USA-SVG Takeaways: Altidore's importance grows

The USA opened play in World Cup 2018 qualifying with an easy 6-1 win over St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Even when it was winning earlier in the year against other Concacaf opponents, it was often outplayed. That wasn't the case before a record crowd for a national team game in St. Louis as the USA outshot tiny SVG, 19-2.


1. Altidore comes through when it counts.

Jozy Altidore has come in for plenty of criticism for his play during what by his own admission has been a difficult season, but he remains the USA's best center forward, its best finisher and best hold-up attacker.

Altidore scored in both halves against the Vincy Heat and helped set up two other goals, drawing a foul that led to the free kick Fabian Johnson put away for the winning goal and setting up Gyasi Zardes in the second half.

The goals were his 11th and 12th goals in World Cup qualifying, tying him with Eddie Johnson for third place on the all-time U.S. list, behind Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey with 13 each. They also moved Altidore past Brian McBride into fourth on the USA's all-time scoring list with 31, behind only Donovan (57), Dempsey (48) and Eric Wynalda (34).

With Donovan and Johnson both retired and Dempsey's international future in doubt following his exclusion from the national team for the two November qualifiers, the importance of Altidore's return to full form grows.

USA-VIN: U.S. Player Ratings

2. Fabian Johnson provides attacking boost in midfield.

Fabian Johnson was not only back in the U.S. lineup after being sent home after the USA-Mexico game at the Rose Bowl, he was playing a different position, the position he plays at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Johnson has played left midfield and done well in the past -- starting in wins over Jamaica and Panama in World Cup 2014 qualifying in June 2013 -- and was back in midfield after a strong fall since returning to the Gladbach starting lineup. He was involved in three goals, scoring the second on a deflected free kick and playing corner kicks into the area on the plays that led to the third and fourth goals.

Johnson's move to midfield followed Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to start DeAndre Yedlin at right back. Until now, Klinsmann has used Yedlin almost exclusively in midfield, given his defensive deficiencies, but Yedlin has been starting at right back for Sunderland.

3. Jones should be ready for Tuesday night.
At 34, the oldest U.S. player on the field and out of contract after his second season in MLS with New England, Jermaine Jones started in central midfield, working with Michael Bradley.

Jones grabbed the back of his left leg and was limping late in the game, but he said immediately afterward he should be available for Tuesday's game at Trinidad & Tobago.

Even if he is ready to go, it is hard to imagine Jurgen Klinsmann playing Jones as the lone holding midfielder against the attack-minded Soca Warriors. Against Mexico in the Concacaf Cup, Kyle Beckerman and Jones held down the defensive duties in midfield.

One option for the USA against T&T is go back to that alignment with Johnson moving back to right back to make room for Beckerman in midfield with Jones.

TRIVIA. The attendance at Busch Stadium was 43,433, a record for a U.S. national team game in the state of Missouri.

Nov. 13 in St. Louis
USA 6 St. Vincent & the Grenadines 1. Goals: Wood 11, Johnson 29, Altidore 31, Cameron 51, Zardes 58, Altidore 74; Anderson 5.
USA -- Guzan; Yedlin, Cameron (Miazga, 64), Besler, Ream; Zardes, Jones, Bradley, F.Johnson (Nagbe, 64); Altidore, Wood (Morris, 68).
St. Vincent & the Grenadines -- Mcdowall; Richards, Hamlet, Francis, Richardson; Mcburnette (Solomen, 60) Anderson, Prescott, Bowens (Edwards, 75); Slater, James (Ledger, 60).
Referee: Jeffrey Solis (Costa Rica).
Att.: 43,433.
11 comments about "USA-SVG Takeaways: Altidore's importance grows".
  1. Andrew Kear, November 15, 2015 at 9:54 a.m.

    I never remotely thought Altidore was the problem. It is Klinsmann's obsessive changing of the lineups that have lead to this disorganized mess of a team. For the first time in years I am actually worried about a game against T&T. If the U.S. does win on Tuesday Klinsmann has to go.

  2. Greg Giese replied, November 16, 2015 at 9:53 a.m.

    That's a tough coaching job. You have to win to get fired.

  3. R2 Dad, November 15, 2015 at 11:29 a.m.

    Easy, Andrew--why are your knickers in a twist? T&T has become a better team in recent years, they have dangerous players, upsets in soccer happen regularly, as long as the US qualifies all is not lost. The changing of the lineup resulted in Fabian J playing in midfield and Yedlin playing as a back--why is that bad? Again, the goal is WC qualification, not scratching your itch.

  4. Joe Bailey, November 15, 2015 at 3:15 p.m.

    I agree Andrew, Jozy's not the problem. Beating European teams in meaningless friendlies but not being able to beat CONCACAF competition in meaningful games is a problem...

  5. Walt Pericciuoli, November 16, 2015 at 9:24 a.m.

    All is well, we decimated a team ranked 129th in the world that was a semi-pro team at best.We are great and the ship has been righted. No worries now. We should probably extend Kinsi's contract.
    Altidore has proven he can score when up against inferior competition, nothing else. Yedlin proved he is still a naïve defender. Jones has proven he is old.

  6. Daniel Clifton, November 16, 2015 at 9:44 a.m.

    I will be surprised if the US beats T and T in Trinidad. T and T have been playing strong lately, while we all know the struggles the US team has been going through. Altidore can be effective against CONCACAF competition if he gets adequate service. I think left midfield is the position for Johnson. Leave him there.

  7. beautiful game, November 16, 2015 at 10:38 a.m.

    Jozy has one huge negative, one eyesore is his off the ball movement which is crucial for an attacker. If he's our best attacker, we are in trouble.

  8. Scot Sutherland, November 16, 2015 at 10:59 a.m.

    Not sure you can take anything away from a game like this, except that the US gave away a goal to USL player on a team full of semiprofessionals.

    The T&T match should give us a slightly better idea.

  9. Wooden Ships, November 16, 2015 at 11:54 a.m.

    I bet we see two holding mids vs T&T, which will challenge us in building an attack into our attacking third. MB will have to have a great game. Walts observations on JA, JJ and DY are right, but its also too many poor touches. We will rely upon restarts and opportunistic forays into the 18. FJ has almost always made us more dangerous when at mid. Give me Morris and Wood up top, with Johnson and Zardes on the wings. MB holding, with Feilhaber attacking, oh snap, he's not on the roster.

  10. Dan Phillips, November 16, 2015 at 1:13 p.m.

    Geezes, you knew this would happen. Against a nothing team like St. Vincent Lazy Jozy scores 2 goals and all the writers rave, like he is the only option. No, we have other and better options at forward. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and even Aron Johannsson (when healthy) are better. Stop constantly relying on the INCONSISTANT Altidore!

  11. GT Cowper, November 16, 2015 at 1:39 p.m.

    St Vincent: population 108 thousand. It is a monumental failure of US Soccer for any player not to be rated 8 or higher. The ratings are meaningful only because they are representative of our failure to develop better players from a population of 300 million plus, or find them out there. Pick any town with a population of 108 thousand or more and form a team of men to play St. Vincent. What might the outcome be? Thus is one perspective to take and deal with for soccer management in the US.

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