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Jozy Altidore

New Striker Signed at Sunderland Spells Trouble For Jozy Altidore As Patience Runs Out

One of the things that always bothers me about how most US soccer journalists cover the sport is that they always seem to focus on the positives. If Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore or any other American scores a goal in Europe, you can guarantee there’ll be an article and video of the goal, with the journalist or blogger practically high-fiving the accomplishment. But when they fail to live up to expectations, the silence among US soccer scribes is particularly deafening.

Two examples where the sub-par performances of USMNT players in Europe are conveniently ignored are Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. While Dempsey is currently on loan at Fulham and has been putting in fair but uneventful performances in a struggling side, his poor 2012/13 season at Tottenham Hotspur had been largely ignored except for his goals against Manchester United.

Dempsey’s season at Spurs was a frustrating one for both player and supporters, who never saw the best out of the American attacking midfielder — but you rarely heard that from the mainstream reporters.

Another American who has been frustrating to watch as of late is Jozy Altidore. After having a record-breaking season at AZ Alkmaar, Altidore has been a flop at Sunderland despite both Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet putting a lot of faith in the American by continuing to play him.

It’s time to stop making excuses for Altidore, and to realize that he isn’t cut out to perform at the highest level in club soccer. In his 14 league appearances for Sunderland (7 of which have been as a substitute), he has scored one goal. But more worryingly for Sunderland and USMNT supporters is the fact that Altidore is not only not scoring, but his performances have been poor.

So poor in fact that this is how one British newspaper rated his performance against non-league side Kidderminster last week in the FA Cup, a game in which Altidore started as striker:

The criticism of Altidore’s performances this season have been growing among local broadcasters. talkSPORT’s Graham Courtney, especially, has been a vocal critic. As the season has dragged on and Poyet continues to play the American striker, Courtney can’t understand why he’s still in the starting XI.

Altidore has missed a couple of gilt-edged chances to score to put his name on the score sheet this season, but more worryingly has been the way that the Sunderland supporters (and his teammates) have been getting on the player’s back particularly when the chips are down and Altidore has been losing possession in the middle of the pitch and making errant passes.

Now it seems that Gus Poyet’s patience in Altidore has run out. Sunderland today finalized the signing of Argentine striker Ignaccio Scocco on a 2.5-year contract from Internacional. The 28-year old striker will compete against Altidore for the starting striker position while Steven Fletcher has returned from injury to try to score goals to keep Sunderland up this season.

While Sunderland have made it into the League Cup Final against Manchester City, Altidore’s role in getting the club there was minimal. Too often this season he’s been invisible on the pitch. His finishing is below average, his passing is poor and he’s not been able to hold the ball up as well as you would think given his strong upper body.

Altidore’s time is running out to turn around his and Sunderland’s league form. With the arrival of Scocco, the worrying sign is that Altidore may not get much playing time in the run-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

For more Sunderland coverage, read the Sunderland team page for news, analysis and opinion.

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  1. Emmett

    January 31, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    The other media guarantee is that British media will not hesitate at the chance to criticize an American’s play. Every game the commentator is sure to fit in at some point of the game how poorly the American is playing. And it’s not just Jozy. It happened in the Sunderland-Stoke game recently. The commentators criticize every little mistake he and Geoff Cameron made.

    People should realize that Sunderland has zero wide play and that Jozy is always in the box waiting for a cross only to see the (usually, British) teammate turn it over without even an attempted cross.

    Jozy needs a speedy striker to play next to him. The best part of Jozy’s play (which the commentators never mention) is his hold up play. But whenever he gets the ball there is no one around him. He’s often left on an island trying to fend off 2 guys with his strength, which he does often. But that’s another good play the commentators never mention.

    • Christopher Harris

      January 31, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      I disagree. Most British commentators praised Landon Donovan’s games at Everton especially during his first loan period there.

      Like I said, it’s time to stop the Jozy excuses. His time at Sunderland has been a flop.

  2. goatslookshifty

    January 31, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Andreas Cornelius got labelled one of the biggest striker flops in history while at Cardiff with 0 goals and 0 starts but Altidore has produced 1 goal in 14 appearances. He has no history of scoring goals in the BPL which shows he can’t score against top defenders. To be a striker in arguably the top league in the world puts him in a elite class but obviously he does not belong there. He’s Championship or MLS quality at best.

  3. Smokey Bacon

    January 30, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    If ever a player needed to come back to MLS it’s Jozy. He just does not cut it in the EPL.

  4. rory

    January 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Jozy is way overrated by the US fans. Christian Benteke is about the same age as JA, had no big-league experience yet scores goals for fun on a team that’s just as bad as Sunderland(Villa’s 10th place in the table is a bit flattering)

  5. Bill Harris

    January 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Jozy had a much better game against Stoke last night, he tormented the Stoke centre backs, competed physically , won the ball in the air and held the ball well. When he was substituted in the second half (mainly because he had given his all) he got a standing ovation from large sections of the crowd. Lets hope he can perform like that consistently.

    • David

      January 31, 2014 at 11:41 am

      I totally agree. Fletcher came off the bench and did absolutely nothing except misplace a single pass. Jozy held the ball and helped craft a few decent chances for his side and took his one chance fairly well. It was a first time shot that he took hard and low, it was just well saved. Fletcher on the other hand did absolutely nothing for his team and the side looked far worse with him on the field.

      • Christopher Harris

        January 31, 2014 at 12:29 pm

        Neither Fletcher nor Altidore are playing well this season, but Fletcher’s goals per game average this season is 0.5 compared to 0.14 for Altidore.

  6. Americano & Proud

    January 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I agree with your take on the American soccer media, they fear criticising national team starters or are not too critical when they should be.

    I agree that Jozy needs to capitalize on his chances and also clean up his first touch. He had one of his better appearances yesterday drawing a red card. However, in your criticism you fail to mention Fletcher, Ji, and Wickham have all failed to score on a consistent basis for SAFC. The strikers fail to get quality service from inverted wingers Borini and Johnson (he can’t hit a cross to save his life) and are often isolated.

    Wickham had a nice spell on loan before being recalled, Ji just scored on his debut against Dortmund cor Ausberg, and Fletcher continues to sturggle with service and injuries. This leads me to believe the strikers are just not getting good opportunities at the club. Both Altidore and Fletcher need to improve, especially with their off the ball movement, but until they connect with the midfield more not much will change. Also, maybe I misheard but i believe Scoccio is more a wide man target man up top.

    • Clampdown

      January 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Yep, I mentioned this in the last slating of Altidore on this site, which seems to be a recurring them: ignore the fact that Sunderland are awful all over the pitch and their midfielders rarely pass the ball to a forward in a good position (no matter who that forward is).

      That being said, it’s just not working for Jozy. I was hoping he would get loaned out for the remainder of the season. He has completely lost his confidence and it shows. He opts almost always to pass or flick on rather than shoot. That’s not what he’s there to do, and it’s a bad place for him to be leading up to a World Cup.

      As for Clint, he looks like he’s lost his drive. And if his performance last year for Spurs was considered poor and he was a flop, Chris, what do you call the current crop of high-priced newbies they brought in who couldn’t score in a brothel?

      • Christopher Harris

        January 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

        Fulham’s latest crop of newbies? It wreaks of desperation by Fulham IMHO. But they have offloaded several players to make way. It looks like Fulham are hoping to get lucky that one of the new players will be the key to winning matches again.

        • Americano & Proud

          January 30, 2014 at 5:24 pm

          Actually he’s talking about Spurs newbies: Soldado, Lamela, etc.

          • Christopher Harris

            January 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm

            Ahh, ok, thanks for clarifying. In Tottenham’s case, the money was burning a hole in their pocket. Some of the players will come good, but it may not be for Tottenham.

  7. SPUD Web

    January 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    So the English media doesn’t talk up English players like they are the second coming? Right!

    Whine much?

    • Christopher Harris

      January 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      The English media are definitely guilty of focusing too much attention on young English players who are the “next big thing,” but the British press are often critical when footballers aren’t playing as well as they should. I don’t tend to see that in the US soccer press, do you?

  8. bennett311

    January 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Maybe this is a move to create competition and push the Sunderland strikers. I suppose we have one more day to see if they move Jozy before the deadline.

    But if Jozy stays, yes his minutes will go down, but he’ll always be one injury away from back in the squad.

    It doesn’t look good for him, I hope he can find his confidence again.

  9. Dean Stell

    January 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve been impressed with some of the non-scoring things Jozy has done, but I think you’re right: There is a lot of excuse making.

    Honestly, this is why I’m okay with Dempsey playing in MLS: He had kinda found his ceiling as a player.

    Same thing with Bradley. They’re both lovely players who can totally “play in Europe”. They just aren’t quite good enough to be a key player on one for the 20 best teams in the world.

    I think we’re possibly seeing the same thing with Jozy right now. He’s still young enough that I don’t think we can totally say he won’t progress anymore, but he’s definitely hitting a bit of ceiling here. I know he lacks service and all that, blah, blah…

  10. Jdoe

    January 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Sunderland is sh**e. He should never have gone there

    • Patrick

      January 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Couldn’t agree more, it’s beyond me why he chose Sunderland of all places. He never really had much of a chance to succede

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