[USA MEN]Despite no goals in 21 games for Sunderland and the USA in 2014 and a 27-game scoring drought with the two teams that dates back six months, Jozy Altidore says he has not lost his confidence.
''Everybody is so worried about my confidence," he told reporters after Sunday's 2-1 win over Turkey. "It's unbelievable. My confidence is fine, my man. It's not going to change whether I score a hat trick or I don't score at all.''
U.S. Forwards (2014):
19/9 Clint Dempsey
Seattle Sounders 9/8, Fulham: 7/0, USA: 3-1.
26/9 Aron Johannsson
AZ: 24/8, USA: 2/1.
16/8 Chris Wondolowski
San Jose Earthquakes: 11/5, USA: 3-3.
21/0 Jozy Altidore
Sunderland: 18/0, USA: 3/0
12/8 Terrence Boyd
Rapid Vienna: 12/8, USA: 0/0.
13/3 Landon Donovan
LA Galaxy: 11/3, USA 2/0.
Note:Includes club league, cup and international competitions.
A year ago to the day, Altidore began a string of five straight games with a goal for the USA when he scored in a 4-3 friendly win over Germany. He went on to score in each of the wins over Jamaica, Panama and Honduras that blew open the Hexagonal race and finished up with a second-half hat trick at Bosnia-Herzegovina in a 4-3 win in August 2013.
All that was following up on a record 31-goal haul for AZ in the Netherlands, but then came the move to Sunderland, where he finished with one goal in 31 English Premier League games and just two goals in 39 games in all competitions for the Black Cats. By the end of the season, he was relegated to the bench -- even spending one game with the Sunderland U-21s.
Altidore's confidence is based on the confidence he says U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has shown in him. What did he do to make Klinsmann, himself a former striker, so confident? "Kick the ball straight," joked Altidore.
Klinsmann admitted he has tried to take the pressure off of Altidore by joking around with him, but he was nonetheless impressed with his work in the win over Turkey. On the first goal, Altidore held possession and drew the Turkish defense to him before playing the ball off on sequence that ended with Michael Bradley feeding a speeding Fabian Johnsonfor a magnificent strike.
"Overall, again a very energetic performance," Klinsmann said afterwards. "He keeps a whole backline busy and that’s what the other coach sees."
Indeed, Turkey coach Fatih Terim, who knew of Altidore from his six-month loan stint at Bursaspor in 2011, singled the U.S. striker out for praise after the game, along with Bradley and Johnson.
Klinsmann said the goals will come.
“We’re waiting for it," he said. "I wouldn’t mind if the goal comes against Ghana right away. No, it is the Jozy we want to see. He will kind of sooner or later break through with goals. You got to work for it and you’ve got to stay hungry and grind it out and sooner or later it’s time and boom the ball is in the net.”