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Altidore opens up about struggles at Sunderland

Jozy Altidore of Sunderland

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Forwards live off goals, and goals have been hard to come by this season for Jozy Altidore.

The Sunderland forward’s struggles this season have been well documented, scoring just two goals in all competitions and seeing the manager who signed him at the English Premier League club get sacked after just five games.

While he’s received the backing of his current manager, Gus Poyet, and his play on and off the ball has improved considerably in the past few weeks, Altidore admitted that he is low on confidence at the moment.

“To be honest, it’s been tough for me, adjusting to the team and everything,” Altidore told the Sunderland Echo. “I demand more of myself. I’m freezing up in front of goal lately and it’s difficult. The confidence or quick-thinking isn’t there. I’m over-thinking things a little bit.”

Altidore credited teammates Fabio Borini and Adam Johnson, who have chipped in from their midfield roles to score crucial goals for Sunderland to take them out of the relegation zone.

Sunderland have amazingly won four games in a row, including a 2-1 victory in penalty kicks against Manchester United at Old Trafford to send them to Wembley Stadium for the League Cup final.

“Guys like Adam (Johnson) and Fabio (Borini) are having to pick up the slack which is great,” Altidore said. “That’s important and it shows they care about the team. We need that because down the road, we need as many scorers as possible to get points.”

“It’s a totally different system under the new manager,” Altidore added. “But I’m still getting chances, maybe not as many as I’d like, but I’m still getting them and freezing up. It’s something I’ll carry on working on in training because if I didn’t have the ability, it’d be one thing. But I know I have it.”

Even though it’s his second time playing in the EPL, Altidore admits that it’s been tough to get the Dutch soccer mentality out of his system. The problem is that, since moving to Holland, Altidore has flourished as an all around forward, one not just with speed and brute strength but also technical skills.

In the Tyne-Wear derby match between Sunderland and Newcastle, Altidore played a beautiful back-heel flick that lead to the Black Cat’s second goal in their 3-0 victory.

“I’m trying my best,” Altidore said. “The one thing I’m learning more and more, even though I was in the Premier League before, is that English football is all about desire and fighting. “That’s one thing which is different because in Holland, the whole team is designed to play for you, to look for you always.

“In England, it’s not so much like that. You have guys like Phil Bardsley who can take a shot from distance or guys who can score on their own. You have to get used to helping the team in other ways and I’m getting used to doing that.”


What do you think of Altidore’s interview? Think he’s shown improvement in recent matches? Still have hope that he can have a big World Cup, or still worried about his lack of goals?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’ve wanted to convey this countless times to Jozy this past year. I’m sure he gets lots of coaching but as an older player I see these same issues a lot with the younger guys who are too used to overpowering their competition based on sheer talent. At a certain level you just can’t get away with that as much anymore. So you have to play smarter. A few just general observations from a striker and a defenders point of view (as I’ve played plenty of both).

    1) Focus on being less predicable. His main move is quick spin, shift the ball and hit it hard. Make runs when the ball isn’t coming to set up defenders for later. Get in their heads. More subtle, quicker moves even if they are feints. Lots of this extra nuance will make things easier when you finally catch a defender cheating on your move.

    2) Attack that near post! Leave the far post for the smaller players but with your size whenever possible you need to come across the box towards the ball and not moving back where it’s harder to get good service. I’d want my main striker attacking the near post and the AM or SS at the far/ picking up the pieces.

    3) Often you have to make the run before the ball comes. I see lots of players standing still waiting for the passer to face up and let show their intention. By that time the defense can see it too so every once in awhile you have to make that run early before the pass is on just to pull the defenders out of place.

    4) Pick your spots. Not many strikers can run for a full 90 minutes but part of keeping the defenders guessing is switching on and off on when you run super hard.

    5) Have a short memory and play with passion. Lots of very effective strikers are so regardless of talent because they just keep going when things are chaotic. So even if you screw up just stick with the play. You never know what’s going to happen. I’ve seen a few times where the ball is still in the box and Jozy has stopped playing to lament what just happened. Don’t let them see you sweat! Chin up big guy!

    Good luck Jozy!

  2. he hasn’t been playing forward lately…been more of an attacking LW…not that anyone’s actually been watching before commenting here.

  3. Stay strong Jozy! Real USMNT fans know he is just starting to unleash his potential in the Prem as well as Sunderland is finally starting to gel and find some form. I predict a strong finish to the second half of the season and great momentum going into Brazil. He does have his work still cut out for him yes but I know he has the hunger to make it happen.

  4. A) Jozy is still meshing with his new teamates.

    B) Jozy’s team isnt quite the cream of the crop talent-wise

    C) Jozy is in fact still playing Dutch football in the EPL (refer to A)

    D) Jozy, regardless of the league he’s in, prefers to have a striking partner with him to play 1-2s with (watch USMNT highlights with him and dempsey, donovan etc)

    E) IMHO, Jozy’s low confidence is in fact causing him to not read the right runs sometimes because instead of “showing to” in the right gap, he’s just trotting towards the goal/defenders waiting for “service”. The way he plays best is to flash towards the passer while facing goal, trap and shoot( again, watch his highlights, only 25-35% of them are off of headers/volleys from crosses). Ideally Jozy wants a lite lead pass in the box that he can shoot one time or a pass directly to his feet so he can turn and shoot (see: his Chelsea Goal this year)

    As to all of the other crap being said about him, its all irrelevent if you can understand the above points. Once his team gets used to how he wants the ball he will be fine, the only problem is that Poyet wants him to be a hold up striker to help the team escape relegation zone and stay above…..

    TomG i know you feel me! haha

    • I tried watching him full time when he was on camera during a couple of matches mid-Jan. Yes there were times he was “trotting towards the goal/defenders” sort of aimlessly. But I often saw him attempt to break away from defenders and simultaneouly show for the ball, and he was pretty much ignored by his midfield/wings. One in particular – he was ~12 yds out middle of net, turned between widely spaced CBs while showing and the guy with the ball had clear vision of the move …. and he passed sideways. They don’t have confidence in him, either. Hopefully, his recent play will give him and them more confidence in what he can do.

    • Well said, fair observer.
      One other thing people may not recognize or appreciate is that even when Jozy is not scoring he demands a lot of attention from a defense. stretching it, double teams, taking some of their focus off of other players etc. He creates and opens up space for others effortlessly simply by being on the pitch. However we would all like to see him find that goal scoring touch again.

    • MikeG,

      The last time you started a new job , assuming you weren’t a CEO or the big cheese in charge, did you tell everyone that this is how it is going to be and y’all can change your culture to conform with my way of doing things?

      And if you did that how long did you last?

  5. Altidore just proved that the Dutch have a better approach to the game. It’s like reading HOW TO PLAY SOCCER when you watch the Dutch or Dutch league.

    • It is rather gorgeous isn’t it. It certainly the most entertaining and while the Erdivise doesn’t have good defending. Good defenders still make it work all the way to the top. Ajax keeps proving it works in the Champs league.

      • I do think it’s funny how everyone says there’s no defending in the dutch league, but the defenders from there keep getting bought by top clubs (like Vertonghen).

      • both are true.

        it’s not that there aren’t good defenders in the eredivisie, it’s that the focus is always on attacking, so it leaves a lot of space for the opposing forwards.

  6. With Fletcher’s injury looking worse than previously thought and Poyet singing Jozy’s praises, he may have a nice stretch of starts to get that confidence back.

  7. Klinsy said it best, Jozy’s service has been terrible. I’ll bet Jozy doesn’t even feel as bad as he says he does, except he is advised by his agent to sound apologetic to get the supporters back on his side. Even with his problems he should have a handful of goals by now if he had a handful of good soccer players around him.

    • Problem is Wondo is no one can figure out what he was doing before 2010. Its like he barely existed and then appeared at the age of 27.

    • Wondo = Ching=Twellman… All very similar players. Good here, not so much internationally though Twellman was scoring in Germany, just couldnt get a break with the first team

      • With Twellman, at least, the difference with the national team was that he didn’t get service in from the wings. His success at club level came with guys like Ralston delivering quality service. When he had national team appearances, rarely did he have that kind of wing play, the kind design to cross the ball into the box. It’s no surprise that when the first national team goal did come, it came from Ralston’s delivery. With folks like Torres occupying the wing spots, the team is set up to build slowly through the middle, where Twellman’s strength (the thing that made him truly special) was his ability to ghost away from defenders. He created separation better than anyone I’ve seen on the national team, except maybe Donovan.

        Too often people make broad statements about strikers and their scoring rate without any idea of how they play effectively. Mostly because knowing how they play effectively requires watching them play repeatedly. What I saw of Jozy’s AZ success had much to do with the balls played to him from midfield. When I watch him on Sunderland, he’s still making the same runs, but the midfield isn’t playing him the ball. I don’t know whether it’s because they can’t/don’t see the run, don’t trust him, or fear that defenders will cut the pass out.

  8. In 20 years we have had the likes of Wynalda, McBride and now Altidore. Also Moore, Lassiter, Kreis, Twellman, Casey, Ching, EJ, Davies, Gomez. All have either scored a lot in MLS or abroad and yet none have done what the first 3 have accomplished.

    Jozy has the potential to play in also the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. But will he? Can he score in a top 5 league in a consistent rate? Can he score 8-12 goals a season for 5 years? will he score in Brazil?

    • I dont think I can read anymore of this crap…How can you link Altadore with any of those other forwards? Even the weakest of the list is far stronger than Altadore. Except for a brief stint in the Dutch league, his post MLS career has been a bust. It is amazing to me that people cut him so much slack. He’s damn lucky to even be drawing a check based on his production, let alone being called great.

      • It’s you who are the idiot. You downplay production in the the dutch league far too much. The kinds of guys who scored the same number of goals as he did in the Eredivise have names like Bergkamp, Suarez, Huntelaar, and Van Nistleroy. They got recruited by teams that have the kind of midfield that can feed them and give them good opportunities. Because he’s an American, Jozy was recruited by … Sunderland. He’s struggled a lot because the team doesn’t have the talent he’s used to around him, trying to find opportunities for him to score.

        There’s a reason Americans are starting to come home more often – they have to be twice as good to be given half the chances. Kinda like women here at home.

      • yeah right, Altidore is getting “breaks”. Please tell us why he keeps getting these ” breaks” that he so clearly doesn’t “deserve”? What is the reason why Villareal spent a record transfer fee for an American? Why did Bradley and now JK decide to start him? Why did Az and now Sunderland pay for him and start him? Are you seeing something they are missing? Please, enlighten us….

      • It baffles me too. Villereal quickly cut him lose. Then there was Serez (no appearances), Hull (didn’t impress), Bursaspor (loan), AZ (success), and now Sunderland where he isnt scoring. I think he’s still there because he was signed to a 4 year contract and Sunderland doesnt want to eat it, With the exception of AZ, his Euro tour has not been impressive.

        As far as NAT chances go, I can only attribute it to JK doesnt feel he has a better option right now though I think Aron will end up being a better option by the summer. We cannot play a lone striker if that striker can’t create his own shot and Jozy has not shown that this is one of his assets.

      • for the usmnt in the last year, altidore set the record for consecutive goal-scoring appearances (5), which included a hat trick against a top-20 ranked team.

        yes, poor klinsmann, who has to just keep giving chance after chance to such an under-performer.

      • And by quickly he means, “after 3 years” Jozy was behind Guissepe Rossi at Villareal. Serez, Hull, and Bursaspor were all loans. Rossi wasn’t as injury prone back then.

      • Most of the guys in the original list played college soccer and did not even see much professional action until nearly 23 years-old, an age at which Jozy was lighting up the Dutch league. Only EJ scored more earlier, and are you really saying Jozy is not a better player than EJ in so many ways?
        Other than Wynalda at Saarbrucken none of the others scored lots of professional goals as a 23 year-old (or before). As a teenager, Jozy scored 15 goals for the Red Bull in 37 games.
        I think he does not yet have the chops of McBride or Wynalda, but he is well ahead of where those guys were at 24.

    • Can we have a “best forward ever” that cant score… anywhere? What would make him the best? Best at …. what?

      His job is to score and so far, he hasn’t done his job well enough to even be on the field, let alone be the “best.”

      • he did score…”somewhere” and that would be holland, mls and for USMNT. His international strike rate matches dempsey’s, and hes set the season record for US goal scorers in Europe. So…you might want to start paying attention before you post absolute gibberish.

      • What flavor Kool-Aid are you drinking? It’s been a long time since he’s done anything and has bombed on multiple teams over there. He did have a good run in Holland but that’s history and he’s doing nothing for the NATs these days either.

        Watch him sometime in a Sunderland game. Poor movement, Just hangs around doing little. Even Wynalda said the same thing about his lack of movement when he was covering a game. And he know more about scoring than Jozy ever will

        BTW- I also think Dempey’s best days are behind him and do not have him projected as a WC starter at this point

      • Jozy is still relatively young… We’re comparing the careers of guys against someone who probably is just now starting to enter (what should be) the most productive portion of his career. He’s far from a complete player (which is frustrating because of his obvious talent), but it’s unfair to compare him to our memories of a late 20s/early 30s McBride.

        The truth is, the US has never produced a player that routinely scored goals in the double digits for an extended stretch in a top league (or any league for that matter) in Europe. For some reason people won’t forgive him for being Didier Drogba at 24, and even Drogba wouldn’t be scoring 20 goals at Sunderland at 24.

        He won’t ever get to that level, but a cut or two below that might still be the most productive forward in Europe that the US has ever produced.

        McBride was so good because he did more than score goals. His strike-rate is somewhat exaggerated if you look back at is stats, but teams in Europe wanted him for the other stuff. When he went to Europe he was much older and more mature as a person and player.

        I think Jozy has shown some progress there. He still has a long way to go. The difference is he’s trying to develop while in Europe, which is a challenge that few Americans have had to face.

      • a long way to go? Mcbride scored 33 goals in 4 years at Fulham. Jozy scored 39 in two in Holland. Jozy need 10 international goals to pass McBride ( Jozy had 5 this summer).

      • I hear you… I wasn’t really talking numbers as much as how well respected McBride was in England during his stay there. He was a great target forward and did many things besides score goals. Plus, I think there’s a jump between the Prem and Holland.

        Regardless, the premise of my argument was that people were too harsh in demanding McBride’s results in the Premier league of Jozy at 24… If Jozy’s career ended tomorrow, he would be one of the most accomplished forwards in US history. 4 years from now (when McBride was starting his English career), he could easily eclipse him.


        Last year, he led his team in the Eredivisie and scored more goals for a european team in a season than any other US striker.
        Last summer, he scored in 5 straight USMNT games and scored 8 goals in total including a hat trick against Bosnia-Herz.
        Last Oct. he was named man of the match for Sunderland in the Newcastle game

        You have the attention span of a gnat.

        That said, I think you are right, in that I do not like the runs he does not seem to make, but he does other things well and better than he used to.

      • watch almost all the games. Of course we want him to score. what do you think of his coach’s take on his contributions to Sunderland?

        read what Dennis said

  9. It strikes me tht Altidoe also has fouled more people. I am not sure that is in his best interest. All in all he is playing better. But there is one thing that noticd, he is not as spontanous as he one was. He seems to think too much before he goes to the ball and that takes a split second away from properly reactig to the situation.He still lacks fluidity.

  10. I think he will get it going. Jozy, though, seems like a very thoughtful, intelligent, humble guy. I wonder if he needs a streak Suarez in him, that arrogant, self centered, egotistical, irrational, even stupid self confidence that many great goal scorers have.

    • Sad but true — great goal-scorers are often jerks. Another example: Ibrahimovic. Jozy doesn’t seem to fit that mold, but hey, the world’s better off with him as he is.


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