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Twitter and the American Footballer

twitter logo 300x110 Twitter and the American Footballer

Jozy Altidore made headlines last week for the wrong reasons with his Twitter outburst after inexplicably showing up late to a match. This saw the striker, who is on his fourth club in fifteen months, suspended.

Altidore’s skill set may be impressive but his body of work both at the club level and as an international is hardly Premiership caliber, at this point. Hull took a flier on Altidore based largely on potential and perhaps an impressive goal against Spain this summer. The player should be thankful he has an opportunity at such a young age to play Premier League Football.

But Altidore, in his now infamous Twitter message/ “apology” showed he has in fact developed an unhealthy sense of entitlement. For a player who at 18, commanded the first ever eight figure transfer fee in MLS history, and at just 19, is on one of the highest weekly wage bills in Hull City’s history, it can be somewhat understood. But nonetheless, Phil Brown was more than justified in suspending his striker, and has been overly generous in allowing the player an opportunity to win back his place on the subs bench.

While Altidore’s “apology” may have been done with the right intent, Twitter which has so often been the communication tool of choice for the player was not the proper venue. That should have been arranged through the club itself, and his manager Phil Brown.

Instead of sulking, Altidore should be taking the opportunity to learn from Jan Vennegor Hesselink, whom he backs up at Hull city. After all Hesselink is a player who has featured in a Champions League semi-final, a World Cup and the European Championship.

Altidore’s outburst was the latest incident of an American footballer expressing frustration, anger and perhaps a certain degree of immaturity on Twitter.

This summer we’ve seen some notable Twitter outbursts. Brian Ching was fined by MLS for calling the ref a cheat. But Ching is a consummate professional who made a mistake. Don Garber was right to fine the Dynamo forward, a minimal amount and simply move on.

But in the case of a trio of young American starlets, Charlie Davies, Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore, Twitter has become a vehicle to proclaim frustrations or simply to express an opinion about matters.

Freddy Adu expressed frustration with Bob Bradley and the US coaches in a June tweet, where he implied that the coaches mistrusted his defense despite the amount of work he had put into that aspect of his game. Adu consistently used Twitter during his prolonged exodus from Benfica to spread lobby for a new club, something that was perfected by English international Darren Bent this summer.

Bent, our readers will recall stated he wanted to go to Sunderland but Tottenham wasn’t allowing him to join up with the Stadium of Light based outfit. Bent proclaimed he did not want to go to Stoke or Hull in a Tweet, and only to Sunderland. After a hefty fine, Bent was finally granted his wish and sold to Sunderland, where he has been outstanding this season.

In the summer before the tragic, early morning car crash that Charlie Davies was involved in, the young American striker too was active on Twitter.  Davies often gave an insight into daily matters with the US National Team that we otherwise do not see. At one point, Midfielder Stuart Holden had hacked into Davies Twitter account after a training session in Miami. Certainly, this helped to keep the mood light in US camp, but having some personal experience as a writer with how controlling the USSF is about the message coming out of those camps, I suspect that the coaches were not amused by either Holden or Davies actions.

Davies proclaimed just a week before his tragic accident both on Twitter and to reporters that the US could win the World Cup next year. It was a brash statement, the type that perhaps would never have been made in the pre Social networking internet world. It was also the type of rhetoric that creates a ridiculous expectation around a US team that quite frankly isn’t going to contend to win a World Cup in the next two cycles.

In many ways, Altidore, Davies and Adu are no different than the rest of us that frequent social networking websites. The three young American footballers have taken the currency of their generation and counterparts and used it to express themselves. However, being a professional sometimes requires restraint and biting your tongue. Hopefully, Altidore and his counterparts can learn from his unfortunate mistake.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

19 Responses to Twitter and the American Footballer

  1. Matt says:

    “Altidore’s outburst was the latest incident of an American footballer expressing frustration, anger and perhaps a certain degree of immaturity on Twitter.”

    What? He posted an apology to the Hull City fans for being late.

  2. Tony says:

    I think you are being harsh on Jozy. After all he was using Twitter to apologize to the fans.

    However, as Grahame Jones asks in the LA Times, I have to wonder if this incident is a further example of how the culture around US Soccer and MLS doesn’t develop the professionalism and the accountability necessary for the majority of our players to be successful in Europe.

    Jones writes:

    ” Or perhaps its the fault of Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team, neither of which seems to demand the discipline required of players in Europe.”

    I think we have seen countless examples of this among the current generation of American players. For all the Dempsey bashing that goes on here and at other sites, he is the one clear example of player not falling into this trap.

    Freddy Adu is a clear example of this, as is Michael Bradley despite his fine play: the immaturity, brashness and selfishness of Bradley seems to know no bounds. Remember Bobby Convey lashing out at Steve Coppell in a way the coach admitted very few domestic bred players would? It’s also obvious that despite some good performances one of the key reasons our Americans don’t always keep places in the first team is because of the inability or unwillingness to consistently apply themselves in training.

    As for Twitter, it’s just another example of how players from the US, a culture that stresses individualism clashes with the team oriented goals most European managers try to promote. Heck, Alex Ferguson is a socialist: how many MLS coaches or American youth coaches are socialists?

  3. Bad First Touch says:

    If Davies proclaimed to reporters that the US could win the World Cup, which he shouldn’t be criticized for, then how exactly can you imply that he wouldn’t have made the same statement in the “pre Social internet world”? Twitter may have been an additional outlet for him, but there’s not reason to believe that if he wasn’t on Twitter he wouldn’t have made the statement.

    I’m always amazed when a professional athlete shows confidence in his team and is then criticized for it. It’s ridiculous to come down on Davies for being positive. Who cares if the US won’t win? Why does that matter? Davies didn’t make a guarantee, he didn’t say “We will win”, he said “We can win”. There’s more than a little difference there, and I really don’t understand the point of saying it creates “ridiculous expectations”. Bullshit. He was asked a question, he gave the answer that I would hope any player on the team would give. Why go if you don’t believe you can win? You and all of the other self-important, holier-than-thou, bloggers can stand atop your crystal palaces and yell that your fellow Americans are stupid for believing the Americans can do well, but I certainly don’t expect the PLAYERS to have the same wet-blanket attitude that you do.

    Jeezus.

    Oh, and please learn how to use a comma correctly.

    • e e cummings says:

      Does anybody really know how to use commas anymore? Older people I work with were taught one way, I was taught a different way, and younger people I work with were taught an even different way. Some schools of thought involve the heavy use of commas, other schools of thought believe in minimalism when it comes to commas. In the end, it really is the preference of the writer.

  4. Haley's Comet says:

    You made some strong points here but truthfully giving Ching a pass while not giving three young players who happen to be black and of Haitian or African descent similar deference as professionals is border line racist.

    Kartik, you seem to like playing racist. You imply Ching is more a professional and for him it was a simple mistake because he’s older and not black. Whether you admit it or not you are playing the race card here. No white player is mentioned as immature or misusing Twitter and you imply it’s some sort of hip hop thing the way you throw social media around.

    As someone who has developed the reputation for racism because of that post you wrote about the Mexicans , the timing and tenor of this post was ill advised, even though your points are strong and argued well.

  5. soccer goals says:

    Haley’s Comet,

    KK, also, mentioned Stuart Holden as a twitter culprit. After reading the article and your comments, I am surprised that you discovered racist undertones in this piece.

    The point is that all players should discern what material they should add on twitter. Using the race card only further segregates and alienates all demographics in this country.

    Twitter and soccer were discussed in this article and nothing more.

  6. mistafantastic says:

    1st off let me say that I am a 36 yr VERY MILITANT PUERTO RICAN/ AFRICAN MALE who’s beyond proud of my people. I say that not to brag, but to point out that if anyone could possibly find racism in KK’s statement it’d be myself. You know what? I COULDN’T FIND ANY!!! He wasn’t discussing the negative unprofessionalism with Bradley, Johnson, Donovan (at times), Convey, Feilhaber, & quite a few other USMNT players who’ve gone abroad. He was directly discussing Jozy, Charlie, Freddy & their situations because they are recent & are most pertinent to the direct topic. He did not let Ching off the hook! Ching said something about MLS refs. This is about young US players overseas not maintaining the proper pro standards expected in Europe! PERIOD! Notice he didn’t mention at anytime 2 other African players Maurice Edu & Damarcus Beasley? Because both of them understand what it means to be a pro in Europe. Even if you are not playing you act professional & get on with it!

  7. Johnny says:

    Kartik, you’re trying to establish the pattern that Twitter/tweeting is frequently the careless pastime of entitled brats playing professional sports (specifically Americans playing soccer). That’s sometimes might be. But Jozy’s Twitter doesn’t back you up at all.

    To help make your case, you refer to it as an “outburst” and you put it in quotation marks when you say it’s an “‘apology’.” So everyone knows, his original tweet read as follows: “Apologize to the all of you. I showed up late. Made a big mistake, I’m very very sorry.”

    Wrong place to say he’s sorry? Certainly. (Though I’m sure this one was directed to his Twitter followers, while a separate, more personal and direct apology was given to his club and teammates.) But was this an “outburst”? Hardly. Is Jozy “sulking”? Not from where I’m reading. He seems contrite and sincere; and contrary to the entire point of your article, he seems to be expressing frustration at no one but himself.

  8. *numbers indicate all-time World Cup Qualifying caps/goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team

    Jozy Altidore (Hull City: 11/6)
    Clint Dempsey (Fulham: 20/5)

    Jozy Altidore is 19 years old. Clint Dempsey is 26 years old.

    While Fulham is getting late minute equalizers out of Dempsey, Hull City is missing out on the difference between what could be 3 points instead of 1 every time Jozy Altidore is sitting on the bench. All he needs is about 3 consecutive starts under his belt, and I guarantee by the 4th start the butteflies of wanting to do well in the EPL will be over and he will start producing goals on a consistent basis.

    If you Hull waits too long though, it will be too late and he won’t be able to save Hull from relegation. Sacrifice a few games, yes I’m saying throw them away, just to get Jozy past that initial adjustment process.

    The rewards of rolling those dice will cash in on this kid. If Hull keeps giving him 20 minutes a game, he’s never going to get past it. So I say show some confidence in your player Mr. Manager and I think you will find your young lad wil reflect that confidence on the field.

    The discipline of Jozy I agree with, but not having enough confidence in a player ready to blossom into something really special who can help you avoid relegation as he steadily improves the more he plays in the EPL is what I dont agree with.

    You already know the result if you keep the status quo old striker, you get what you get, there’s not room for improvement, hes already at his peak. With Jozy, he can get even better than he already is as the season goes on.

    Give Jozy a chance!

  9. earthquakes says:

    This is ridiculous. He posted a freaking APOLOGY. There was nothing wrong with it. Phil Brown was being ridiculous! Who punishes people for APOLOGIZING.

  10. Bravo says:

    I think Phil Brown’s outburst at Jozy happened because Phil knew he was out. There are rumors now that he has left the club.

    Jozy should be punished for showing up late as he was. There is reason to question discipline there. But it was a freaking apology on Twitter. Your quotes around the word apology make it seem like the tweet was not sincere Kartik. It wasn’t an outburst. When will this kid get some regular playing time somewhere?

  11. Ray says:

    To those who think Jozy is being picked on by Phil Brown, he couldn’t keep himself on the field at Villereal inspite of a huge fee being paid for him and some early success, he never saw the field at Xerez, and has seen his playing time diminish at Hull City.

    American fans need to be realistic. He may score goals in CONCACAF, but he is clearly not at the level of a good first division european striker yet. By going to Spain and now England his game has been exposed as not ready for the big time yet.

    He’d have been better served to go to Holland like Bradley or Sweden like Davies to start. And while Kartik needs to acknowledge that Jozy was being stand up in his apology, the kid is clearly immature in his other sulking on Twitter (which I believe Kartik was referring to) and has come out of MLS and the USMNT setup being told he is much better than he really is.

    What do your youth team sources in South Florida, where Jozy played say, Kartik? Do they admit he’s a bit immature and egotistical?

  12. Gern Blandsten says:

    Did you intentionally try to write something this moronic? Or was it just an accident?

  13. LS says:

    I think too much was made of this incident.

  14. Joey Clams says:

    Sorry, folks, but taking team business outside of the locker room is stupid. Apology or no apology, the obsession with Twitter is juvenile. Jozy couldn’t turn up to the match on time, got slapped for it and then went public about it on Twitter. Dumb. Stop trying to be a celebrity, Jozy, and just concentrate on getting to the ground on time.

  15. Joey Clams view is basically mine. I like Jozy but his feet are not grounded right now and he’s well on his way to being a total washout at the top club level in Europe. Villarreal made a judgment on him after 6 months that he wasn’t far along enough or professional enough for him. Xerex was pushing for promotion, which they won and couldn’t upset the squad by integrating him. At Hull, he was sold as some sort of savior but has seen his playing time diminish in two months at the club.

    A lot of American fans, I feel are deluding themselves by constantly blaming managers and other factors for the continued failures of Altidore and Adu, among others at the European club level. I did see G. Jones column and wondered aloud the same thing about the mental and physical preparation of guys coming from MLS. Clint Dempsey was prepared because he is a gritty person who wanted the challenge and was dying to leave to MLS. But some of our other kids are being oversold at a young age, then have it easy in MLS and go abroad and cannot cope. Bobby Convey is another clear example of this situation playing out.

    The Tweeting and cries for attention from Altidore and Adu in particular are very telling when compared to other players tweets. I wish both the best and want both to succeed, but it’s obvious the obsession with Twitter is bit much.

  16. Joey Clams says:

    You know what else, Kartik? I’m still a little sore at Jozy for removing his shirt after scoring the goal against Spain. Nice one, Jozy. You played 65 minutes against Spain with a yellow. Smart. I used to think that American players were above that kind of stuff.

    By the way, Kartik, I respect that you’re willing to invite some heat with your opinions.

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