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.”