herc doing better is working his A*s off and going for the goal more often. Simply put, Herc is a better forward at this moment in time than Jozy with the Nats, and Boyd isn’t far behind.

  178. kevdflb says:

    While I agree with most of your points, using the initials BPL makes me wonder if you have any idea what you are talking about.

  179. Shawn says:

    Professional fouls merit yellow in any league, regardless of physicality. Intent and cynicism measure into the foul as well.

    MLS officials keep thinking they need to compare our game against the NFL.

  180. Shawn says:

    I found that comment laughable as well. Dutch defenses only look worse because they play against far superior attacking talent.

    MLS defenses may be more physical, but they’re not more competent.

  181. Shawn says:


    Get over it. He’s not the only one who doesn’t do the ‘salute.’ Frankly I’d rather they didn’t play national anthems at sporting events.

  182. Eurosnob says:

    Yep, he led the USMNT in scoring in the WC qualifying with all, but one goal, scored in the hexagonal.

  183. Spank says:

    Would you happen to have a link to these FIFA league rankings? I’ve been looking for them everywhere and i can’t find anything.

  184. bottlcaps says:

    You must remember that aside from the specified FIFA dates, clubs have no obligation to release players to their respective national teams for camps and “friendly” games even in the off-season. They are under contract for the year, not the season.

    In AZ’s case, Verbeek made a decision that Altidore’s growth as a footballer for his club team would benefit more with various team building exercises as well as relaxation during their Caribbean “vacation” As a result, Altidore fell behind in his fitness level for USMNT duty and, more importantly, his practice and synchronization with various USMNT teammates new and old. It worked well for AZ though as his practice, intensity and, more importantly, his focus improved through his more relaxed “off-season”

    European team managers have a love/hate relationship with the various national teams in SA and now Central and North America. While exemplary performance may raise the stature (and value) of their player(s), they are also wary of their players coming back injured and hurt from international play. Most managers who have players that are particularly valuable refuse to release players on “soft” FIFA dates. Even if players do come back safe, the long flights and jet lag will mean they may not play a game close to an international fixture. A tired player,, is a player more easily hurt.

    There is no doubt as Jozy becomes better on his team, his release for friendlies outside of the hard FIFA dates will decline or be refused altogether. This makes Klinsmann job a bit harder as he “looses” a day for transit to/from the US from Europe. not only for Jozy but for all the other Euro Players.

    Expect Klinsmann to schedule more friendlies in Europe to gain an additional day or two of precious practice time.

    Either way, I would like to have a great player let out for specific friendlies than an average player let out for all games.

  185. thereal_shaunr says:

    This is hilarious T-moble posting as Get serious to have someone agree with him. Its obvious you like Gomez T-moble and thats fine but dont make yourself look stupid to defend him. They can both be good its ok. Also in the second Jamaica game Jozy came looking to make things happen, same with first. When the ball finally found him in the first game he was looking for a pass to setup a play, in the second it was the same we just didnt need it at the time. I think the fact that AZ is very creative in attack hurts Jozy with the USMNT, he is looking for passes and runs that his team mates are not and it can kill the attack but how can you blame him for trying to make things happen.

  186. Old School says:

    “T-moble ruined this thread for me. you don’t need to repeat your opinion a million times. most still don’t agree with you.”

    He was being accountable.

    Why do people feel the need to repeat the same response to him ” a million times “?

    Both are ridiculous at a point..but everyone’s opinion (regardless if they’ve already been typed) is too important not to post.

    You can fault his opinion but at least he stood by it…regardless if you agree with the validity in it.

  187. CroCajun says:

    3 games, plus all of last season. That’s a decent sample size.

    And tractors don’t win World Cups.

  188. Old School says:

    “Your and idoit.

    “So, when he starts scoring for the USMNT I’ll give him his USMNT due.”

    He lead our team in goals the last WC cycle, as a teenager.

    Maybe you don’t remember this because most qualifiers last cycle were played after your bed time.”

    These type of responses are ridiculous.

    Here’s my ridiculous response in kind: eat glass.

  189. Old School says:


    Diversity of opinion is what makes this website awesome.

  190. Old School says:

    “I also think part of the problem with Jozy is he is a big man who plays smaller than his size….gets pushed around more than you’d expect and wins fewer crosses for headers than you’d like.”

    I think a lot of people ignore this based on perception. He looks big but doesn’t always play big.

    Not to say he’s a Kenny Cooper but, in my personal opinion, Jozy needs to add muscle to his lower body.

    He’s all shoulders but he has always struck me as having a small base.

  191. Old School says:

    You’d rather stadiums not play national anthems…for national teams…with players representing their nation….while supporters from that nation are there to support out of pride?


    I’m going to assume you were joking. That’s the worst idea in this entire thread.

  192. CroCajun says:

    To continue to claim that this player has “no touch”, “no ball skills”, “laziness”, or “just puts away sitters in a league with no defense” is to completely ignore his performances last season and so far this season. It takes an absurd amount of audacity and ignorance of the substantial amount of video evidence.

    Jozy is not a counterattacking forward. He’s not a power header. He’s not going to run his balls off for 90 minutes. That’s not who he is, but that does not make him a bad player. Not at all.

    He likes to touch the ball, play 1-2 passes in tight windows, and make runs off those passes.

    Jozy is the only player outside of Deuce in our pool that can consistently create a goal on his own.

    Jozy has a howitzer of a shot and is playing with lots of confidence.

    Last weekend Jozy scored two goals with his weaker foot from tough angles. He played some highly technical cheeky passes that created opportunities, and displayed wonderful touch that led to his second goal.

  193. beachbum says:

    well said Ives, thank you. Jozy’s making statements, going off. Needs to stay healthy and ride this wave he’s on big

    On the USMNT Landon will help much. Need another attacking option too for that right side, maybe Zusi, maybe others, maybe it depends on matchups, but it seems there are better options than putting Williams out there late right flank; just need more of a 2 way player., more width and bite going forward and the ability to supply quality service from out there

    speaking of the wings/flanks, if Torres starts where he’s been playing, then Shea or somebody really could change the game 2nd half by bringing true flank qualities IF that player can enter and truly bring those attacking qualities effectively, the Heather O’Reilly role

    I’d start the O’Reilly player and bring el Gringo 2nd half instead of the other way around after seeing Torres play in that role, but that’s me, but I think I see what Klinsmann is wanting to do. Maybe we can. we’ll see, but need those attacking width players to do it, step up, be sharp when the opportunity provides attack and bold and decisive in those moments

  194. jlm says:

    amen sucka

  195. GW says:

    Jozy elicits “so much argument within his own fan base.” because the US has very few other players worth arguing about.

    If Jozy were African, or from just about any European or South American nation his performance would be noted and praised then the media would move on to the next thing.

    The USMNT fan base is fanatically dying for, a real live star outfield player, especially an attacking one. The fact that Jozy is flawed elicits outrage from this fan base.
    Stupid and unrealistic, yes, but that is where the fan base is right now.

    Part of it is envy. The Mexicans have Chicharito, now we get Jozy. Of course Chicharito gets to play in the Champions league and star for Man U (maybe not so much lately but still) and is far bigger deal. However, if you look carefully there are a lot of people who talk about Hernandez’s lack of skill and his limited abilities.

    Still he is playing at Man U and the Champions league while all we can manage is the lowly, defense poor Eredivise and the Europa league. Hell, our other great hope had to go thru all kinds of transfer hell, being ignored by all the big clubs until Spurs snapped him up at the last second, just to get a near sniff of the possibility of the champion’s league. It’s ironic that the one American outfield player best placed to play in the Champions League, if he can win playing time, is the much maligned Gooch.

    Of course before Chicharito, Mexico had guys like Rafa Marquez and Hugo Sanchez succeed at the highest levels.

    Fair or not, Jozy is carry the burden as the great hope of the US soccer nation. I hope he talks with Landon.

  196. T-moble says:

    BPL stands for Barclays Premier League.

  197. GW says:


    Your version of JK’s state of mind re Jozy may be true or not.

    Probably not since JK wouldn’t bother to keep trying to call him in if he had as low an opinion of him as you do. For example, JK has been very gracious and diplomatic in what he has said about Sacha but it’s pretty clear he will cap you before he caps Sacha again.

    JK has made it pretty clear this is a long term project but still the USMNT has very little time and space to waste on players who aren’t sooner or later going to make an important contribution.

    It is also possible that JK realizes the current set up he has isn’t exactly what Jozy has been getting used to at AZ and finds Boyd and Gomez more suited to what is currently happening. Talk about blunt instruments.

    There is only one proven creative attacking fulcrum for this current group and that is Donovan who has been MIA. In the short term (i.e. for the hexagonal if we can get there) they need to get Donovan, Jozy and Dempsey, their best attacking players, working together.

  198. AC says:

    Simply put, Jozy is only 22 years old. NOT BAD FOR SOMEONE WHO IS ONLY 22!!!!….I think once some people get a sniff of potential, they immediately want more….Can Jozy develop more, YES….Is he developing more, YES….From comparison of his movement off the ball to about a year or 2 ago, definitely much better as most of his goals this season are from his constant movement off the ball. Not every game is going to be perfect, as no player’s ever is. Seven goals in 5 games. Think how many strikers in any league would love to have that.

    Also, at the national level, remember, he is ONLY 22….Give the guy a break for not being fantastic every game. He’s had his moments. Remember, the national team isn’t together all year. And in the games where too many defensive midfielders are on the field or out of position. Target forwards NEED SERVICE! Gomez is a second forward who is supposed to drift while Jozy takes the hits. If you recall, the did had some great hold up play in the World Cup. THE WORLD CUP MIND YOU. His header to Bradley against Slovenia was spot on. His goal against Spain in the Confederations Cup was great as well. Unfortunately, many people who see this are starving for more, and forget that he’s is only 22! How many times do they have to be reminded? They think because he doesn’t score goals every single game, he’s a bust. Well now he’s scoring goals and they want more. Talk about not being able to critique. What gets me is when they say they saw a game and he didn’t play well. Yes, I’ve seen that as well. But like mentioned, all strikers have off games at times. He’s playing well in the majority of his games….

    Reminds me of the Michael Bradley haters who forget how young players are and are still developing. Hmmmm, let me see, oh wait, Michael is playing for AS Roma now, and is a central piece of the national team.

    Okay, said my piece….

  199. beachbum says:


  200. GW says:

    You are trying to make a case that Herc is more useful to the US because he has a better goals per game stat? Okay but the goals per game stat is useful only to a point.

    It works much better to evaluate club performance. Why?

    That nagging little thing called friendlies.

    Three out of Herc’s five goals came in friendlies; that is 60%

    Four out of Jozy’s thirteen goals came in friendlies; that is about 31%

    By this measurement, Jozy is better when it matters (WC Qualifying, Gold Cup, Confed Cup ).

    Why you worry about finding ways to rate Herc as better than Jozy strikes me as a waste of time.

    They should play together. Gomez is a great compliment to Jozy.

    I wonder if anyone here saw Jozy play in the World Cup, where even though he did not score, he led the line wonderfully and took, along with Clint, a fantastic beating up front all four games. Jozy, Clint and Donovan were all integral parts of that immortal Algeria goal and they remain the US’ best proven attacking players.

  201. beachbum says:

    he was a tank at the WC when teams fouled the USMNT hard and often and particularly Jozy, and he would have been credited with winning the free kick victory goal by Edu vs. Slovenia if not for the ref shenanigans on that play, and remember Algeria at the death?

  202. GW says:

    I don’t know if FIFA has global rankings for leagues but Ggoogle “UEFA coefficient” for the European league rankings.

  203. beachbum says:

    “Nor can you judge by watching his club play in a horrible defending league, that he is improving. Only by his USMNT can we tell if he is improving.”

    Disagree, particularly considering the teams and tactics the USMNT has been deploying, and the absolutism of your claim is comedy

  204. beachbum says:

    agreed Tony, and I am


  205. PD says:

    just shut up. it’s like criticizing a wide receiver for not catching every pass that comes their way or a slugger not making contact with every pitch that goes over the play.

    unrealistic and unreasonable.

  206. beachbum says:

    “Jozy is always going to be the same player”

    you claim to be a 45 year connoisseur of the beautiful game then make a claim like that re. a 22 year old?

    sometimes experience brings insight and wisdom, sometimes not

  207. PD says:

    This rant was quite unique for SBI, but well called for.

    It really is that simple.

  208. beachbum says:

    still not making sense here…your reply is not what TomG was talking about. typical

  209. GW says:

    A & O,

    Since MB90 left Holland he has not been deployed the same way Heerenveen deployed him. He remains just about our best option in terms of trailing the play and coming in late to score (something he did a lot in Holland) but it does not happen anywhere near as often as it used to in Holland for Mikey.

    So I’m not sure comparing him and Jozy makes a lot of sense.

    As for the “gap”, it is always difficult to compare leagues, especially leagues whose teams never play each other in competitive games when both sides are in mid-season form. The Champions league and the Europa league are good for that but MLS plays in such vastly different circumstances that it is hard to get a really accurate read on comparative strength.

    Roger Espinoza for example, while he is a Honduran international ( though he is an American citizen), moved to Denver at the age of 12 and then played at Ohio State and became a generation Adidas player. His “ soccer path” was as about as “American” and “MLS” as a player can get. And now he is apparently being courted by Wigan. And he is not the only one. So of course MLS developed players are getting better all the time.

    Obviously, there is no question that many MLS players are capable of doing very well in Europe. In my view it is mostly a question of finding a club where they fit in well.

  210. Sabella says:

    A well written article and spot on. To me, fairly obvious. It’s been hard to understand the criticism.

  211. Michael Stypulkoski says:

    There’s no reason to bring Dave Matthews Band into this.

  212. Leo says:

    I’m not disputing the past statistics as you’ve presented them; my point is more “hold off on extrapolating future results based on past performance” due to the fact that 1) the Eredivisie is a great place to learn offensive fundamentals (his hold up play, touch and mid range shooting have improved greatly over the past year) and 2) He played nearly as much last year as he had the three previous seasons combined.

    Do I know what Jozy will do in the future? No one does. I think an honest person would say that his progress is more promising now than at any other point in his career. Hopefully in four years that will yield dividends for the Nats.

  213. Joamiq says:

    Don’t understand this comment at all. Jozy already has done this for an actual full season – last season. And Andrew Bynum has already improved – he is by general consensus the second best center in the league right now. That’s not to say that he or Jozy are finished products, but both are already good.

  214. BB says:

    America to Jozy: What have you done for me lately?

  215. Dennis says:

    I guess you would have said Wondo was never going to be much of a player when he was 25? Despite what a lot of fans think, most players work hard to improve and generally they do. Of course physical talents can limit that improvement and injuries can provide setback after setback and erode physical gifts. If Wondo could go from being at best a middle of the pack player for Houston to the guy leading the league over the last 3 seasons in goals scored, Altidore who is clearly more physically gifted, can improve as well. (Not to bash Wondo’s athleticism, he ran a 4:15 mile in HS and was starting 2nd baseman for a PONY league World Series Championship team.)

  216. GW says:

    Ask Eric Lichaj what he thinks of Heskey.

    You don’t stay around as long as Heskey has if you don’t have something.

  217. Oh please says:

    Four words: Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo.

  218. if you're basing it on Jamaica says:

    Yeah well all you established with that nugget of information is that you’ve been a piss poor observer of soccer for over 30 years…

  219. PD says:

    This makes no sense whatever. Please stop talking.

  220. Nate Dollars says:

    couldn’t have said it better myself…i saw the headline and was expecting half the column to be about coffee and fantasy baseball. this was great.

  221. T-moble says:

    I find the US soccer fans to lack soccer knowledge, and if you’re basing it on Jamaica you are one of them

  222. kevin says:

    he said has not had, and hes right

  223. The Imperative Voice says:

    He’s gracious about most everyone, even Chandler.

    He just simply doesn’t call in the ones he cares for less, and doesn’t play as much the ones he doesn’t think are as good as his starters.

    Since he’s nice and polite I judge him by his actions. His actions are fewer and fewer starts for Jozy.

    If you read my posts overall you’d see that I think he deserves a spot in the 18/23 just not to start. I think he’s the 3rd or 4th best US option and AZ doesn’t change that.

  224. kevin says:

    Altidore was great in the France game, very impressive

  225. kevin says:

    All u say T-Mobile is the Dutch league is a horrible defending league, but its not like hes NOT scoring goals, what do u want him to do? not score goals and make the league better at defensive bc he’s not scoring? hes still scoring and at a fantastic rate

  226. The Imperative Voice says:

    To which I’d respond, Jozy did quite well playing on the wing sometimes for NYRB. People who’ve played the wing could tell you there’s often more space there to trap and operate. There is an argument to be made that he is not so much growing as finding a more suitable niche in Holland.

    In comparison, I’m looking at the Boyd kid who can already do bikes and backheel assists in games and such, and has a pretty big body too.

    I think we already have some talented people in camp and therefore I think the onus is on Jozy to show why he is relevant while with the USA. I think playing for AZ is a better environment to shine than sitting for Hull or Villareal, but to me there is a fool me twice risk to buying he’s turned the corner and not just found a suitable home.

    Last, I’m amused people are saying he needs to move to a new team based on this production. Shouldn’t he stay where he finally produces?

  227. The Imperative Voice says:

    Heskey is not entirely awful but there are gradations in terms of the value of target players.

    Mr. Em is criticized in England for some of the same skill limitations Jozy is.

  228. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’d like to see him (a) play stronger and (b) get a little nasty. Can someone show him tape of Shaq throwing his body around? He bodies people around less than guys I played in college.

  229. DC Josh says:

    Ever since Jozy transferred to Hull, his game began to improve. Several years later, he is in incredible form… at 22 years old. He still has much to improve, and will do so. His potential is sky high. He could become a world class striker.

    At worst, he will be our best striker since McBride. At best, he could become the next Drogba.

  230. Ashley Watson says:

    Until USMNT learn to cure their addiction to excessive reliance on defensive midfield play and move to a more balanced midfield that actually give healthy service on CONSISTENT basis, we can’t criticize the strikers like that. If USMNT have the right type of midfield formation to provide the consistent service and any striker can’t produce results after few games of respectable service, then by all means, we can pull our guns out and criticize the hell of those strikers.

  231. GW says:

    If Heskey were an American he would have been a star and he might still be starting, if JK wanted a classic target man.

    As with Jozy the criticism of Heskey was way overblown as is the comparison.

    The biggest similarity between the two is they are both black and ferociously criticized.

    Jozy is a better scorer. Heskey is/was far more skilled at being a target man.

  232. GW says:

    Watch the 2010 World Cup if you want to see Jozy play “ physical”. Or maybe I should say watch the beating that he and Dempsey take.
    Jozy may be big compared to everyone’s idea of what a soccer player is supposed to be but it’s not as if he is as strong and athletic as tight ends like Gronkowski or Heath Miller.

    If you think the guys in Europe and the World Cup are intimidated by big guys trying to throw their weight around you are in for a disappointment.

    You really ought to look at some of the guys he played against in the World Cup and in Europe. It’s not as if everyone he plays against is easily impressed by size and strength. Certainly not the guys from Ghana.

  233. GW says:

    The US back four is porous, leaky, shaky.

    Cameron’s recent emergence is good but he is still raw. The backfield remains slow, and the level of teamwork leaves much to be desired.

    As long as that remains true the US midfield will have to be unbalanced to compensate.

    Which of course means the US attack will be compromised.

    The US misses Donovan not just for his attacking skills but because he links up with the defense so well. Assuming he comes back fulltime (and of course MB90) things will get better.

    But the team needs either a better Boca or a new one.

  234. Dawwilly says:

    I would agree that the Sacha from 2 years ago had issues, but this guy just went 90 minutes in the Champions League against AC Milan. AC Milan is not the team it was last year or before, but the top flight of European soccer is still the top flight. As for your comparison with international and club level, the latter is clearly faster and better. International soccer with the exception of Spain has not evolved in quality or skill. Brazil is evidence of that – tons of talent and can’t get it done when it counts. Altidore plays fantastically off the ball. Watch is club games. The US has zero offensive organization or an established philosophy. This has been true for the last 10 years. It is why watching some U.S. games is such a painful experience, because the one off individual heroics aside and the defensive grit there are only few examples of sustained, quality offensive play and flow. The confederations cup under Bradley is the last evidence of that. The Mexico win was on grit and great goal keeping, which is something the U.S. has been fortunate to have an abundance of. Until U.S. soccer learns to teach the game of having its midfielders and defensive players comfortable with the ball at your feet, guys like Altidore will never be appreciated. You clowns that call him lazy probably can’t run a mile in under 8 minutes.

  235. Dawwilly says:

    That’s all you saw. You not really watching with detail you suggest. The U.S. was awful against Jamaica, and the fielded a terrible lineup. You can’t put three defensive mids in the center of the park and expect to have a fluid attack. Jones and Edu don’t work well together as deep lying mids. That has been shown at least a half dozen times. Both are not good distributors of ball and are prone to poor passes. So if two key facilitators can’t link the defense to the offense, what does it matter if Jozy is doing hand stands, somersaults, or chasing the goal keeper, as if the man stole is wallet. Jozy’s assist in the last AZ game is evidence of his ability to make a nice first touch, move with out the ball, read the defense, and work with his competent passing teammates on creating a scoring chance. That was nice soccer to watch. The U.S. versus Jamaica in Jamaica was bleach in eyes.