Former USA international Earnie Stewart, the team director at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, believes that former AZ striker Jozy Altidore should dig in and try to become successful at Sunderland instead of returning to Major League Soccer, as has been rumored. Altidore, whom Stewart mentored during his time at AZ, scored just two goals in 38 appearances for the Black Cats last season.
"First of all, he has to make it work in Sunderland," Stewart said during a wide-ranging interview with ESPN. "I believe that he has the quality as a player to become a very important part of Sunderland and be something in English football. Otherwise, he's going to be known as the player who was at Hull and didn't pan out and now is at Sunderland and didn't pan out. I'm not Jozy, but I wouldn't go back to MLS right now. Because I think he's a very good player."
During the interview, Stewart also revealed that USA striker Aron Johannsson, Altidore’s replacement in the starting lineup at AZ, had ankle surgery on Tuesday that will keep him out of action until early September. According to Stewart, Johannsson has been carrying the injury since before the World Cup.
"He's had this injury for a longer while than at the U.S. national team," he said. "It was something that you could play with; it wasn't a problem to. I've played with the same problem myself. Once it's time to rest, it's something that can aggravate you every time you step out on the field."