Sunderland manager Gus Poyet spoke to the Sunderland Echo newspaper this week about his big American striker Jozy Altidore:
“He has many good qualities but the one that tends to get overlooked is that he has an unbelievable shot on him – so powerful.
“I still can’t believe he is only 24, he hits the ball with such power and we have to use that power to best effect.
“Sometimes it is hard – it is very easy to look at a player and say, oh he doesn’t score goals.
“But sometimes you have to look at how you play, especially if that player has scored in other teams and not in yours.”
Sunderland strike partner Steven Fletcher shares similar opinions to Poyet about Altidore:
“He has done really well since he joined the club. He has really put himself about on the pitch and his work rate is amazing. I think you have to look at everything he has brought to the club and not look at him purely in terms of goals.
“He set up both goals against Southampton (in the Capital One Cup) as well as the winner against Newcastle, and there is no way anyone should be complaining. He is a 100 per cent committed player every time, and the goals will definitely come.”
Many American soccer fans were concerned about Altidore’s Sunderland move entering a World Cup year. Four seasons ago, when the Florida-bred striker struggled for Hull City, it impacted his international form.
But Poyet is confident if put into the right situation, Altidore will thrive. But others aren’t so convinced. Recently message boards in the United States have lit up about Altidore’s inability to find the back of the net in England. Now that the United States has been held scoreless in two friendlies on European soil, the concerns are escalating.
The remedy for Altidore may simply be a run of games in the first team with a defined role and similar tactics. For a player that has proven his quality in 2013 both internationally and at the club level (in Holland), closing the year out strongly will be essential.
It is also worth remembering that Altidore has diversified his game in the past few seasons to where simply scoring goals is not how his impact has measured. Better hold up play, finding space more regularly and well-timed surging open play runs are all facets of Altidore’s game that have developed in recent years.