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Jozy Altidore

Jozy in Spain: A Sparkling Debut

Was Bob Bradley watching GOL TV this morning? How about Peter Nowak? If they did happen to stumble upon Villerreal’s La Liga match with Deportiva, they would have been shocked by what they saw. The same player Bradley has not called into the national team since February came on at halftime and immediately made his presence felt. Altidore replaced Guille Franco, the Mexican international (who was of course born in Argentina and thus why Hugo Sanchez would not call him into the national team, but he has been recalled by Sven Goran Eriksson) transformed the match.

Maybe Bradley and Nowak don’t like the indivudual confidence and flair both Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore demonstrate on the pitch. This is something new for American footballers who have since the days of Tab Ramos and Hugo Perez been less technical and more hard working types. But what was obvious today is that the confidence and flair Altidore possess allowed him to fit right into a team that finished 2nd in arguably the world’s toughest league last season. At the same time players consistently selected above Altidore for the US sqaud struggle to find the pitch. Eddie Johnson did not play for his second division side, Cardiff City this weekend, nor did Michael Bradley who is playing for a Bundesliga side that was just promoted.

Unlike Bruce Arena who selected in form players regardless of where they played and generally did not pick those not featuring regularly on their side, Bob Bradley has his own ideas as to player selection. We can only hope he was watching GOL TV this morning and realizes that only one American is playing for a top four side in a major European league: Jozy Altidore.

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  1. Phillip

    September 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    LRT … these situations are completely different.

    Walcott has been at Arsenal for how long?

    Altidore has been at Villarreal for how long?

  2. LRT

    September 15, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Should England have left Walcott at Arsenal so he could compete for first team minutes which he has not regularly gotten in three seasons there? NO!

    Question answered.

  3. Ryan

    September 15, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    I’m with you on this one. Yes, I do think it would’ve been better for the US team had Jozy been called in for the qualifiers, but being able to get an impressive 45 minutes with the Villareal first team in a competitive La Liga match is much better for him long term.

  4. Soccer Guru

    September 15, 2008 at 10:36 am

    This is a fantastic piece. As Bandetto says Bradley won’t answer the question in press conference after press conference when asked about it.

    Do you really think he did this for Jozy’s well being when Mo Edu and Michael Bradley were called into the team right after switching clubs? How about Eddie Lewis who signed with the Galaxy but was unavilaible for 3 of his first 4 Galaxy games due to National Team duty?

    The Podolski point is spot on. Some players are better on the international level than at the club level. Freddy Adu is one of those players.

    Altidore was not hurt badly and was not called in for the three pre qualifying friendlies while Eddie Johnson was. That tells you Bradley’s bias. As the piece points out it was Bruce Arena who considered club form. For Bradley it is merely an excuse not to pick people. If club form mattered Bocanegra wouldn’t have been picked for the summer friedlies, while Beasley, Dempsey and Johnson still wouldn’t be picked.

  5. Phillip

    September 15, 2008 at 9:33 am

    What matches prior to the qualifiers?

    Altidore was hurt all summer and then he was gone to the Olympics.

  6. bandeeto

    September 15, 2008 at 7:06 am

    I must agree that Bradley’s not picking Altidore worked out for the best, this time. However this doesn’t mean that Bradley made this descision for the correct reason. How do you explain Bradley snuffing Altidore for the numerous matches prior to these qualifiers? Was Altidore recieving such valuable international exposure at NYRB? Was the training he recieved from Osorio too vital for Jozy to miss? The club competition too stiff?

    Of corse either of us could be spot on, or neither. Funny thing is Bradley could clear this up by ansering one simple question which I know reporters have asked on multiple occasions… why no Altidore… why no Adu?

    Bradley doesn’t talk about players? Fine Altidore could step up and say Bradley and he agreed that Villareal experience would be in his best interest. Seems reasonable, but not a peep.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, Phillip. I’m saying your version of the events don’t fit the bill. Not completely. However, as I stated above, things do have the possibility of working out for the best… though at this point in Bradley I most definitely do NOT trust. I hope that I am wrong.

  7. Phillip

    September 15, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Oh, I fully believe that, Jack.

    See, I’m looking at not just the present set of qualifiers against CONCACAF but World Cups 2010, 2014, 2018. It’s FAR more important that Jozy is playing at the club level than him playing against Trinidad and Tobago or Cuba. The competition he faced today is better than any team he can face at our current level of qualifying.

    If Villarreal decide to hold on to Jozy in January and Nihat, Beppe Rossi, Franco and Llorente are healthy minutes will be hard for him to come by in Spain. That’s where the national team will be valuable to him. Jozy needs to go out there and continue to play like he did today, and he’ll have no problems at all.

    We’ve already seen how Jozy fits seemlessly into the national team (Mexico). Plus, I don’t believe that anyone from a big club like Villarreal would get better training from their national team than they do at the club level. Pellegrini is a GREAT coach, and he will help mold Jozy into a great player.

    Jozy is a pioneer for our game in this country. His performance at Villarreal is going to go a long way in beginning to erase that stigma that so many Europeans have about American players. If you saw his match today, you can already tell that the fans were greatly impressed and his teammates were continuously looking to feed him the ball today whether he was posting up on top of the box or if he had drifted out wide. Jozy’s also obviously performed well enough in training that Pellegrini decided to put on an untested 18 year old forward instead of another defender or holding midfielder.

    We have a minimum of 16 matches before South Africa 2010 (13 Qualifiers and at least 3 in Confederations Cup). Trust me, Jozy will be “the guy” on our team. There’s no one else who can do the things that he does.

    Onto Adu, I shouldn’t say that he’s in “trouble”, but obviously there has been a problem. He’s struggled to produce that “thing” that makes his manager say “I have to play this guy no matter what.” whether it’s been at DC United, Real Salt Lake, Benfica and now Monaco. We know that Adu has that ability. Hopefully in the coming weeks, he gets the opportunity to prove it to Ricardo.

    Also, as a Bayern fan and an American of German descent… do not compare Adu to Podolski. Podolski is behind two of the best strikers in the world… and is a ridiculously selfish player. He was very average in the Euros after the first match. Adu can be better than that.

  8. Jack

    September 15, 2008 at 2:32 am

    I find it interesting that you think it is in Jozy Altidore’s and USMNT’s best interests that he got 45 minutes of playing time in Spain when Bob Bradley SHOULD be starting Jozy every chance so he can develop some chemistry with the other players of the USMNT.
    If you believe Jozy needs starting minutes you have to ask yourself one question. Do you believe Jozy is more likely to get STARTING minutes with Villareal or the USMNT? The answer to that question should be the USMNT, if Bob Bradley would just pull his head out of the ground.
    As for your argument that Freddy Adu is in trouble , not true. For an example look at Lucas Podolski in Euro 2008. Freddy Adu is one of the only players we have that does not get rattled when other teams start to press us. Freddy Adu is our best player.

  9. Phillip

    September 15, 2008 at 2:25 am


    I’m not saying Bob’s a genius by any means.

    I think he made the right decision here, though.

  10. Berlin

    September 15, 2008 at 2:23 am

    You’ve convinced me Phillip. Jozy’s continued absence was a master stroke of genius by Bradley and Bradley Jr. in keeping Altidore on the bench of the USMNT and Villarreal while he healed from his injury and got world class training. Genius.

  11. Phillip

    September 14, 2008 at 10:45 pm


    Kartik, you used to be reasonable. What happened?

    Look at it this way.

    Bob not calling Jozy into the last few games has been a Godsend for the kid. This has allowed him to train for weeks with Villarreal allowing Pelligrini to see him up close. It allowed Jozy to step up and really impress in the friendly the other day against the part-timers.

    Let’s be completely honest here also. The fact that Jozy even played today is THE PERFECT STORM. Nihat and Rossi are out injured, so that automatically puts Jozy third on the depth chart. Then Franco is injured, and it’s not known until Friday that he would even be fit to play. Plus, Villarreal have to go to Old Trafford on Wednesday night, and Jozy is the only one of their fit forwards that they didn’t include on the Champions League roster.

    Let’s also not kid ourselves, Jozy was fantastic in spurts today. Of course, I’d take him every day of the week over Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson.

    Regardless of your hatred for Bob Bradley, Bob was right in leaving Jozy in Spain and allowing him to play *now* with Villarreal. *Now* being the key word, as when Nihat and Rossi come back, Jozy will more than likely not receive a lot of playing time. Their plan still appears to be to loan him out in January, and if he can continue to perform like he is, maybe he catches up with a team that’s making a run in the UEFA Cup.

    One thing is for sure, Jozy needed to start getting minutes with his club. He rarely played for the Red Bulls this year due to the injury, and then he was gone for Olympic qualifying and then the Olympics.

    Michael Bradley didn’t play for Gladbach today, because he didn’t arrive in Germany until Friday morning. I would assume the same for Steve Cherundolo, since he didn’t feature for Hannover (Michael made the bench, Steve didn’t).

    The real problem is Freddy Adu. He’s on his 4th club team in 3 years, and he still isn’t getting any minutes (10 on Saturday). This needs to improve for Freddy. Yes, don’t you worry, he will be on our World Cup squad in 2010. I know you and Dave are freaking out about the fact that we aren’t playing our 18 and 19 year old phenoms.

    Let them get their club situations settled before we start flying them all over the world to play against terrible opponents, in terrible stadiums, on terrible pitches.

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