The interesting thing about Jozy Altidore’s re-introduction into Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team is the fluid circumstance in this restoration of good-favor.
Specifically, we can all rightly wonder about this: would Altidore even be in the U.S. manager’s current crop had the MLS playoffs gone a little differently?
When Seattle eliminated Real Salt Lake on Thursday, Sounders striker Eddie Johnson (pictured) was off the board for selection. He may have been anyway, based on a recent injury and his iffy status for the club’s second-leg playoff against RSL. Either way, the Sounders’ victory meant Johnson would certainly not be an option for selection.
Previously, when Johnson was selected in October for the USMNT’s final two semifinal round World Cup qualifiers, it looked like a this-for-that swap: Johnson was in, Altidore was out.
Yes, Altidore was scoring by the relative bundles in Holland’s Eredivisie. But Johnson was scoring by the relative bundles in Major League Soccer. It may not have been a 100 percent wash – the top Dutch league is held in higher regard than MLS, especially at a technical level – but given the scrappy nature of the qualifiers afoot, which more closely resemble scrappy MLS matches, we could call it “wash-ish.”
At any rate, these things will always be fluid choices. That’s why one roster should never a narrative make. Klinsmann knows so … and Altidore, too, apparently.
There will always be some forward hurt, or some forward out of form. Or maybe a midfielder’s form or availability is slipping, and Klinsmann goes with one additional striker and one fewer linking men. So, this roster is never necessarily a portend for that one.
Johnson, by the way, is a streaky striker, too. His form tends to rise and fall, but does so over months and years rather than over mere weeks, as we might see with others.
Here’s what Klinsmann had to say specifically about Altidore’s re-introduction into national team good-favor:
“We are happy having Jozy back in the group. Obviously, he was left out of the last games against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala because of the way he played in Jamaica and maybe a couple other things from the previous months that I wasn’t so happy about. I mentioned it to him, and now having him back in the group gives us an opportunity to talk through that stuff and also to see his total commitment on the field. He’s an important player for us. He’s fighting his way through the Dutch league and doing well there, and we hope he brings the same energy into our group.
We often forget that Jozy is not a 30-year-old player that you already expect to be kind of perfect and mature. He’s still going through ups and downs, which is totally normal. So when a down period comes and I leave him out of the roster, that’s not the end of the world. But it’s also a little signal to say ‘Hey Jozy, maybe there were things we didn’t like before.’ Now we can catch up and see how it goes.”