Fourteen goals in 18 games. From one player. You need to know the context for those numbers — the competition, the player’s role, etc. — but there are very few realistic circumstances where that total shouldn’t give you pause. It’s impressive for a high school player. It’s impressive in college, and if it’s on the professional level, it’s extremely impressive.
That’s where 23-year-old Jozy Altidore stands after today’s hat trick for AZ. Against visiting Vitesse, Altidore leapt into a tie for second on the Eredivisie scoring list with three second half goals, leading his team to a 4-1 victory.
It started in the 55th minute, with Altidore in the right place as the opposing keeper misread a cross, jumped under the ball to leave an open goal for the American striker:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA6bfjzIDCU]
Nine minutes later with AZ up 2-0, Vitesse’s defense completely forgets about one of the league’s leading scorers:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zl6C48pWtQ]
And to cap his day, Altidore is again forgetten in front of goal.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dHI3K2x4Gg]
It’s some of the worst defending you’ll see at this level, but that’s why hat tricks are so rare. How many times do you say “how did that player score three past that amazing defending?”
Credit to Altidore and his teammates. Presented with an opportunity, they took advantage of it.
Big picture: We know Altidore can score goals. Particularly this year, this is nothing new. It’s the other parts of this game where results have become more important.
But at worst, hat tricks are really fun. And it’s a good indication that Altidore’s desire to improve other facets of his game isn’t compromising what you might call his core business.
With a trip to Honduras just around the corner, U.S. Men’s National Team fans have reason to be excited about Alitdore.