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USMNT Daily Update: Altidore’s latest gem, his USMNT goal drought, and his forgotten national team goals



When Jozy Altidore slalomed through RKC Waalwijk's defense on his way to his eighth, and most beautiful goal, of the season on Sunday, the goal left many U.S. fans wondering when he will start scoring goals like that for the U.S. national team. His current goal rut stands at just one goal in his past 13 national team appearances, a stretch of more than 15 months that has led to understandable concerns about when his production for the U.S. will kick in.

That drought is also why it seems many have forgotten that, for all the struggles of the past year, Altidore actually has scored goals for the national team before. He has scored 13 to be precise, a total that has him in a tie for tenth place in the all-time career scoring list. When you consider that Altidore is still just 22, the 13-goal total is actually pretty impressive.

How many American players have scored more goals before the age of 23 than Altidore? Five? Ten? Nope. Just one. Landon Donovan, who scored 19 goals before he turned 23.

So Altidore, the player who seems like he never scores for the national team, actually has more national team goals before the age of 23 than any player in U.S. national team history not named Landon Donovan.

He just hasn't scored many of those goals lately (and hasn't scored a national team goal in ten months).

A closer look at the U.S. national team's all-times scoring leaders, and their production before the age of 23, helps puts Altidore early production into some interesting perspective. The next person on the list of leading scorers before the age of 23 is Eric Wynalda (11), followed by Eddie Johnson (nine) and a three-way tie between Joe-Max Moore, DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Bradley (all with eight).

How many national team goals did Clint Dempsey score before turning 23? Try four. Cobi Jones? Just two. Bruce Murray? He managed one. And Brian McBride? He didn't score his first national team goal until he was 24.

This isn't to suggest that there isn't a cause for concern about the fact that Altidore has just one goal in 12 matches under Jurgen Klinsmann, and has yet to score in 2012 for the USA. He does need to start producing more. The point is to remind people that Altidore has scored goals for the national team before. He has scored important goals. He has scored in the Gold Cup, in the Confederations Cup, on the road in CONCACAF qualifying, and he's also scored against Mexico (in his first national team start no less).

Unfortunately for Altidore and the national team, most of those goals came two, three and four years ago. What Altidore has not done is score for the USA lately, and, until he recaptures that scoring touch, the questions will persist. In the fickle world of international soccer, the only thing that matters is what you have done lately, and the dozen national team goals Altidore scored before Klinsmann's arrival are becoming a distant memory.

As impressive as he has been in the Dutch League, and as clear as it is that he is improving as a player, Altidore needs to create new memories with the U.S. national team, both for Klinsmann and for those many fans who have already begun to forget the goals Altidore scored in his early national team years.


  1. Thanks for the further perspective. As I recall, Rooney recently went something like close to a year without scoring for England and Messi only recently has begun scoring with regularity for the Argentine national team. A lot depends on circumstances.

  2. Reply October 02, 2012 at 02:39 AM
    Leo said in reply to GW…
    Oh, sorry to tack on another comment, but it’s also pretty nice to have an attacking side that happens to play for the same one or two teams in the same league. I’m looking at you, Barca and RM.


    You bring up a great point.

    Obviously with comparatively little practice time and many fewer games, national teams can get a great jump on things by capping as many players from the same club as possible. Prime examples would be Germany, built around Bayern Munich and Borussia Moenchengladbach, and Holland built around Ajax and Feyenoord back in the 70’s.

    And of course, the obvious ultimate example would be modern day Spain. The down side is the inherent factionalism that may introduce into the team but it’s probably worth the headache.

    For those who constantly bitch and moan about why the manager does not cap this guy or that guy who is playing well for their club, they should examine your point.

    Sir Alf Ramsey, the manager of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team had three West Ham cornerstone guys; Hurst in attack, Peters in midfield and Moore in defense who always played.

    Ramsey was often criticized for playing his regular Bornsteins ahead of others who might have been in better club form. He said he did it to improve “understanding” and maintain continuity in the team. We would call it team chemistry.

    But in a world filled with fantasy leagues, most USMNT fans think in terms of individuals and their stats and place little value on team work.

    Many USMNT fans can’t understand the dichotomy that Jozy presents

    Most US fans are used to the idea of a player playing for one team at a time. It is hard for them to envision doing well for AZ for example and not doing well for the US, never mind that those are two completely different sets of players, schemes,coaches and opponents.

    In comparison to a unified team like Spain the current USMNT has guys scattered in various leagues around the world. JK has a German contingent, a Mexican contingent, an England contingent, an “other smaller European league” contingent and an MLS contingent. And one guy in Serie A. from what I can tell it seems like a great bunch of guys and everyone is very tight personally but they are still stylistic playing differences.

    The point is one of JK’s biggest challenges is blending all these disparate elements into a coherent whole.

    As it relates to Jozy, the team that he was comfortable with was built around attacking on the counter. It rotated around Donovan and Dempsey and had MB90 as the dominant midfield presence. Some of those guys are still around but everything else is different and Jozy has really had very little actual time on the field with these guys. And we don’t counter much anymore.

    If you need an example of how talented players can look pretty useless when transplanted to a different system look no further than the New York Knicks. Stoudamire is an All Star pick and roll player, fast break kind of guy stuck on a half-court offense team without a Steve Nash style point guard. And he is teamed with a ball movement killer in Carmelo. The end result is you’ve got a bunch of talented players who don’t really fit together and are sitting around going nowhere fast.

    That anyone is thinks this is down to Jozy’s lack of skill, talent, patriotism ( failure to hold hand over heart)or work rate tells you a lot about the basic ignorance of many USMNT fans.

    Boyd and Gomez, everyone’s current favorites (at least until the next hot new guy comes along, maybe this Icelandic kid?) have done reasonably well and produced what? Three goals in eleven games all from Gomez. Mind you I think Jozy should be paired with Gomez but Jozy could equal that total in one game with a little luck.

    Going forward it may be that JK’s system and player pool will never really find a way to incorporate Jozy’s talents or Jozy will not be able to adjust enough to fit into what JK will be doing. That is too bad but it would also mean the US is probably doing well enough without him.

    This would not necessarily be a reflection on Jozy. He might still be a good or even a great player. This happens all the time. Lots of great club players never make a dent internationally. Not that Jozy is in their class but it has taken years for Argentina to figure out how to use Messi, and Portugal has yet to fully utilize Cristiano Ronaldo. It took Italy and Cassano quite a while to get together. And so on.

    Jozy will be fine. The USMNT will be fine. Hopefully, they can be fine together.

  3. It could also be that Altidore turns out to be a player like Claudio Pizarro, Hugo Sanchez, or Samuel Eto’o, strikers that have had great club careers but so-so ones with their national teams.

  4. This just brings to light, the travesty of the U-23 team not making the Olympics.

    It would have been a great opportunity for a player such as Jozy, to play in 3 or 4 important quality matches.

    One other quick point… I believe you play the hot hand. Jozy is clicking right now and has a nose for the goal. JK has to call him to Antigua later this month. At that point it is up to him to earn his spot.

  5. You’ve got to play him if you want him to score. Love what Herc Gomez has done with his career, and loved the goal he scored vs. JAM, but he’s been getting the time at striker over Jozy even though he’s not exactly pouring them into the back of the net, either.

  6. Torres was in the midst of a severe goal drought last year for club and country, but his ship is righting. It happens. Strikers are defined by their last goal, just like keepers are defined by their last “soft goal”. It’s part of the biz and I don’t see why it’s news.

    How we as fans extrapolate the emotional reaction we have to frustration over individual results says as much about us and our understanding of long-term development as it does about the value of any given player (The passion is great, but it has it’s place).

    It also says loads about the assumed expectation of a fan. If you as a fan of US Soccer will not be satisfied until your team wins a world cup I actually pity your tortured soul. The USA winning that trophy in Brazil would be the ultimate Cinderella story, and we’re as close as we’ve ever been in terms of fielding a consistently strong side. To think that “only wins matter” and that “on any given day we can stand with the best of them” is a nice idea, but leaves a lot to chance. I for one want to see the US become as strong as any top 10 program, not simply be lucky. If the USA winds up being as strong as Portugal or Holland that would be no small feat–and yet they’ve never won the World Cup.

    I would suggest that if you are one of these fans that you consider reframing your concept of victory and your concept of excellence. The goal right now for US Soccer should be getting as many exceptional young players focusing on their craft YEAR ROUND, training in the best environments they can have access to YEAR ROUND, and willing themselves to the next level (not in terms of payday, but challenge and building skill). Once that internal culture is established in EVERY player in the national team pool, the wins against bigger sides will come more steadily and we will no longer be a plucky underdog but a true world power in the sport. Michael Bradley is a textbook example of how that should be happening.

    Is Jozy finished with his development? Wul dI like to see him score a hat trick each match, especially against a “weaker” opponent? no doubt. Nevertheless, his progress in Holland is something to be sincerely excited about and to hope continues, not dismiss simply because he’s not scoring goals for the national team. You can dress that position up as pragmatism, but in truth it’s naive and short-sighted.

    JK has said many times this team is in transition. It’s clear he is building from the back. It’s also abundantly clear that our creative attacking options are now the biggest hole in the pool and finding players that will replace Dempsey and Donovan will take years to address, not just a few camps. It is my fervent hope that we’ll see players like Luis Gil, Freddy Adu, Joe Corona, Graham Zusi, Brek Shea and Mixx Diskerrud make their way into similar development situations as Jozy has in the next season or two (are you listening Eddie Pope?). All of them are of the right age for such a jump and since the attrition rate for such an endeavor is pretty high when you condier injury, burn out and plain old potential not being as high as expected, it would mean that at the end of that period we’d probably have one or two really solid options come 2016 (yes, at least 4 years from now).

    We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way. Like Michael Bradley, Jozy’s current success is another important marker of that progress, so be patient and just enjoy the journey, people!

  7. Yes. The essence is, acknowledging that Herc is playing well (though IMO not as lights out as his admirers profess, perhaps in a bid to bolster their arguments for sitting Jozy), should Jozy be 1st choice striker or at least be playing alongside Gomez?

    I think there are definite arguments for Gomez over Jozy. I think the arguments for Jozy to be given a larger role with the National team are becoming stronger what with Altidore’s great club form/goals and Gomez’ lack of playing time/goals for his own club team. Despite what those dismissive of Altidore’s achievements at AZ might think, club form, while by no means solely determinative, should definitely be a factor when it comes to answering the question I posited in the first paragraph above.

    I think the proposed explanation for Jozy’s lack of Nats form by his supporters (lack of opportunity) is a reasonable one, but I understand the skepticism of his detractors on this point. If his club production continues at such a magnificent rate though, it will be harder and harder to accept the idea that he just sucks for the NT and that’s why he gets no playing time.

  8. Fellow Turds-

    This is sorta like no duh Ives or anyone sitting around thinking this. Of course he is going to show better in a league where he consistently trains with the same team for months instead of days and usually the teams they play are at a slightly lower level.

    Of course he is going to do better in a feeder league like the dutch where many younger players are trying to make a name fore themselves.

    Of course it is hard for anyone to produce hard on the international level when you are no longer the most athletic guy on the field by a long shot.

    Of course when the line-up and system is consistently changing around you will not be consistent especially at the international level where he totally depends on his service. Good to see him create for himself in the dutch league.

    Still have huge questions if he is disciplined or technical enough to be effective at the top international level where space and chances are limited.


  9. you are just being ignorant now. it has been explained to you many times that the reason he has done “nada” (1g, 1a in 3 starts actually) is because he has not been there! and the fact that he has not been there or “fit” is not his fault — not klinsmann’s fault either. the fact is that he had more important things to do for the sake of his career. klinsmann was not thrilled by this, but he sent his message as he needed to and i promise you that they will both move on like big boys. altidore secured his spot as our #1 forward a long time ago. that does not mean that klinsmann had to hand it to him — he has done a good job of making jozy continue to earn it, but it is nothing more than that.


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