Jozy Altidore is the happiest he’s ever been, says Gus Poyet


The Sunderland Echo is reporting that Sunderland manager Gus Poyet believes United States striker Jozy Altidore is the happiest he has ever seen him.

The comments come just four days after Sunderland’s season opening 2-2 draw with West Brom where Altidore came off the bench as an 81st minute substitute. Altidore’s introduction into the match helped spur the Black Cats’ attack and four minutes later they were level through a tidy Sebastian Larsson finish.

Altidore arrived back on Wearside following a difficult summer where his World Cup dreams were cut short after pulling up with a hamstring injury in the Ghana match. Since then the American has worked hard to gain his fitness back but, according to Poyet, still has some ways to go.

For Poyet, the upside is that he currently has three forwards – Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham and Altidore – all of whom he sees as capable of contributing. “The idea is always to have options,” Poyet said. “We talk about Fletch and Connor, but I can say that I’ve never seen Jozy as happy as now. I’ve got no explanation for that. But he looks really happy and knows everything that is going to happen and why.”

While Altidore recovers, Poyet plans on easing him into the attack through the role of super-sub. “[Jozy] knows where he’s standing, knows he’s started later and knows he cannot play 90 minutes right now. He knows the importance of maybe the last half-hour for us. Hopefully then we’ll see the Jozy of the last five games [of last season]. That’s great for us. He knows his role in the team for the next month.”

In this way, the hamstring injury could prove a blessing in disguise for Altidore, who heads into this season free from the pressure to produce that he may have felt last year as a high-profile transfer. Instead, the 24-year-old striker can now focus on improving his fitness, impacting matches and, eventually, winning back that starting spot.

Men In Blazers podcast: Mohamed Salah continues to shine

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo marvel at Mo Salah’s four goal, one dime haul in Liverpool’s 5-0 beatdown of Watford, analyze Jose Mourinho’s recent rants about football heritage at Manchester United, and recap Rog’s family trip to Stoke vs. Everton.

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1912 FA Cup winner’s medal stolen

South Yorkshire Police
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A 106-year-old footballing relic has been snatched from a house in England.

The home of the 82-year-old grandson of former Barnsley player Philip Bratley was burglarized last weekend according to the BBC and other reports, and among the items stolen was an “invaluable” FA Cup winner’s medal from 1912.

That year, Barnsley defeated West Bromwich Albion in the finals of the 41st FA Cup, with Bratley scoring the winning goal in the semifinal replay over Swindon Town. He went on to make over 100 appearances for Barnsley between 1910 and 1014 before moving transferring to Liverpool, where he spent one season before he left during the first World War.

“This item is of great sentimental value to the family and belonged to the 82-year-old victim’s grandfather who, at the time, played for Barnsley,” the South Yorkshire police said. “The family is extremely upset that this, along with many of their belongings, have been stolen. If you have any information please get in touch so we can try and reunite this invaluable item with its rightful owner.”

Barnsley has offered to assist the South Yorkshire police in their search for the stolen artifact, as those with any information are encouraged to contact either entity to share what they may know.

Griezmann sets pre-World Cup deadline for transfer future

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
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French striker Antoine Griezmann is no stranger to seeing his name in the transfer rumor mill, but that familiarity doesn’t make it any more enjoyable for the Atletico Madrid attacker (who celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday).

Long-tipped for a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United, Griezmann knows one thing: He wants his future sorted before the World Cup.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“I want to travel to Russia without this concern,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s not about knowing where I’ll play, but about having the peace of mind if I’m still in one place or another.

“It may be boring, but I have told my sister that, whether I stay or not, this will have to be resolved beforehand. What bothers me the most is that everyone asks me about this issue.”

That’s both honest and reasonable, and we can imagine it’s not a blast to answer questions on your future every day. He also has a contract through 2021-22, which won’t make any transfer a simple one.

Griezmann has 23 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Atleti this season, as La Liga’s second place side remains alive in the UEFA Europa League. He’s scored 106 goals for Atleti since arriving from Real Sociedad.

NYCFC signs second Homegrown Player in history

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Four years, two Homegrowns.

That’s the decent track record for New York City FC, which has spotted a second youngster from amongst its ranks in 15-year-old Joe Scally.

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Scally joins United States youth international James Sands as Homegrown Players from NYCFC. Here’s USMNT legend and NYCFC technical director Claudio Reyna:

“Joe has been one of the top performers in the Academy for the past few seasons and represented US Soccer at U-15 and U-17 level.”

“He has all of the attributes we look for in a right-back: he’s strong in defense and can support in attack to help create chances from wide areas.”

Sands was signed last summer, and played 23 minutes for NYCFC against Colorado in his lone senior appearance.