Jozy Altidore isn't going to have much time with his U.S. National teammates before their June 7 World Cup qualifier against Jamaica. On ESPN's Soccer Today podcast, Altidore said that AZ will release him four days before the game that really matters for the U.S., but that he won't be able to attend national team camp before and during the two friendly matches that precede it.
Show co-host Steve Davis had the quotes from Altidore over at Pro Soccer Talk:
Hopefully I will get called in, but I won't be part in any of the [two friendlies] ... I would be released three or four days before the first [qualifier] game against Jamaica, away. That would be the earliest AZ would release me.
That's obviously not ideal for Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S., who were probably hoping that Altidore would get plenty of time for the team before the Jamaica game. We'll probably hear from Klinsmann about whether or not this will affect Altidore's selection for the Jamaica match a month from now, but it's easy to see him being kept on the bench for that game as a result of his late release.
AZ did this to Altidore last year as well and the result was ugly. By the time Altidore was allowed to join up with the U.S. he had spent weeks not training and was not fit. The U.S. will have to hope that Altidore can find a way to stay fit between the end of the Eredvisie season and joining up with the Americans or this year might be just like last year, when he wasn't fit to start until well into June.
While Altidore is Klinsmann's best option up top if healthy given his current form, there isn't too severe of a drop-off to Eddie Johnson. Clint Dempsey is playing enough for Tottenham Hotspur that he'll be very much in consideration for a place up top, and Landon Donovan's return to competitive soccer should soften the blow of Altidore's absence. None of the four players is a like-for-like replacement for Altidore, but there's enough depth and quality between the four that Klinsmann shouldn't be too bothered.