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Altidore goes wild with hat trick and assist
by Paul Kennedy, September 16th, 2012 4:51PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, men's national team, netherlands


[AMERICANS ABROAD] Following two largely invisible performances for the USA in its two World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Jamaica, it was fair to ask, what's wrong with Jozy Altidore? Well, the answer is nothing at all, judging by his remarkable performance on Sunday for Dutch club AZ -- three very well-taken goals and an assist in just over an hour in its 4-0 win over Roda JC.

Altidore scored his first and third goals with his left foot after breaking free by playing one-twos with teammates. He broke behind the Roda backline to chest the ball down and score on a volley with his right foot for his second goal. He set up teammate Erik Falkenburg for the other AZ goal.

Altidore has seven of AZ's 10 goals in five games, three more than any other player in the Eredivisie.

More important, the win was AZ's first in almost a month. After opening with a 2-2 tie at defending champion Ajax and 3-1 win over Heracles, AZ tie Heerenveen, 0-0, at home and fell at PSV, 5-1. It also was knocked out of the Europa League with a pair of losses to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.

  1. Kevin Sims
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 8:09 a.m.
    Visible to invisible ... begs the question as to what is different for Jozy in the two soccer environments. Purely recognizing the quality of defending in international matches seems insufficient. I have been struck by how much Jozy struggles to hold the ball in US matches despite his size and seeming strength. I notice on his AZ video clips how quickly support surrounds him and how well he lays off the ball quickly ... yet often with the US he is a bit stranded and loses possession while awaiting that surrounding support. Me thinks this is significant.

  1. Bill Morrison
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 8:40 a.m.
    I've noticed that too. He is not a player to hold the ball and take opposing defenders on; he lays the ball off quickly and gets in position to have a strike on goal. Every one of his hat-trick goals was like this - getting open or isolated one-on-one with the keeper - even the off-target shot that was an assist for his team mate. That is his strength; combination play and using his speed to get open.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 9:40 a.m.
    Which is exactly how AZ plays. They pass the ball, they hold the ball, the move with and without it, they attack in numbers when needed and with speed when needed. The US national team under Klinsmann does none of these things. I seriously doubt that the qualify of Jamaica or Antigua defending is superior to that of Roda or Ajax.

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 9:53 a.m.
    This comments section should have a "like-not like" feature. All three previous comments hit the target; this is why soccer is for me, the ultimate team game.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 9:58 a.m.
    One and two touch passes and movement, attacking as unit,give and goes and everyone on the same page.Jozy seems so comfortable with AZ.But I did notice how much space and time he had with the ball.That does not seem to happen with the US Nats.I think it has to do with him being isolated whenever he receives the ball and cannot hold it long enough to wait for help.Until there are players who can link up with Jozy,he will be the square peg.

  1. John Hooper
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 1:01 p.m.
    I feelt this way about several players who do much better with their clubs than they do with the US. Just think how consistent Dempsey has been in the Premier League compared to how frustrating he can be in the national team. Jermaine Jones is a similar case. He plays week-in, week-out with Schalke and is considered a dominant midfielder. Why can't he show that consistently against CONCACAF teams, who aren't as good as Bundesliga clubs? I don't know the answer to his, but it really bothers me.

  1. Aris Protopapadakis
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 4:13 p.m.
    Not hard to see why he doesn't do as well with the national team. The U.S. team doesn't pass fast enough and doesn't think fast enough, and the passes are often to no one in particular. Jozy's play is remarkable; he is playing like he understands soccer. The situation (not the level of play) reminds me of Messi receiving criticism in the past for not playing that well for Argentina. The team they had was much inferior to Barca (seems to be getting better now).

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 5:33 p.m.
    Here's an off the wall question -- Is it significant that in all of the goals, it seemed that JA was receiving the ball on eiither side of the goal, not in front of it? Also, my mental picture of JA is with his back to goal and always trying to lay it off. In this video he always received the balls while facing goal !!! Agree that MNT passing is a part of theproblem.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 10:18 p.m.
    Soccer is an easy and simple game, altidore shows that it can be possible for the US players to play the beautiful game.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: September 20, 2012 at 9:28 a.m.
    After reading all of the criticisms of Altidore recently what a breath of fresh air to read all of these comments that hit the nail on the head. Altidore does not get this kind of service on the national team. Two of these three goals were off give and goes. Do you ever see him get the return pass on the national team. Klinsmann needs to be looking at these replays and incorporating what this club team is doing into the national team. Altidore, the way he is playing on his club should clearly be starting for the national team. They need to figure out how to get him the ball like his club team does. He needs to develop better movement, quicker thinking, and he quite frankly needs to develop more confidence in himself on the national team. As one of the commenters said these CONCACAF defenders can't be better than the competition guys like Dempsey and Altidore face in Europe.

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