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U.S. Men's National Team

Klinsmann cites Altidore's disappointing USMNT form as key reason for WCQ snub

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

When Jozy Altidore was left off the U.S. Men's National Team roster for a pair of crucial upcoming World Cup qualifiers, the decision looked to be a serious head scratcher considering Altidore has been one of the best forwards in Europe in the early months of the new club season.

It was no mistake though. It was a decision Jurgen Klinsmann made based, not on Altidore's club form, but rather on his national team form, which has been disappointing during Klinsmann's tenure as head coach.

"I communicated with Jozy that I was not happy about his latest performances with us, maybe even over the last 14 months," Klinsmann told media on Monday during a conference call to discuss the U.S. roster. "I think Jozy can do much, much better and the reason he is not coming in is mainly because of the performances in Jamaica and at home, also in training, also certain things that went on through the May-June camp."

Altidore has scored eight goals for AZ Alkmaar, good for the Dutch Eredivise lead, but his continued struggles to have a similar impact with the national team ultimately led Klinsmann to look at other forward options in San Jose's Alan Gordon and Seattle's Eddie Johnson for Friday's qualifier at Antigua & Barbuda, and the Oct. 16th qualifier vs. Guatemala.

That Klinsmann summoned Johnson and Gordon ahead of Altidore (and fellow missing forwards Terrence Boyd and Chris Wondolowski) for the games against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala was even more eye opening, but Klinsmann cited tactical reasons for his forward selections.

"I spoke to both to Wondo and Terrence and we wanted to bring in Eddie and Alan because both are really strong in the air," said Klinsmann. "We expect two difficult games where the opponents will probably play more defensively and kind of get a lot of numbers in their box to play more defensive against us, so we need to force things with crosses coming over the wings and get really strong in the air.

"They don't leave much space probably on the wings behind their back lines, so that's the reason we bring in Eddie and Alan, two guys that are really good in the air, that can lay balls off and that's how I also explained it to Terrence and Wondo."

The omissions of Altidore and Wondolowski seem to go against Klinsmann's previous comments about the importance of club form, but the U.S. coach made it clear that club form is just one factor he considers.

"It's absolutely important," Klinsmann said of his players' club form. "For sure, now it looks kind of a little bit different in Jozy's case because he's doing well with Alkmaar and he's scoring goals. But he hasn't done well with us in the last couple of camps and that is why now I have more trust right in these upcoming two games in Alan Gordon and Eddie Johnson.

"It is important that they have their club rhythm, it's important that they play well, it's important that they have their starting spot there. But it doesn't mean coming back into the national team, things are for granted, so that's as simple as it is."

As for whether Altidore's absence should be seen as a bad sign for his future with the national team, Klinsmann downplayed the long-term ramifications of the snub.

"This is a decision as of today, for these two games," said Klinsmann. "The door is always open and we hope to see a positive reaction from his end and put more effort and commitment into this whole approach and there will be the next calls coming up."

195 comments
  • Joamiq

    Shouldn’t issues from the May-June camp have already been dealt with by now? I mean, Jozy has played games since then. Sounds like a smokescreen.

    Like

  • MJC-DC

    Who are the 3 or 4? The clear incidents I remember were Verbeek last year and now Klinsmann. Maybe the question you should be asking is how did Jozy respond to his last benching? I’ll take the optimists view, since we all make mistakes, so its not unheard of for a young talented kid to slip up ever now and again. What I am FAR more interested in is how he will respond to this benching.

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  • Logan

    This isn’t the first time Jozy’s had trouble with a manager. He didn’t do well in the EPL with his manager. He was dropped for a lack of effort with AZ Alkmaar and was only back in the side quickly due to an injury of the player in front of him. There seems to be a lot of patience with him from US based fans. We all expect so much of him, we will put up a lot. That shouldn’t make him immune to strong criticism from his manager. He hasn’t produced for the US lately. We can blame a lot of circumstances for this, but ultimately the responsibility to perform falls to him.

    I’m not overly upset about this. He’s having a strong season. Good for him. Continue that and come back to the national team. Prove Klinsmann wrong. But in the mean time, we should stop making excuses for him.

    Like

  • DCP

    I am familiar with this tweet and the version of the facts you have just presented to me. Could it be the reason Altidore was not called in? Like I implied above, maybe, but that is not the reason that was disseminated to the press as indicated in this article. This may sound a little stubborn, but until I see more than a rumor that this tweet was the reason he was not included, I am not going to accept it as the reason. Now this may sound incredibly naive, but Jozy’s tweet could have been a poorly timed comment regarding something else. It is also possible that Klinsmann could have already told Jozy by that point that he would not be called in for these games. Or, assuming the version of the facts behind this tweet that has been rehashed all over this site today is indeed true, it may not have been the definitive reason Jozy was omitted from the roster, but 1 of many reasons.

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  • Daniel Austin

    I understand your point, I think any other reasons you can come up with plus this tweet equal immaturity and naivety on Jozys part. He needs to shut his mouth, close his twitter account and put his nose to the grindstone when he’s on the pitch! If he doesn’t, he’s going lose the respect of usmnt fans.

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  • Bob

    There is something DEEPER going on here. We need a really good investigative reporter to get someone to talk and release what happened back in May/June or, for that matter, the last 14 months.

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  • Scott

    Agreed. Try managing rich kids from a position of weakness. Try managing anyone from a position of weakness. My son is 12. I tell him how I have played and coached the game. I also tell him that to get on the field, he needs to fill a need for the coach. Meet/ exceed his expectations and you play. Earn his respect and you get get to enter into the conversation of tactics and playing style. Buck the coach without earning his respect and you sit. Doesn’t make him right and you wrong. It just makes you a sub. Never forget that your coach has a job and an ego, just like you. The only difference is that he makes the roster.

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  • DCP

    You have no argument from me. I would also add that he should spend some time with Michael Bradley. My memory is a little hazy, but I believe Klinsmann criticized Bradley when he first took over and even started Beckerman over him for at least one game. Bradley worked hard and appears to have made a positive impression with the coach and maybe even some of the fans that previously had issues with him.

    Like

  • goyim

    +1 for Joamiq…. Excellent parry and repost (to quote some fencing lingo from the London Olympics)

    Like

  • Brian

    Well if we mess up against A&B and/or Guatemala and don’t get past this round, he’ll be fired by next Wednesday.

    Like

  • Ben

    Right, because a coach has never said he would like more out of a player. That isn’t even remotely harsh. If Jozy is getting upset at that criticism, then he is in for a long career.

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  • Dennis

    All I can say is biff is an incredible jerk! His continuing negative facination with Bradley is simply inexplicable in any logical manner

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  • Dennis

    I have never been one who thinks a coach should be sharing negative comments about players with the press. (That is a whole lot different than letting the player know his short-comings in private.) I know that a lot of people thought Bradley kept too much to himself, but there is a certain quiet dignity and respect in that, something Klinsmann would do well to emulate.

    Like

  • Daniel Austin

    “He’s a laid-back lad, to be fair, and sometimes he can train like that,” says Iain Dowie, who in mid-March took over as Hull’s manager. “He’s got to get into training as if it’s for real. Everything he does must be to the nth degree. At times he can be languid.”

    Responds Jozy, “I’ve been hearing that for a long time. I think it’s more based on the way I am, my background. I think people get the wrong idea of me because my family’s from the Caribbean. I might come off as lazy, nonchalant. But it’s just laid-back, you know? It’s hard to change what’s in my blood. It’s not lazy, but you go to a training session, everybody’s into it, yelling, getting after it. That’s not my type of thing. I don’t really yell. The energy I put out is there with anybody else’s, but I think they just want to see it verbally. I can work on it.”

    Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    I always find it interesting when someone has many middling excuses rather than one good one. Klinsi has an endless list. Sounds very defensive, like CYA, and makes you wonder what the real story is.

    I mean, May/June camp? That’s four qualifiers past.

    Better off just saying I haven’t seen what I want to see for the US, period, end of story.

    But I think the “tell” he’s saying one thing and doing another is trying to pass off the idea that not just Gordon but EJ are better in the air/ for the US than Jozy.

    Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    I think Klinsi is getting a tad cute with callups all over the field for someone who probably needs all 6 points to control our destiny.

    Like

  • Anthony Cheng

    Ok. Fielding 3 DM’s was not wise, but you really think the midfield was the sole reason for Jozy’s lack of production that game? Also, Klinnsman cited his poor showings for last 14 months – not just Jamaica game.

    Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    Aw c’mon you’ve never seen some guy “retire from international play” a few years too early? Or the never ending drama for France? You’re just sheltered since the closest thing we’ve had to insurrection was ’98.

    Ironically, the “Call of the Cup” theory works better for people who’ve never been there. Jozy has been there and probably figures he has 2-3 cycles more left. Chandler’s the one who should be pliable.

    Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    Jozy is less than his potential but I don’t believe even a bad Jozy falls out of the top 4 and behind EJ and Gordon. He’s letting the personal cloud the professional.

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  • The Imperative Voice

    You don’t send two-game wakeup calls at the conclusion of a hotly contested qualifying round.

    Like

  • joe

    Name one US striker who scored a lot of goals under Klinsy? Klinsy style of play is boring. the Nats are do not play an attacking style of football. Too many times, Jozy have to drop deep into the midfield to touch the ball; no one is feeding him. If it would not cause instability, I’d say fire Klinsy!

    Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    98. Rub the veterans the wrong way with roster decisions and you can lose the team. People should remember Sampson had that team rolling through qualifying, left out Harkes (the whole Wynalda thing), all hell broke loose, couldn’t even beat Iran.

    Just look at France and Domenech. You can’t assume players will just grin and bear it, say rote things about professionalism.

    Like

  • chris_thebassplayer

    JK has been in Jozy’s ear for almost a year as to how he wants him to perform with the nats. it hasn’t happened yet, most of the time it has been quite poor. Jk is simply sending a message. If club performance and goals don’t translate to improved performance with the nats, what good is it…it only matters how he looks with the nats. I think it is a good move bringing in forwards that are dominant in the air in anticipation of facing bunker D in both games.

    Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    Wondo versus Gordon makes sense but Wondo versus EJ does not. But then the three of them make no sense to me versus Boyd or Altidore.

    The worrisome thing is I can do this for each level except perhaps GK, which hints at the space cadet issues we’re dealing with. Not only is this not the best 18/24, I wouldn’t even pick the new people for their supposed roles. Better attacking or wing middies than Kljestan, better Fs than EJ (including aerially); better wing backs than Castillo or Parkhurst, etc. It just feels off, like Bradley’s Gold Cup roster the time he got fired.

    Like

  • Nic D "the TX 2 Stepper"

    Jozy has been benched everywhere he played save for RBNY

    Villareal (2 appearances or so then benched)
    Xerex (Pine Rider)
    Hull (a few appearances, then benched, comments from coach about training and attitude)
    AZ (Same as above, then straightened out and played like 30 in a row)

    Like

  • Todd

    Actually Bob is a class act. I am sure he wouldn’t would bad things for the US team or even Klinsi. His class shines through about the way he has taken over the Egypt job and marching in memory of the brutal violence that erupted after a Egyptian game. Class through and through you might not like his tactile abilities or player selection but you should respect him for how he has handled himself. Unless you were just being factious, then never mind.

    Like

  • smokeminside

    Biff, you ‘just had this thought’ re: Bradley? Please either think a lot harder, or stop thinking altogether because this last idea you’re throwing out here is ridiculous, as many others have already pointed out. Liked your question though, re: are there any soccer reporters good enough to track down whatever incidents between Altidore and Klinsmann may have occurred this past spring. I bet Ives loved that idea, too.

    Like

  • biff

    At least I’m not a hypocrite, Dennis. I see that you are down below agreeing with a poster who is literally calling Klinsmann “a jackass” and some people might think only a jerk would do that. And unlike a lot of wimpy Klinsmann haters on this board and others who hide behind a new pseudonym used only one time on one thread to post potentially controversial comments, I post my comments under my own pseudonym.

    In any case, can you or anyone tell me exactly what I said about Bob Bradley that was bad? Absolutely ridiculous to make that allegation. I said nothing to imply that BB is a bad person. And although I supported BB being fired, there are things I admire about BB, in particular his courage. Anyone with any common sense at all would know that he most likely has some very strong mixed emotions right now about the USMNT, which is coached by his bitter enemy but which also includes his son, who I have no doubt BB wants to play and to be successful in WC 2014 in Brazil. As I say, I would think there are some heavy-duty mixed emotions swirling in BB right now and there is nothing bad about that and it would be perfectly natural for anybody in such a situation to have such mixed feelings.

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  • biff

    Well, TomG, I disagree that Klinsmann is acting line a jackass, but I agree with you that he most likely is not calling up Jozy this week for disciplinary reason related to the Tweet and Klinsmann has every right to do so and should be up front about it. If this week’s snub of Jozy is also, as Klinsmann alleges, because of “certain things that went on through the May-June camp,” then that does not make sense. If that were the case, then Klinsmann would have snubbed Jozy in September with the Jamaica qualifiers and would not have waited until October.

    Like

  • david m

    Jozy hasn’t performed for the national team lately because as a striker he requires a coherent offensive game. Under Klinsmann, the US team has none. Six goals in four games against Guatemala, Jamaica and Antigua! And the goals are mostly off deflections and broken plays.

    Like

  • too soon?

    I think Jozy’s tweet gave us our answer. I think we can say ‘so long’ to Altidore in a US shirt as long as Klinsmann is around.

    Oh well, “next man up” right?

    Like

  • Evan W

    Torres is above average just inconsistent. I have watched enough of his games where sometimes he is the best player on the field, other times he is pretty far off the mark. He has better vision, passing and ball control than 90% of the players Klinsmann called in. There is still potential he just needs to be more confident at times.

    Like

  • Detroit!

    Wrong. This is exactly when you send two-game wakeup calls. Establishing the values and expectations of the program matters most when there’s something to lose. It’s fine to say you have certain expectations of how a player should behave on the field and in practice, but if you abandon your principles just to win, you set yourself up for failure as a coach. That’s the quickest way to lose your team.

    Like

  • Clark

    Looks like it’s been hashed out, but here’s my two cents: JK is over-thinking this. Clearly Altidore is one our best 2-3 forwards. He should be in the squad.

    Like

  • BamaMan

    Detroit!,

    That’s the best comment I’ve read yet. Public insubordination is never acceptable and, if a coach does accept it, he will never command the respect of his team again. Klinsmann is the boss. Period. No American coach in any other sport would have stood idly by while a player on their team tweeted the kind of stuff that Altidore did. Altidore is a great club player and a mediocre international player at this point. He is imminently replaceable.

    Like

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