Jozy Altidore needs to grow up. On Wednesday night, the 25-year-old, 87-time United States international picked up his third red card of the calendar year in a game where he wasn’t even on the field. Between club and country, it was his third dismissal of the calendar year.

It’s perfectly acceptable to dislike a call the referee makes (what player doesn’t at some point), but Altidore needs to realize that there are three people on that field who change the referee’s mind — the two assistant referees, and the fourth official — and he isn’t one of them. His actions have consequences. Now he will miss Toronto’s next game as they gear up for their first ever Major League Soccer playoff appearance.

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Jozy’s first red card this year was picked up on international duty for the US in a friendly against Switzerland. Jozy was not happy that he had been called for a foul and was subsequently shown a yellow card for dissent. He continued to bark at the referee until he was shown a straight red card for what was later determined to be foul and abusive language.

His second red card was incurred for Toronto FC against the New England Revolution. Again, he was unhappy that he’d been called for a foul, so he kicked Revs defender Jose Goncalves while laying on the ground. He was sent off for violent conduct.

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Wednesday night he was on the bench when the assistant referee and fourth official called referee Fotis Bazakos over and had him dismissed. Again, the violation was foul and abusive language.

A couple of things stand out here:

  • First, US manger Jurgen Klinsmann has named Jozy Altidore captain when Michael Bradley is not in the lineup. These are not the actions of a captain or a leader.
  • Secondly, for as much time as Altidore spends talking about how much he has been verbally abused by opposing fans, opposing players and even his own fans (mostly while playing in the Netherlands), he doesn’t seem to mind dishing out plenty of verbal abuse at the referees.

Don’t misunderstand: It’s not acceptable for him to have to deal with being racially abused by anyone. It’s not right for any player to have to deal with that. But it’s also not right for him to verbally abuse the referees to the point where he’s been sent off twice for it. What Altidore is doing doesn’t reach the level of racial abuse, but it is still a type of abuse – verbal abuse.

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All of this comes in a year that Jozy Altidore claims has been one of the toughest of his career. He hasn’t been very effective for the US men’s national team, and he has not been as good for TFC as they were hoping when they acquired him from Sunderland.

Maybe some of this is born out of frustration, but Altidore is about to turn 26. These acts of petulance must stop. He is one of the highest paid players in MLS and is a veteran on the his national team. It’s time for Altidore to grow up.