[WORLD CUP 2014 COUNTDOWN] Jozy Altidore is still only 24, but August will mark his 10th year in the U.S. national team program. He views himself as a veteran who has learned to help the USA in whatever means he can, having endured his share of ups and downs, so he took in stride his two goals that gave the USA a 2-1 win over Nigeria in its send-off series finale and ended his 27-game scoring drought for the USA and Sunderland, dating back to December.
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“I’ve had the pressure since I was 16, so it comes
with the territory,” Altidore said afterward. “I’ve played for this team for such a long time that I think that it’s my responsibility that I help the team in other ways,
tracking back and being someone that younger guys can look up to. I take that very seriously."
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Altidore's breakout
game came at the right time.
"Obviously, it’s a wonderful message to see that Jozy put the thing in the net," he said. "It gives him a big smile at the right time now. It will give
him a lot of confidence. It’s always a tough period when you don’t score for striker.”
Klinsmann has always insisted that Altidore could work through his drought.
“The moment comes and you put it in there and then you start to be your own self again," he said, "but you’ve got to go through that working process. That’s what I always told
him, you’re not getting it for free. You’ve got to go and work for it. He got sharper and sharper, fitter and fitter and we knew that if he gets chances, he will put one in.”
Klinsmann said Altidore's game should boost the outlook of everyone on the team.
“It affects everybody," he said. "This is what you wish for one another. You know where
everybody is right now and you keep your fingers crossed for all of them. When a sub player comes in you want him to do well and feel confident. Everybody is growing now in his own role within that
team of 23 guys. They see that everyone is so important.”
U.S. Send-Off Series:
Altidore opened the scoring on a tap-in off a pass from Fabian Johnson, who broke through following
good work by Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya.
Altidore added a second goal with a clinic finish after being fed by Michael Bradley.
TRIVIA. Tim Howard earned his 100th cap. He is third goalkeeper to reach 100 after Kasey Keller (102)
and Tony Meola (100).
NIGERIA NEWS. Nigeria's Monaco defender, Uwa Echiejile, was ruled out of the World Cup with a muscle tear and has been replaced by Ejike Uzoenyi.
June 7 in Jacksonville, Florida
USA 2 Nigeria 1. Goals: Altidore 31, 65; Moses pen. 86.
USA -- Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley
(Chandler 75); Beckerman (Diskerud 73), Jones, Bradley, Bedoya (Zusi 60); Dempsey (Wondolowski 86), Altidore (Gonzalez 80).
Nigeria -- Enyeama; Yobo,
Ambrose, Oshaniwa, Oboabona; Mikel (Gabriel, 46), Azeez (Uchebo, 74), Onazi; Odemwingie (Babatunde, 46), Moses, Ameobi (Emenike, 64)