U.S. Men's National Team

Altidore 'not a fan' of 4-3-3 setup following USMNT draw

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski /USA Today Sports

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski /USA Today Sports

Jozy Altidore understands his role within the U.S. Men’s National Team, but the veteran forward was left frustrated by the tactics around him in Sunday’s year-opening friendly.

Altidore started centrally in a 4-3-3 on Sunday afternoon as the U.S. settled for a scoreless draw with Serbia. Devoid of service, Altidore, like the rest of the USMNT attack, was largely ineffective as the group failed to create chances throughout the match.

“I think it’s no secret — for me, I’m better with kind of a partner up there,” Altidore said, according to Goal USA. “I’m not a huge fan of a 4-3-3. It’s difficult. You need really dynamic guys to be able to play it. We’ll see how it goes.

“It was good to see the ball in the second half a little bit, because the first half was a bit quiet,” Altidore added. “That’s what it is in this formation — you’re lonely a lot at times.”

Altidore went on to say that the U.S. was a bit “toothless” in the attack due to the extended layoff. He expects the group to be crisper on Friday when they return to action against Serbia.

While the USMNT worked extensively on a 4-3-3 throughout January camp, the actual formation shifted throughout Sunday’s match. At times, the U.S. looked to be in more of a 4-2-3-1 with Sacha Kljestan, Darlington Nagbe and Alejandro Bedoya manning the front three midfield positions.

Still, the U.S. fired just one of 12 shots taken on goal with a majority of those shots going wide. Altidore himself had a decent look go past the post on his lone effort of the night.

USMNT head coach Bruce Arena isn’t deadset on 4-3-3 system, but he does believe Altidore has the tools to play a role in that formation.

“He’s a No. 9 type of player, he can certainly do that,” Arena said. “The key with Jozy is getting someone a little closer to him. That was (Sacha Kljestan’s) job today, and (Darlington) Nagbe got close and sparked some combinations with him. We’ll still look at Jozy playing with another striker as well.

“This time of year the attacking players are a little bit behind,” Arena added. “They’re just getting their fitness back, and their touch and all that. They trail, a little bit, the other players and you could see that today.”

  • Atx_Colin

    4-3-3 may arse, if Bedoya and Nagbe were supposed to be playing as forwards someone forgot to tell them, Bedoya at least. I do agree that Jozy needs a strike partner but to call that a 4-3-3 is a stretch.


    • UclaBruinGreat

      Exactly. Altidore said “you need dynamic players” and Bedoya and Sacha certainly aren’t, and neither is Altidore. Actually Altidore is the bigger problem in that formation. He still doesn’t know how to move off the ball into dangerous areas. Why is someone like Chicharito way better than Jozy even though Jozy probably has the better physical tools?? Because Chicharito is great at moving around and getting himself into dangerous areas, while Jozy just stands around with a defender on his back.


      • Old School

        Not a big fan of the comparison, though, I do understand the point. To clarify, Hernandez (no hyperbole) might be the best poacher in the world with his work rate and tireless annoyances to the back line in front of the net. As we all know, Altidore isn’t exactly…tireless, and they are incredibly different players. Hernandez, quite literally, can’t create a goal to save his life with horrendous dribbling skills, but Altidore has proven able to take on defenders with the ball.

        With that said, Altidore did have significant success at AZ when given superb service. In large part, because he found angles and utilized his movement without the ball to put himself in position for key passes. The footage readily available confirms that as it always seemed to be Altidore scoring on a pass over the top, or with a cutting angle between defenders.

        Why that can’t be replicated with the national team is likely one of three reasons: quality of teammate isn’t the same, quality of service isn’t the same, or the manager doesn’t utilize him/set him up the same.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Two Cents

      Exactly. Wasn’t even close to a 4-3-3 although as the entire team moved forward, it may have somewhat seemed that way. But, as others have stated, with no dynamic players on the pitch next to him, he won’t get the service he needs, so he prefers a partner to link up with going forward.

      Jozy isn’t a fan when the wrong players are out there is what it seems he is saying, not to just do away with it entirely. He may prefer the 4-4-2, which is fine and understandable, but when the right pieces are in place, we play quite well in a 4-3-3, at least I think so haha.

      You add Pulisic, Wood, Morris, FJ, and Yedlin…slightly different. But, due to our current crop of players (aka slow), we likely need to run a 4-4-2 to get any chances on goal. That, or make some slight adjustments to the players that were on the pitch last game. Include guys like Feilhaber, Lletget, Agudelo, and Morris. That will change things up quite a bit in my opinion, given our options.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Old School

    Altidore confirming what most of us already know. While not destructive or dividing, I’d personally opt for him to keep his tactical preferences in-house and with the manager, than providing fodder to the media and trolls alike.

    Too many loose lips around the national team lately. Then again, when your vice-captain is throwing teammates under the bus I suppose the culture needs to be addressed, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  • recovered amishman

    Altidore deserves some respect for his football accomplishments but he comes off as another entitled vet. There is something to be said for young and hungry. He could learn something from Woods or Zardes in that category.


    • beto

      got a point. pretty tired of hearing about how Jozy, Nagbe, Bradley, others require so much (typically another player right next to them to handle the hard work)

      meanwhile younger, less entitled players like Zardes, Wood, Pulisic, Yedlin, Johnson, others just seem to play their game successfully regardless where they get thrown into.


      • recovered amishman

        I mean why have a coach at all when certain key players are so limited that your tactics are predetermined by that factor alone. IMO, the biggest favor Arena could do for the USMNT while qualifying is figure out how to ease MB and JA into bench roles and open up competition for those spots. MB and JA have been riding on their reputations for quite a while now without delivering when it is important.


      • whammmm

        A better way to get them on the bench is make someone earn the spot. If someone wants it they’ll fight for it and take it. To be honest it’s a little disheartening someone hasn’t yet. Mainly talking about MB, I already see Jozy having lost his.


  • Patrick

    Jozy should work more on trapping and also winning a singular aerial ball. Worst heading target forward I have ever seen.

    Also he needs to watch how Morris moves off the ball making space for himself. You can’t just sit there.


    • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

      Did u watch the game? Jozys ability to deal with a long lobbed ball created quite a few chances. One being the chest and flick to jones who chipped in nagbe for a shot. The other being jozys header down from a lon ball to jones for a shot. He also brought down another near the end line and, showing his new confidence, attempted to juggle and flick over defenders head- resulting in a corner. Get off your 2013 cliche hatred lol


    • jb

      Yeah some of our best goals over the last 5-6 years have come from a Jozy header assist. He is quite good at making the “extra pass” to set up a teammate. Too much so for me really. Knowing what a rocket of a shot he has, I frequently wish he would turn and shoot more. Especially now that we don’t have a clinical finisher like Dempsey to play off him. All that said, Jozy needs to keep his opinions about how Bruce lines the team up to himself. Tell Bruce, don’t blab to the media, especially during a pretty shaky time all around for the USMNT.


      • Patrick

        Nope. Jozy has the aerial ability of a 14 year old. He has about a 6 inch vertical. I watched A LOT of Jozy when he was at Sunderland and when playing against big, physical defenders. He just gets pushed around. For a man his size, that is unacceptable.

        Also, as I mentioned before, his movement off the ball is bad. He plops in the center of the field and complains about service. Meanwhile Morris, withing minutes of coming on, is making runs creating space for himself.


  • AKinDC

    He’s right, he’s ill suited for a 4-3-3. Wood or Morris however, should thrive up front in it. I’d love to see Nagbe/Wood/Pulisic up front.


  • quozzel

    I agree that this version of the 4-3-3 definitely tended to turn into a 4-5-1…but our CB pairing was a little iffy and we had some new components at outside back as well. It might have been more offensive-minded if it had been more solid across the backline and our distribution out of the back had been cleaner; Chad Marshal in particular was a mess passing out of the back. Yeesh. Let’s get a look at Walker Zimmerman against Jamaica, please; I’ve seen enough of Marshal already.

    Curious to see what a true 4-3-3 with somebody more offensive-minded than Bedoya – who was invisible – would look like, with either a Pulisic or even a Zardes on the right wing.

    I actually really liked Zusi at right back and I think he’s got a future there; he doesn’t have quite the pace of a Yedlin but I like his technicality and ideas going forward and he did not appear to be a defensive liability.

    We came into camp very midfielder-heavy and without a lot of forwards, but I still prefer the 4-4-2 for the USA right now, though it does mean likely sacrificing ONE of either Jones or Bradley because they’re really both #6’s and not #10’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

    Our problem with the 433 isn’t Jozy up top it’s the midfield. We run a 433(4231) rather than a 433(4123). We sacrifice the attacking prowess by using two d mids. Bradley as one d mid sits so far back he’s just a 5th cb and jones gets so far forward that he’s a CF essentially lol. Thus it becomes a disjointed 532 with no one being the bridge in midfield. Defense gets up to wide mids, they then find Bradley who retreats to cb only to send a hope-filled long ball that when successful looks great but fails too often.

    Imagine this

    Wood Jozy pulisic
    Nagbe mb

    Cdm could be kitchen or Williams etc. then jones could come in for nagbe if goal is needed or for cdm(sliding mb back) if holding a lead…..

    Fj and yedlin give u speed and width and two tall cbs holding down defense with cdm


  • Adam M.

    The 4-3-3 works best when the scoring threats come from the sides and the central striker is a poacher. Wood is the best striker we have for that set up. I’ve said for years that Altidore would be better used as a forward threat similar to the way Brazil played Hulk — running towards goal from the midfield and linking up along the way. He’s always looked his best at that spot on the field and he’d draw a ton of fouls that way at least.


  • fast right leg

    Maybe he shouldn’t be starting, then?

    I’m not a fan of him in any formation. 4-6 years ago he was one of our best. We have better options now and he’s only going downhill from this point.


    • Old School

      Outside of Wood, I don’t know who we could realistic make an argument for. Any list compiled would include, almost exclusively, unproven players or injury riddled players we can’t rely on.

      Altidore frustrates the hell out of me, but if we’re being realistic…the cupboard is pretty empty with options that are worthy of replacing him. That’s just our reality presently.

      Of course, a lot could change or someone could emerge before Russia.


      • whammmm

        Old school is right, our depth isn’t exactly shining through up top. I still pull for and have hope for Altidore, but for me Wood does it all(relatively speaking). We have a smaller sample with Wood but it didn’t take long to see his IQ up top. He makes dangerous runs, he has a knack for finding the right space. He can play with his back to the goal, he’s not scared to go 1v1 and he can get in behind. Altidore CAN do those things as well, but for me wood can do them against higher quality defensive units and individuals. Wood has the spot if my opinion matters, Does Jozy start with him? If so who misses out in the midfield? Does Arena really have an issue with the duals? I don’t know the answer to those questions but in my opinion Wood gives us our best chance to win up top, especially in games that will matter.


      • Twomilerule

        Comment direct at whammm. Woods is relentless and reckless and Altidore is calculated. They both have a niche


  • bizzy

    “One must not criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself”…….before you criticize the formation try being all you can be first on the field, and stop making excuses for your lack of luster.

    Nick Rimando (6.5) – The US ‘keeper had next to nothing to do for 89 minutes, but came up with a good save when it counted.

    Graham Zusi (6) – The Sporting KC veteran showed he could aid the attack from right back, and stayed tight to his man when Serbia worked into his corner.

    Steve Birnbaum (5.5) – The D.C. United defender wasn’t overly busy at the back, but did come up with a couple of forceful clearances under pressure. His grade took a small hit for a couple moments of timidity when Serbia forwards breached the box.

    Chad Marshall (5.5) – Though Marshall came up with a handful of strong defensive stops, he also made a couple of mistakes moving the ball out of the back.

    Greg Garza (5) – The left back improved defensively as the game went on, but he never showed a great understanding with his winger and failed to push into the opposite corner when given the chance.

    Michael Bradley (5.5) – The skipper cleaned up some messes in his own end and launched some promising attacks in the first half. He also was guilty of a couple shaky giveaways that knocked his mark down.

    Jermaine Jones (6.5) – After a bit of a slow start, Jones was the team’s main driving force into the final third during his 45-minutes of work.

    Alejandro Bedoya (5.5) – The Philadelphia Union man was responsible for a nice link pass here and hustle play tracking back there, but the team needed him to be more aggressive offensively.

    Sacha Kljestan (6) – The Red Bulls playmaker actively sought out space to maneuver and worked some nice lead balls for teammates. However, Kljestan’s final passes were often a shade off.

    Darlington Nagbe (7) – No one helped their standing more than Nagbe on this night. Though some of his attack moves fizzled out, the Portland ace repeatedly worked the opposing defense and even found time to get back for a few strong steals in the US end. He went close to scoring twice, but probably should have set up a wide-open Jozy Altidore instead of taking the second shot.

    Jozy Altidore (5.5) – The Toronto FC striker started brightly, with knockdowns and hold-up plays helping the team threaten. After about 40 minutes, though, he gradually faded out of the game.

    Coach Bruce Arena (6) – Opting to prioritize continuity over experimentation, Arena put his charges in position to succeed. Even if the execution and intent wasn’t always solid, the game plan was.


    Sebastian Lletget (6) – The LA Galaxy midfielder enjoyed a solid start for his debut cap, showing grit and the ability to push the team forward, often in the same incident. Lletget did suffer a couple of sloppy episodes in the waning moments, though.

    Chris Pontius (5.5) – The Union attacker was fairly quiet until the late going, when he whistled a decent chance just wide.

    Jorge Villafaña (6) – The left back debutant kept things quiet in his own end and showed the ability to support attacking possession during his short shift.

    Jordan Morris (5.5) – The reigning MLS Rookie of the Year really only found one opportunity to get loose, and he fired that chance wildly.

    Benny Feilhaber (6.5) – Back in the USMNT fold after four years on the outside looking in, Feilhaber quickly proved he can still ask questions of the opposing defense. His stoppage time outside-of-the-boot entry feed was classy.

    Juan Agudelo (5.5) – An 87th minute sub normally wouldn’t get a grade, but taking one touch too many on his stoppage time break-in chance cost Agudelo a half-point.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chase

      Did you come up with those ratings, or did you get them from somewhere? Either way, I completely disagree with Nagbe being the run-away MOTM and Altidore getting the same rating as Bedoya. Altidore set up Nagbe with a solid chance that was ultimately wasted, and Nagbe should have been able to pick out Altidore who was in on goal, but instead he sent a shot wide.

      In all honesty, I would say Altidore, Nagbe, and Kljeatan were good but not great and we’re our three strongest players that game. I think all three would have performed much better if they had anyone but Bedoya up there with them (not a Bedoya hater, but he did nothing noteworthy that game).

      I was very annoyed with our mentality that match. Push the damn ball forward and try to to create opportunities. If we give up a counter attract every now and then, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a friendly… but to play so passive under the guise of “keeping possession” is incredibly frustrating.


  • beachbum

    defensively they shaped up 4 4 2 after early failure to keep shape in 4 3 3 defensivley; backline was laying too deep, too much space in between the d lines but with the extra body in the middle once 4 3 3 was scrapped was much better defensively


  • Gary Page

    Well, this is what I’ve been saying. Best would be Jozy up front with Wood or maybe Morris and, if we had him, Dempsey slightly behind as a late arriving CAM. Then we would have something. The other possibilities are Pulisic and Zardes on the wings who have the speed to get behind defenses and also can get into the box to play off of Altidore.


  • Joe Nelson

    Bradley, at one point was putting 50 yard balls on josy’s feet…on the run. Something happened to him prior to Brazil. IMO , this has a lot to do with Alitdore’s frustration. I look forward to seeing Benny, Pulisic and Josy on the same field. I’d rather see Jones start as the 6 here. Bradley can energize the locker room.


Add your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More from SBI Soccer