What Jozy Altidore’s Transfer Means to American Soccer Fans and NBC Sports
Jozy Altidore has capped off an amazing season for club and country by transferring to Sunderland. This will be Jozy’s second go-around in the Premier League after his non-successful loan spell with Hull City during the 2009-10 season. Altidore, coming off a 23 goal season for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie, is going to a team that scored only 41 goals and finished one place away from relegation.
Many Americans from Brad Friedel, John Harkes and Claudio Reyna to Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Clint Dempsey have played in the Premier League. However, with Altidore now coming back on board in England, casual American Soccer fans will have more reasons to stay in their pajamas on Saturday morning to watch Premier League soccer.
The best American outfield player who has played in the Premier League up to this point would arguably be Clint Dempsey. After his 16 goal campaign for Fulham in 2011-12, Dempsey asked to be transferred to a Champions League contender. This dragged out the entire summe resulting in him not showing up for pre-season training and missing the first two fixtures for Fulham. He got his wish at the end of the summer transfer window and moved across London to Tottenham Hotspur. While he did show flashes of greatness, scoring the game-winning goal at Old Trafford and scoring the game-tying goal in the snow against Manchester United at White Hart Lane, Dempsey was not the same player he was at Fulham the season before.
With NBC Sports gearing up for their first year of a three-year $250 million contract, the Peacock is putting their all into this upcoming season of the Premier League. NBC now has a new American face to help build their audience for the casual American Soccer fan. With Sunderland presumably playing many of their games at 10am ET on Saturdays instead of Sundays, soccer fans will want to be sure they have access to NBC Sports Live Extra and/or Premier League Extra Time via their TV provider.
Altidore, whether he wants it or not, will have an impact on future Americans playing in the Premier League. He’s the first American striker to play in the Premier League since Eddie Johnson last played for Fulham in 2010-11. If Jozy can become the man at Sunderland, just like Dempsey was the man at Fulham two seasons ago, Americans will find ways to watch Sunderland.