By RYAN TOLMICH
Jozy Altidore didn’t find the net on Tuesday night in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-0 win against Azerbaijan, but that didn’t stop U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann from singing his praises.
The much-maligned forward is facing the stigma of a disappointing season at Sunderland, and a goal drought that has encompassed most of 2014, but Klinsmann insists that his target striker showed well against Azerbaijan, putting in plenty of work even if he didn’t find his way onto the score sheet.
“Jozy did what we asked him to do: kind of keep that defense on their toes, go at them, get these one-against-one battles and create something,” Klinsmann said. “Maybe create something for you as well, which was not created for him since he didn’t score, but he did a tremendous amount of work.
“He’s full of energy,” Klinsmann added. “He’s sharp. He’s going for goal, looking for his chances and creating himself some chances. He did very well. We’ll keep working and hopefully in the next one he scores.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley echoed Klinsmann’s sentiments while also referencing the importance of an in-form Altidore for the team’s chances in Brazil.
“I think he’s looked very sharp in training,” Bradley said. “I think his mentality has been really good, his attitude has been positive and, in every way, he’s a guy that we’re counting on. Tonight was a good step for him. I thought he worked hard, I thought he was sharp. It’s no secret he’s a guy that we count on and expect a lot from.”
Klinsmann cited Altidore’s passion for the national team as one of his biggest strengths, as the head coach believes wearing the U.S. jersey is something that gives Altidore a boost in confidence.
“He looks better every day and I think this here helps him get more and more confident because it’s an environment that he loves,” Klinsmann said. “He loves to be in the middle of the national team. He will come through and he will start to score. Obviously, the sooner the better for every striker, but I’m very, very positive.”