Hull City manager had to wait three weeks to get young American striker Jozy Altidore into the lineup. Once he did, Tigers supporters had to wait only 28 seconds for him to have an impact.
With his first touch in the 61st minute, Altidore posted up in front of Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill and lobbed the ball backwards over his head into an open area in front of goal, allowing Kamel Ghilas to run in and score the game-winning goal against the run of play. Bolton dominated possession and had twice as many shots as Hull, but they were left to curse their inability to finish today.
Altidore wasn’t finished there. In the 70th minute, a Ghilas interception sparked a blistering Hull counterattack. With the young American churning forward, Ghilas sent the ball wide to Geovanni, who lobbed a perfect pass into Altidore, who quickly gathered and lobbed Jussi Jaaskelainen, only to watch the ball bounce inches wide of the right-hand post. His first Premier League goal would have to wait.
Altidore’s impact on the game was clear. His presence immediately improved Hull City’s tempo and counterattack, and Bolton defenders often had to double-team him in the box to keep him in check. However, this also exposed Altidore’s biggest weakness on the day — his inability to use his teammates. Altidore was so eager to open his Premier League account that he missed opportunities to set up scoring opportunities for others. This is something that will need to be fixed on the training ground.
Nonetheless, Altidore played very well in combination with Ghilas and Geovanni today. That trio showed today that it has the potential to open up more than a few Premier League defenses. Whether that’s enough to get Hull City the 40 points it needs to survive relegation remains to be seen, but for now, it’s 3 down and 37 to go.
Altidore also showed he wouldn’t back down from anyone. In the 88th minute, Zat Knight got in Altidore’s face and jawed at him, sparking chants of “USA! USA!” from the KC Stadium crowd. Less than a minute later, Altidore muscled Knight off the ball and launched another late Hull counterattack. This young man is going to be very popular.