Jozy Altidore just keeps scoring, with a huge hat trick Wednesday, now having struck in a record five consecutive U.S. matches. A foursome of considerations on the recent Sunderland signing:
Altidore is guiding an exciting attack
Two weeks ago we were left to wonder if Clint Dempsey’s surprise move down the world soccer food chain might dilute his drive and subsequently dent the United States attack?
Today, after a reminder of who really is the main man of this mission, maybe a wee downgrade in form or production from Dempsey doesn’t seem so life-altering after all, does it?
Consider what the United States attack now has going for it: Altidore and his blazing confidence at the top, Dempsey lurking in behind, Donovan possibly coming inside from a wide position, Graham Zusi playmaking from the right side and Michael Bradley stitching it all together with his whip-smart blend of safe and adventurous passing.
Not too shabby, eh?
Now, about that back line …
The guy is scoring on free kicks now, too?
Clearly, the man who just moved from Holland’s AZ into a far more pricey neighborhood of the world’s game, Sunderland of the Premier League, has added to his substantial repertoire. A first half free kick wasn’t quite tall enough to evade the Bosnian wall Wednesday.
But Altidore made no mistake with his second attempt from free kick shooting range, placing a ball perfectly into the upper left corner for the third U.S. goal. With Zusi, Donovan and now, apparently, Altidore, the United States has great options on restarts going forward.
The records are falling
Altidore is the first U.S. man to score in five consecutive matches. Remember, that’s a streak that started against none other than Germany, among the World Cup favs. Yes, three of the opponents in this run of scoring fun were CONCACAF teams – but those were in final stage World Cup qualifiers, which means it was the best of the region.
Besides, to begin the streak and end it (well, “end it” for now) against quality European competition stamps this one with a sure legitimacy.
Don’t forget Klinsmann’s man management in all this
It deserves to be said one more time: Klinsmann gets a lot of credit here. He wanted – scratch that, he “demanded” – that Altidore bring out the best in himself. Klinsmann wisely sensed a dangerous sense of satisfaction 14 months ago, a hint of complacency. So he left Altidore back in Europe for those two World Cup qualifiers last fall, dismissing the howls from fans and media, confident in an improved end product.
Clearly, the message was heard. Clearly, Altidore responded perfectly. The dividends are rolling in nicely now.