Clear your mind of biases and grudges.
Now think about this — There’s a 26-year-old American striker who has the same amount of United States men’s national team goals as Eric Wynalda had in his entire international career. Said player is tied for 3rd on the USMNT’s all-time goal scoring charts and he’s still got several prime years remaining.
I bet that if you didn’t already know who I was talking about you’d probably think that this player was something special. The heir apparent to Landon Donovan’s goal scoring record and a pivotal player for the USMNT.
You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m talking about Jozy Altidore, one of the most opinion-splitting players the U.S. national team has ever produced.
Purely on paper, Jozy Altidore has had a very impressive national team career so far. However, there’s a more than decent chunk of supporters who absolutely despise him.
But, why? Is it a matter of too many expectations? It’s no secret that the striker position is probably the one that garners the most attention. If you score goals, they love you. If you fall on your face, you’re the goat.
Altidore has surely fallen on his face several times in his time as a pro. When you think of his career, the one word that comes to mind is: inconsistency
As an 18-year-old prodigy in MLS, he broke the league record for a transfer fee (that still stands today) when Villarreal bought him for around $10 million. After scoring a goal in one of his first few appearances, his minutes began to dwindle and so began a long and bumpy career in Europe that saw him go on loan to several different clubs with very little success. A move to the Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar was his renaissance until a second attempt at the Premier League fell flat again. His long journey across Europe finally landed him back where it all began, in MLS.
His national team career has mimicked his club career in many ways. When the rough times hit, he’s a borderline liability to the national team. However, when his form is at it’s best, he’s capable of carrying the USMNT on his back with inspired play.
Most strikers are known for being streaky players. However, Jozy Altidore has always taken that theory to the utmost extreme. When he’s good, he’s the undisputed best striker the national team has to offer. Yet, he can go through spells where you wonder how he’s even managed a call-up.
Nevertheless, Altidore has proven time and time again that he can prove the doubters wrong and be a star player when healthy. The repetitive injury issues are extremely frustrating for everyone involved. Both he and TFC claim to have found the underlying issue causing his hamstring malfunctions. If that’s true and he can stay on the field, then there’s no doubt he will be back in the national team fold.
Whatever your reasons are for disliking Jozy, the fact remains, he’s still the best striker the USMNT can put on the field when fit. Maybe he didn’t live up to your expectations. Maybe he never became that world-class pure striker American soccer fans have craved for years. But, it’s time to start appreciating him for what he is. A damn good striker for our team.
He’s returned from injury this season like a mad man, scoring four goals in his last five matches. He’s been a man possessed as a target striker, holding up the ball better than anyone in the league and finishing his chances.
Here’s his latest:
If he can bring that type of play with him to the national team, like he’s done before in certain stretches of his career, then it’s time to put aside your personal biases and unrealistic expectations and just appreciate what he can offer the USMNT. The numbers speak for themselves, he’s one of our country’s best ever scorers. Stop with the excuses or inane stipulations for his success.
You may still believe that the grass is greener without Altidore in the picture, but he’ll inevitably come back and prove why he’s gotten so many chances as the team’s focal point. It’s not because of some imaginary favoritism, it’s because he’s simply the best option the U.S. has.
Besides, if Jordan Morris says he’s a beast, then who are we to argue?