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Altidore's big smile returns at right time
by Paul Kennedy, June 8th, 2014 12:58AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014

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[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:
YEAR: W-L-T
1998:
1-0-2
2002: 2-1-0
2006: 2-1-0
2010: 1-1-0
2014: 3-0-0

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)
Att.: 52,033.


14 comments
  1. Charles Stamos
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 4:21 a.m.
    Today's biggest disappointment was Dempsey and JK not taking him out earlier. He is so selfish! He had Altidore for an assist, but no he takes the shot and it's saved and that's his game. If he could trap the ball, he would have had anohter easy shot at goal. Third game in a row that we also had a breakdown on the left wing late leading to the PK. Since it was after Beasley left the game, he is not responsible, and I don't think TChandler is at fault. Still, our opponents will be attackng and scoring from their right wing. Fantastic plays by FJohnson and Bradley lead to most of our scoring chances. Spme scary moments in the middle on defense; we just don't have enough time to get the back four playing like a unit. We can beat Ghana, anything else is extra.

  1. Mark Hardt
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 8:12 a.m.
    Going with Beasly was a smart choice. We need some experience back there. I would say pull Besler after two Penalties given in two games but who is left? Brooks? This is where Goodsen would have helped.

  1. Cory Leonard
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 8:36 a.m.
    Besler gave up a pk yesterday, yes. But what choice did he have at the time? It came after we subbed out twice in the back line, which, barring injury, should never ever happen in a real game in Brazil. Cut him some slack. The defense looked pretty sharp yesterday right up until Chandler and Gonzalez subbed in. After that it was chaos. As a team we've looked progressively sharper each game so long as this trend continues and no one gets hurt we are going to put on a show that no one has really seen from us in a World Cup before. Our movement and passing in the final third is quite pretty to watch and it's only getting better. Who would have thought the United States would play creative, attractive football?

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 10:44 a.m.
    I guess Klinsmann was experimenting when he replaced Altidore with Gonzalez. there was no need for 5 defenders in such game. But if he was trying to protect his lead, as an experiment, he needed to work on it in practice. When you add another defender, you need to assign duties more clearly to those defenders, so confusion will not occur. Overall, job well done. But I am still puzzled by the notion that for the last 3 years we have been listening to the revolution that Klinsmann will bring to the USMNT. this is the last game before the world cup start and we saw the exact carbon copy of what we had seen under Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena. I guess even Klinsmann can't change the team's style until he has better player. Let's hope that the Academy system will bring those players in the next few years.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.
    Who cares about Beslers fouls. It shows bite. He didnt have much choice and it shows he is confidant enough to make the tough choices. My worty is that Altidors goals came too little too late. Either this goes two ways. He comes back to a form he has never really consistently had, or he goes on another drought thru the most important tourney in the world.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 12:08 p.m.
    Another quick not on Altidore. This video highlights this very well. Taylor Twellman comments after Josie's goal could be the worst commentary this growing US soccer platform needs to hear. When he says that US fans are looking for that BIG-STRONG-PHYSICAL

  1. John Richardson
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 12:09 p.m.
    3 games - 2 penalties. The big problem is exactly what BJ says "he didn't have much choice".

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 12:17 p.m.
    He is supporting a very bad trend in our youth soccer development. That big-strong-physical is the way to go and has an automatic talisman type status in a US soccer team. This is a problem way of thinking and hurts player development. It makes it that much harder for smaller more technical and tactical players to get respect. This is not basketball. The reason Josie scored that ball was because Bradley spoon fed him a nearly perfect ball. Altidores cutback to his dominant foot for a shot on a one v one was the best choice for him to make because it had the highest percentage of giving him a goal. But in my opinion it was not enough to redeem him to five more years as the starting striker of the US team. A new generation of strikers with some tricks up there sleave are up and coming and hopefully they get some chances. Coaches, please do not listen to Twellmans talismanic talk of Altidore. I think Twellman just loves to feel sorry for fallen players.

  1. John Lander
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 1:07 p.m.
    BJ is opinions like that and the powers that be in US soccer believing it that has US soccer struggling. It is first and foremost an athletic competition. It not tactical ability that is killing the US it’s athletic ability or lack there off. If we put the US player up against the world in a contest of speed, strength, balance, flexibility, jumping, agility without a ball we would be last. The top athletes in those nations play soccer. Our top athletes play other sports. It is that simple. You take great athletes and you teach them technique, tactic and skills in a sport. Since after the 1994 World Cup there have been a massive push to teach technique. Millions of dollars have been spent. Players in the US spend hours and hours year round at expensive clubs, going to camps and tournaments and we still have not produced a world class player. That’s because all the money, time, effort and coaching is been spend on players without the athletic ability.

  1. Dannie Whitehouse
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 6:21 p.m.
    I agree with you, John. Each great soccer team seems to have its own style and collective personality. I believe that has held USA soccer back, trying to play like others. Skill and technique are paramount, but you ," dance with the one that brought you." USA soccer needs exceptional skill, but greatness comes when skill aligns with gifts , work and team chemistry. If it is big and strong that makes it our own, then embrace it and run it to the end. The best part of the USA as a nation is our strength, guts, courage , and work ethic. We need it back as a nation and it might take team USA to the top also.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 6:35 p.m.
    You must not watch much "world soccer". Athletic ability does not just mean Big-Strong-Physical. This is my point. If you only subscribe to being athletic as having those attributes than im not sure we are talking about the same game.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 6:37 p.m.
    Watch Japan next week. Maybe you will get what im trying to say.

  1. John Lander
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 8:57 p.m.
    BJ, you are right as it pertains to just Big-Strong-Physical. Speed, agility, balance, flexibility etc are also important. But I would rather have them in a big body. Smaller doesn’t mean better technically either. Messi is not Big-Strong-Physical, but his balance and quickness are second to none. Yaya Toure on the other hand is big and strong and fast. So when you take athletes like Messi and Yaya with those athletic abilities and you teach them soccer skill you have world class soccer players. No matter the player size, US soccer needs to figure out how to attract the top US athletes.

  1. Dannie Whitehouse
    commented on: June 8, 2014 at 11:31 p.m.
    Amen to your last statement John. I like tough players, not goons. Physical play , not dirty play.. Loved your point about Messi and Yaya. To me, the guy I think brings it all in "world soccer " is Ronaldo; he I has all the skills and can use his strength and physicality while playing the beautiful game...


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