Jozy Altidore’s scoring drought is all about confidence


Jozy Altidore has not scored for club or country since December 4th. No matter how you slice it, that’s not good.

With the World Cup fast approaching, Jozy Altidore is working hard to put his sub-par club season behind him and move forward with the international squad.

After a statue-like performance against Azerbaijan, today’s match against Turkey was a promising step, but there’s still one thing missing:

His finishing.

The man who scored one single Premier League goal for Sunderland is in the lineup to just that, and putting himself in great positions or making solid runs won’t matter if he can’t shoot past a goalkeeper.

Today, Fabian Johnson’s score – a finish by a defender scoring his first-ever international goal – easily found the back of the net for a one-on-one finish, while Jozy fired straight at the keeper at least three times.

He appears timid, unsure of himself, and afraid.

His play is excellent.  He’s using his big frame to body down defenders, he’s streaking past those attempting to mark him, and he’s passing the ball unselfishly when he finds teammates in better positions than he. Klinsmann recognized that he was a positive for the US attack today.

Jozy’s more than just a goalscorer, and that’s what makes him valuable over, say, Chris Wondolowski. But when it comes to shooting the ball into the net, he suddenly becomes fearful, almost like he’s expecting it to be saved.

We all know Jozy’s a streaky player whose confidence can be his greatest asset or his worst enemy.  And when he’s not scoring, it slowly eats away at his confidence like a flesh-eating bacteria, until there’s no skin left for him to fill.

source: AP
Despite his impressive play, Jozy Altidore was unable to get one past

That’s the most worrying thing about this drought; eventually, it’s going to affect the rest of his game, like it did against Azerbaijan, on a more regular basis.  Altidore played very well against Turkey, and deserves to be commended, but he has to start scoring if the United States is going to have any chance of making it past Group G.

Jurgen Klinsmann has other goalscorers in the squad, that’s not the issue.  The potential problem is that if he devolves into the sulking, lump of an Altidore that detracts from the attack rather than helps it, the US is doomed.

He’s not getting any help either, let that be clear.  The referee in today’s match with Turkey was poor, and the US should have been given a penalty at least once, and at this point, US fans will take a goal any way Jozy can get it.

And remember, if Klinsmann benches him at any time, it’s over for Jozy.  That would be the bug in his head that would leave his World Cup confidence in tatters, an unrecoverable situation for the 24-year-old.

They say in baseball that once a pitcher stops pitching and starts aiming, his control is all but lost – the same goes for a striker.  When Jozy attempts to tuck shots past a goalkeeper, they end up in the netminder’s arms. When he shoots, instead of thinking “I can’t wait for this to hit the back of the net” he’s thinking, “I hope this goes in the back of the net” and therein lies the problem.

Just shoot Jozy, please. Just shoot like we know you’re capable of, and the ball will find the back of the net.  The US’s chances at Brazil are riding on it.

College Soccer Update: Tragedy strikes USC Upstate with horrible car accident

USC Upstate
USC Upstate
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No interviews today. No star players and programs. Just mourning.

USC Upstate lost four students earlier this week, two of them men’s soccer players, in an early morning car accident this weekend. A fifth was injured when the car they were driving in ran off the road, hit a tree, and caught fire.

James Campbell and Mills Sproul are the soccer players who’ve left the pitch for the final time.

[ MORE: College soccer news ]

USC Upstate’s athletic department held a candelight vigil on Monday, and honored both players with online memorials.

From Campbell’s, entitled “James Campbell Was an Intense Player Whose Competitiveness Made Those Around Him Play Harder”:

While Kyle Juell and James attended different high schools, they played club soccer together. “James was intense and passionate on the field,” Juell said. “He was the kind of aggressive player you wanted as a teammate. He was fun and warm and full of life and he cared so much about his teammates.”

From Sproul’s, entitled “Mills Sproul Put the Needs of Others Before His Own and Was Accepting of All”:

Mills’ teammate Deon Rose said that Mills was like the brother he never had.

“The first time I met him, I knew that he was special,” Rose said. “Not because he asked me if we had beaches in Canada or how Canadians survived without Chick-fil-A, but because he had an unconditional love for everyone and everything.”

Our thoughts are with the USC Upstate team, and entire community. Rest in peace.

Three stars of the week

1. University of California Santa Barbara — The Gauchos leapt from “receiving votes” to No. 14 in the nation. The Gauchos have won five-straight, all in-state, by a combined score of 13-3.

2. Joey Piatczyc, West Virginia — The midfielder leads the nation in assists with 12, one coming in Tuesday’s upset of Penn State, a match in which he also scored his first of the year. The Mountaineers shocked PSU with a 3-0 home win in Morgantown.

3. Francis Atuahene and Colin McAtee, Michigan — The Ghanaian freshman is a lightning bolt, and keeps producing goals along with the redshirt senior McAtee, who hails from San Diego. The Wolverines beat Duquesne 3-0 on Tuesday.

Other notes

— Creighton dropped two of its 24 first place votes, one each to North Carolina and Stanford, but remains the No.1 men’s team in the nation.

— Wake Forest hasn’t allowed a goal in three matches, against quality competition in NC State, South Carolina and Boston College. There were stretches in the 2-0 win over South Carolina where they looked unbeatable.

— Speaking of the Demon Deacons, they’ll face dangerous UNC on Saturday in what will be a cracker.

— Also No. 1:Florida State (Women’s D-1), Gannon (Women’s D-2), Trinity of Texas (Women’s D-3), Pfeiffer (Men’s D-2), Franklin & Marshall (Men’s D-3).

Three things we learned from the USMNT’s loss to Costa Rica

Joel Campbell, Tim Howard
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There’s really not much to say about the United States’ loss to Costa Rica tonight.

Following a disappointing, disheartening, uninspired loss to Mexico, the USMNT traveled to Red Bull Arena and put in a disappointing, disheartening, uninspired performance against Costa Rica.

[ RECAP: USMNT 0-1 Costa Rica ]

With World Cup qualifying starting in November, there’s a lot to improve on in a short period of time. Here’s what we learned…


Michael Bradley is the captain of this team, and has been the United States’ best and most consistent field player. His importance to the side was evident tonight, as the midfield looked lost without their leader. Danny Williams got the start in place of Bradley and had himself a nightmare. Williams couldn’t hold possession in the middle of the field, and his giveaways put added pressure on the defense. Jermaine Jones wasn’t much better, as he was yanked at halftime and replaced by Mix Diskerud. With Jones and Kyle Beckerman both on the wrong side of 30, their international careers are coming to an end and won’t be in the equation for long moving forward. Danny Williams had his chance to prove his worth tonight, and failed miserably.

[ PLAYER RATINGS: Howard’s return highlights poor performances from USMNT ]


Despite earning his 34th cap for the USMNT tonight, Brek Shea has never really been given a prolonged run with the national team. Originally a high-flying winger, Shea has been used as both a midfielder and outside-back for Orlando City this year, and playing alongside Kaka has helped develop his skill-set. Shea is good from set pieces and has scored before from free kicks for the U.S., and with the way they are playing right now, those situations create their few opportunities on goal. While there is still room for improvement for Shea, he brings a bit of pace and creativity that the side lacks, and a run of games could give him the confidence to become an impact player.


Brad Guzan has what it takes to be a starting goalkeeper for a national side, but not when his competition is Tim Howard. Guzan isn’t to blame for any of the United States’ poor results over the summer or this fall, but simply put, Howard is better. Despite Guzan being five years younger than Howard (Tim is 36), goalkeepers can play deep into their 30’s at an elite level, and Howard looks to be one of those players. Throughout World Cup qualifying, Howard should get the nod as the number one choice, and it shouldn’t be debated.