[AMERICANS ABROAD] Making his first start for Hull City since going on compassionate leave following the earthquake that hit Haiti, Jozy Altidore assisted on the Tigers' first goal and earned a penalty that led to their second goal in a 2-2 tie with Wolves. The performance was one of the best of the season for Altidore, whose return followed the news that his relatives in Haiti were safe but who faces an uncertain future at Hull.
Altidore has yet to score in 16 EPL appearances for Hull, which
acquired him on a season-long loan from Spanish club Villarreal.
Paired up front with Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Altidore set up the Dutchman in
the 11th minute for the game's opening goal.
Earlier in the second half, French defender Ronald Zubar knocked over Altidore in the penalty area, and
Stephen Hunt converted the penalty kick.
Just before going off, Altidore came close to finally scoring his first EPL goal, but he was thwarted by
American keeper Marcus Hahnemann.
The tie left Hull in the relegation zone, tied with Burnley for 18th place but only one point behind three teams
and two points behind Wigan in 14th place.
Relegation would be devastating for Hull City, whose debts are reported to approach $40 million.
The Tigers certainly don't have
the money to pick up the option on Altidore.
A move back to Villarreal would bring its own uncertainty. The Yellow Submarine fired Coach Ernesto
Valverde on Sunday following its 2-0 loss to Osasuna.
Since losing Coach Manuel Pellegrini to Real Madrid in the offseason, Villarreal has
struggled. It is currently tied for ninth in La Liga.
"I haven't thought about next season, not at all," Altidore told the Hull Daily Mail before the Wolves' game. "I just try to think about
the now and let it be. I'll put my head down and play, I'm not really worried about what will happen next year, this is the most important time for me and the club. I'm just focused on what's at stake
here for the next five months."
Altidore's return followed the news that his relatives in Haiti were safe.
"It was really scary to see that," he told the Daily Mirror. "My first call was to my
mom and soon after I spoke to my dad and everyone was scared. I'd been there before so it was scary to see the damage that had been done. The whole time it was going on, we waiting on news. It was
nerve wracking definitely. I had quite a few family members whom we didn't hear from. It was a very strange time. We didn't hear until last week, so it was pretty tough to deal with. The last couple
of weeks have made me realize you've got to put life in perspective and understand what's important to you in life."