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Jozy Altidore still working his way back from hamstring injury

photo by Stew Milne/USA Today Sports


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — If it looks like Jozy Altidore is not as sharp as he can be, it is because he isn’t. Altidore is still working his way back from the hamstring injury he picked up in May, and needs more time to get back to his best.

That is the explanation U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmman gave on Friday night following the 1-0 win over Haiti.

Altidore slotted in at his usual starting spot up top for the Americans in the Group A match at Gillette Stadium, but did not play much of a role in securing the result. The 25-year-old forward struggled to not only receive the ball in dangerous positions in an overall lackluster first half for the U.S. attack, but also failed to look very dangerous the few times he was in possession.

The inability to make an impact resulted in Altidore being removed from the game at halftime, something both he and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann chalked up to the hamstring injury that Altidore is still recovering from.

“Just slow. I feel slow,” said Altidore, who suffered a strain back in May while with Toronto FC. “I’m not feeling up to speed with everybody else. Everybody else is playing at a different speed than me. I’m just trying my best, and that’s all I can do.”

His best right now might not be as good as U.S. fans have grown accustomed to seeing, but it still should have resulted in an assist.

With the ball at his feet from the left side of the penalty area in the 34th minute, Altidore cleverly slipped in a pass from 18 yards out that forward partner Aron Johannsson fired home. But referee Ricardo Montero disallowed the goal, whistling for offside despite replays showing clearly that Johannsson was left in an onside position when Altidore made the play.

While the goal should have counted, it still was not enough to keep Altidore on the field. Klinsmann pulled his go-to striker at the break in favor of Gyasi Zardes, who immediately made an impact by setting up Clint Dempsey’s winner in the 47th minute.

Zardes earned plenty of praise from Klinsmann after the match, but the U.S. manager also did not sound like he was ready to give up on Altidore.

“He’s still in the process of getting his fitness and becoming 100 percent of Jozy Altidore,” said Klinsmann. “Coming back from that hamstring, it’s not happening overnight. He knows that, we know that. We work him hard in training and he gets his minutes in the games.

“We know he’s going to come sooner or later into this tournament and will score some goals, but we also kind of be cautious with what we are doing with him and how we do it. It’s not a problem at all.”

Klinsmann may be planning to stick with Altidore in an effort to get the veteran forward back to top form, but some observers will likely ask whether the Gold Cup is the place to do that, especially since it has been repeatedly dubbed as important.

But an argument could be made for Klinsmann needing to support Altidore, who has frustratingly had similar hamstring issues in other international tournaments like the 2014 World Cup and 2011 Gold Cup.

Regardless, Altidore is not worrying too much about his place in the team. He wants to regain his sharpness as soon as possible, but wants the U.S. to do well first and foremost.

No matter if that is with him as a starter or reserve.

“To be honest, it’s not about me,” said Altidore. “I think tonight showed a guy like Gyasi can do just as good but if not better. I think that shows the depth we have in the team, and a lot of guys can step in. Aron was fantastic tonight. I was saying to him the other day, the way he plays the pockets, he’s creative.

“We have a lot of options. There’s no reason to be worried about it.”


  1. Jozy looks fat and overweight. He needs lose 10 lbs to gain mobility, speed and stamina. JA needs to slim down in order to avoid keep getting hamstring problems. Period!

  2. Why is there an argument about the abilities of Altidore? You don’t get the title “one of the worst strikers in the EPL” if some part of your game was solid. He is not a good striker….period. They remove him from a game that appeared to be going nowhere and the novice that replaced him changed the game and received MOTM status. Not one shot on goal. So if he can’t score be better at something else but he can’t run into space like a Morris or Johannsson, he can’t assist like a Zardes or Dempsey, he lacks the positioning skills like a Wondo……then what is he good for? Hold up play?
    WIKI: FORWARDS are the players on an association football team who play nearest to the opposing team’s goal, and are therefore most responsible for scoring goals…..job description SCORING GOALS, so why should there even be an argument about him not doing his job?? HE IS NOT SCORING GOALS…..period.
    Imagine saying Brooks can’t stop players from getting by him at all but he is calm under pressure or saying Bradley can’t pass to save his life but he can bend the ball like Beckham.
    This is mind blowing… people can argue for a guy who played in the EPL with 57 appearances (which they had to cut short because he sucked) and only scored 2 league goals. And before anyone talks about his scoring with the USMNT he had 81 appearances to score 27 goals, Wondo had only 28 appearances, mostly coming off the bench, and has scored 10 goals….do the math for the goals per game rate (let’s not even talk about goals “base on time on the field”).
    Then we just watched a game which the team totally changed with him removed and there are still arguments??…….wow.

    • Altidore has scored goals against relevant teams. Nigeria, Bosnia, and Germany to name a few. Wondo has scored a majority of his goals against teams the caliber of Belize, and let’s not forget about his phenomenal miss against Belgiuim last year. Jozy has scored 27 goals for his country, averaging a goal every 3 games, and he is only 25 years old. He is not far off of LD’s goalscoring pace. You cannot compare Wondo to Jozy, it’s not even close. He is best with his back towards goal and holding up play, that is a pretty good attribute to have. He has drawn many fouls over the years with his hold up play. He has also set up goals with his back to goal as well. During the Haiti game he did not play great, but he created a chance on the disallowed goal. It appeared he tried shooting the ball, and a great chance was created as a result of it. I struggle to rip on a guy who has established himself as a top scorer for his national team. He is not even back to 100% yet.

      • Hahahahaha……Altidore has scored against relevant teams???? Hahahahahahaha so has Freddy Adu.
        “He is best with his back towards goal and holding up play”…..hahahahahahahahahahahaha so that means he hasn’t been having his back towards goal and his hold-up play is terrible, since while in the EPL because he isn’t even close to scoring. Klinsy can you pppllleeeaassseee tell Altidore to turn his back to goal so we can get some goals
        ……and what good is drawing fouls / penalties if you are not good enough to score them!!!!
        “He is not even back to 100% yet.”……he sucked before he got hurt, sucked while he was hurt and will continue to suck when he is 100%, and the Gold Cup will put him center stage.

      • “……and what good is drawing fouls / penalties if you are not good enough to score them!!!!”

        this shows your overall lack of understanding for the game of soccer. Brek Shea’s brilliant FK against SUI and the PK vs Stoke were both from fouls Jozy drew; and that’s just off the top of my head. not to mention questions should end with “?s” rather than “!s”… but again, you’re just showing your education…

    • “And before anyone talks about his scoring with the USMNT he had 81 appearances to score 27 goals, Wondo had only 28 appearances, mostly coming off the bench, and has scored 10 goals”

      you’ve made this point and again i will point out two statistical terms that explain this. Sample size and Regression to the Mean. you should study those to better understand the correlation between Wondo and Jozy’s strike rate…

      • I have Wondo can score where Altidore can’t……Wondo leads him in goals in the league, same league. Usmnt seems like they will soon move on with Wondo and I think Altidore should go with him

      • “Wondo leads him in goals in the league, same league.”

        now actually do the goals per minute math for the two…

      • “you’ve made this point and again”
        True……but it looks like you didn’t get it the first time, and I would say come talk to me when Altidore scores a goal ……but we both know that would end other conversation permanently

  3. For the most part he has not been up to par, but he played a big part in the goal against Honduras and should have had an assist against Haiti. Against Honduras he seemed to play with his back towards goal more and held the ball up. There are very view defenders, if any, in
    CONCACAF who could push him off the ball in that position. The US needs to utilize that more. He can free up space for other players by doing that. This is what they need to do, considering he is not 100% yet.

  4. Until he learns to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem as prescribed by the US Flag Code, Jozy can sit at home and practice his mean mugging face in the mirror.

    • and what about the other US players that didn’t cover their heart? are you ready to throw them to the wolves? did you even notice? tunnel vision is bad for you neck…

  5. My biggest issue with the whole Jozy issue is that it demonstrates to me that JK hasn’t learned from the mistake he made at the World Cup. Jozy went down in the first game and we had no similar replacement. Fast forward a year, and Jozy is struggling with the exact same injury (before the tournament) and JK doesn’t bring a similar replacement. Zardes can definitely play there, but for whatever reason, JK doesn’t see him there.

    That’s a red flag to me. JK acknowledged during/after the WC that losing Jozy affected the game plan. Yet he makes the same decision a year later.

  6. JK it’s time to bench Jozy. He has poor control of the ball so is ineffective in tight space. His soccer IQ is not the best. That cut to his right while in the box was unforgivable. There are better options available to JK. Isn’t amazing how good the Team looked against quality European Teams without Jozy and Clint?

    • “That cut to his right while in the box was unforgivable”

      we talking about a CUTBACK???…..not a game, not a game, but a CUTBACK???!!…

      “Isn’t amazing how good the Team looked against quality European Teams without Jozy and Clint?”

      so with that logic we don’t need Tim Howard either, right….right?!…….. smh -______-

  7. Look, everyone knows Jozy can be awesome when he’s fit and in form. Yes, it bothers me that he does not put his hand over his heart during the anthem. Yes, his attitude irks me at times. But he can be a great player, he just isn’t right now. I’d rather have seen Jermaine Jones in this squad and Aron and Deuce up top. Would love to have a big target forward that Jozy can be but he’s not in form at present.

  8. I wasn’t, but I am going to comment. Josie needs to make a one time switch to play for Haiti. You don’t put your hand over your heart, you don’t sing the national anthem, I may forgive you that if you were Lio Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar, maybe. But a scrub like you, like somebody said before, he is not indispensable in this team. Give him the boot for good. Even Klinsmann is getting with the program and has started singing the anthem, so pressure works.

    • I don’t do any of those things either, so sue me. However, I did serve almost 4 years in the military and worked in government for almost 30 years so I don’t think it is necessary to prove my love for my country by engaging in symbolic but basically meaningless acts. And with my singing voice, you wouldn’t want me to sing the National Anthem anyway. Now can we move on to things that are soccer related.

      • This. I’ve always thought our flag worship a bit over the top. Five and a half years in the Army only reinforced that. In fact flag worship is so engrained in Americans (and especially servicemen and women, that part of SERE School is learning to separate the ideals people attach to the flag from the physical object.

        I’ll take off my hat and sunglasses, stand up straight and shut up during the National Anthem, but that’s it.

    • firstly, he HAS sung the anthem before. I don’t always sing out loud, sometimes in my head, and i’m not committing treason when doing so, neither is anyone else.

      secondly, i’m truly curious if you noticed the other US players that didn’t cover their heart, most did but surely not all, but i’m sure with your horse blinders on you missed that much.

      thirdly, you claim so deeply that patriotism is supreme yet you then state that if someone’s good enough you can give them a pass for not supporting the country? sad that you probably don’t see the fault in that logic…

  9. Love Jozy, and I have always believed he was our best striker over the last several years. But he is clearly not fit and should not be playing in this tournament. Presumably prior to last night his injury was deemed completely healed (or else I’m even more confused), and no one was sure where his fitness/form was at. Well now we know. It’s time to sit the guy and let him heal and regain his fitness. AJ and Zardes were great and deserve the shot at more playing time.

    • Agree with JB Jozy is not up to par right now. With only 2 days rest until Panama I would bring him off the bench, 20 minutes or so, to see if he can contribute anything in that role. If he looks sluggish then I would replace him with either Aguadelo or Morris for the knockout stage.

      • lol right? i love hearing the uninformed make coaching suggestions. lol should he bring in the injured Shea? how about Boyd, or Holden, heck just start Adu, Holden, and Boyd, at the same time. throw Gatt and Gyau in there for S’s and G’s…

  10. So let me see if I can get all of this straight:
    -Jozy has a documented history of hamstring injuries
    – Jozy has a current hamstring injury he’s recovering from
    – Jozy is clearly not up to speed, his play shows it, he admits it, and his coach subs him out because of it

    So let me see if I understand the CURRENT Jozy narrative:
    – He stinks and always has
    – He is lazy and doesn’t score or make good runs, and his feet are bricks
    – Because he failed at Sunderland he is overrated and shouldn’t be on this squad
    – He purposely played poorly vs. Haiti due to his heritage
    – He doesn’t hold his hand over his heart (which he never has) and that action and narrative has resurrected itself conveniently when we’re in the same group as Haiti, so that translates to him being a terrible player
    – The coach and his staff don’t know how to get him back into form and JK has a bias towards him for some unknown reason
    – He shouldn’t be here now, he should be in Toronto rehabbing his Hammy, because certain posters have unequivocal proven knowledge that the Toronto staff is better than the Nat Team staff

    So let me see if I understand certain facts:
    – Jozy is one of only TWO proven goal scorers on this team at the Intl level
    – Jozy has been dropped by JK in the past
    – Jozy has gone through tough stretches yet it didn’t affect his Nat Team play (The opposite of most)
    – JK has shown he will drop players who aren’t performing
    -Jozy has injured his hamstring more times under other squads or coaches than under JK

    I just wanted to make sure I have all this straight.

    I said a few weeks ago when a nuclear explosion of criticism towards Dempsey happened, that the following will happen: I predicted:
    Deuce will not be affected, won’t care if MB gets the armband, and most importantly, when he starts scoring goals for the usmnt the SBI peanut gallery will have to find another villain to overreact to. Well enter Jozy Lazy-Anti-Score… SBI’s newest villain.

    If any of you think JK won’t drop him if necessary, think again
    If any of you think we don’t need him playing at his best, when he’s only 1 of 2 proven scorers at this level, think again
    If any of you think there’s a better way to get him back into game form other than getting him some competitive minutes, think again. Especially at this point in the tournament. It’s not like there’s 10 guys playing awesome and JA is AWOL

    He will improve, or he won’t play. Period.
    Signing off until the next villain appears…. Who will it be?
    My guess is it will be Carli Lloyd or Lauren Holliday…….. you know, those hacks that stunk a few weeks ago and shoulda been replaced….

    • LOL. Well said.

      All that said…Jozy does have a problem, and I do think JK is making a move…albeit not one people really understand yet.

      I think Jozy’s problem is that Jurgen Klinsmann is finally making his move to a true 4-3-3 as a preferred formation…and that both he and Dempsey are both center strikers who can’t play on the outside. Jurgen’s not planning on playing with a hold-up guy any longer…the center striker now is going to be a false 9.

      Jozy’s problem is this: yeah, he’s the second-best proven goal-scorer on the USMNT. But he’s also by preference and skillset a false 9…the exact same position as Dempsey. He’s become a serviceable hold-up striker, can do a serviceable job playing with his back to goal…but ideally Altidore would like to drop a little deeper, and ideally he’d like to play facing goal and make runs at people. That makes him Dempsey’s backup.

      If you’re going to play outside forward in a 4-3-3, you’d better push the line, be able to make intelligent runs off the ball, and you’d better be able to track back defensively and cover the outside back when he goes forward. And that ain’t Jozy’s game and never will be.

      Zardes can do that. Even Aron Johanssen can do that. Bobby Wood can do that. Jordan Morris definitely can. Deandre Yedlin, when deployed as a forward, is more of a pure winger who can unhinge a defense with his speed, but it’s obvious Klinsmann regards Yedlin in much the same vein as well despite the fact that Yedlin has zero finishing skills at the moment.

      I can almost promise you when Klinsmann makes some switches to the 23-man roster after Group stage, he’s going to trade out a midfielder for another striker. Specificially, I think he’s going to drop one of Bedoya/Morales/Zusi for Bobby Wood, probably Bedoya if Bedoya isn’t healthy. I don’t see any other switches unless Brek Shea is healthy…you could see JK drop Greg Garza for Shea.

      Let’s see if I’ve got it right…JK is such he never really bothers to tell people exactly what he’s up to, and if pundits and fans sometimes want to scream in frustration, Oh Well. Jurgen just does not care. But I suspect Jozy’s role henceforth is largely going to be super-sub and Dempsey’s understudy. And I suspect that the 4-3-3 is largely going to be the USA’s default mode going forward.

      JK seems to think in terms of steps and progression. He converted us from a stock-standard 4-4-2 bunker-ball team to a more fluid 4-2-3-1 mixed with a 4-4-2 diamond last cycle. Now you see him converting us increasingly to a pressing 4-3-3 team and I think he’d prefer it be a 4-3-3 without a target man, one that holds possession and builds from the back and has six mids and forwards who interchange and combine all over the park…you know, exactly like the German squad does.

      JK also thinks in terms of building depth, numbers, and the pool as a whole, which is why I suspect you see him consistently re-shuffling personnel and refusing to name starters. I know everybody would like to see him just name a consistent starting 11…don’t hold your breath. His MO is, he’s going to build as deep a pool as possible and ideally he’d like to be 3-4 players deep at every position so he has legit options based on form and fitness. Staying on the squad is always going to be a struggle, for everybody, and JK isn’t planning on allowing anybody to get comfortable.

      The only players who have been constants and have played every minute this Gold Cup are Dempsey, Bradley, and Guzan. I do think in a must-have game, Fabian Johnson is also a lock to start somewhere. Other than that, I think you’ve got 30-odd guys in the pool who need to bring it if they want to be in Russia.

      One thing I might note, just as an aside: for all the shuffling and experimentin’, the USA has now won six straight games and is unbeaten in its last seven…and when the USA takes the field in the knockout rounds, it will be with a squad who has split their minutes between 21 players (JK might even start Rimando for Guzan and make it 22), whereas the other squads will wobble into the knockouts with starters who have largely already played 270+ minutes in the last ten days.

      I can also almost promise you that now that we’ve got six points in the bank, Jurgen will be thinking about how to manage Dempsey and Bradley’s minutes and save their legs for the knockout rounds. We could see a lineup where neither guy starts. He’ll also want to get Morales an extended look, and I think he’ll also very much want to get Johanssen going. How that ends up looking is something I’m very curious about.

      • Yup.
        I was obviously being sarcastic about the constant wining about some nonsense I’ve been reading.
        You know, like 3 weeks ago when people were calling for Deuce to be flogged, disemboweled, drawn and quartered with his body parts sent to the 4 corners of the earth like William Wallace.
        One day, one of us will write a post in 500 words or less

      • Remember in January and February of 2014 when a lot of posters here said Dempsey should not be on the plane to Brazil and, if he were, he shouldn’t start any games because he was all washed up? Sheesh, the ignorance of some people.

      • The people who comment that JK plays favorites… I just don’t understand how they draw those conclusions. Ask Matt Besler about favorites.

        I am concerned about Bedoya though. He could contribute to this tournament. Is there news on his injury?

      • good write up Quozz, a couple things tho: bobby wood wasn’t on the initial 35 man roster so he can’t be brought in. not sure if he was on there or not but if not then he def can’t be brought in. re jozy at LW- he was an LW for NYRB in his younger days. he’s transitioned to more of a central striker but IMO he can still be serviceable at LW with CD in the middle. i also agree that JK is slowly moving to a 433 which i’ve noticed for a while and hoped as much. i do think he sits CD MB and Guzan, but i’ hoping he just gives Rimando and Yar-Bruh a half each in the next game to assess further. i could live with AJ, Wondo, starting up top for a meaningless game.

    • Bac, that might have been my favorite post on here ever. summed up all the sarcasm, snark and eye rolling that Ive been typing for a while on this site.

      well done.

  11. Total bull crap. Jk will not admit hes wrong…ever. This was Haiti ffs, what are we going to do against the likes of a Mexico? Send him home, bring in help and hope its enough.

    • For you I have this, not every game is the same. We are not going to play Mexico exactly the way we played Haiti or Honduras. This team played to the level of Germany and Holland recently (I know they were friendlies), so they have the potential to do better, and I know they will do better.

      • Something wrong here, I’m agreeing with you again. Despite all the warnings not to take Haiti lightly, the US seemed to lack intensity like they were taking Haiti lightly. Many teams tend to play to the level of their opponents and I think the US was guilty of this here.However, they never have a problem getting up for Mexico.

      • haha right? it’s almost as if El Comm was DEFENDING Jozy… crazy. pretty sure a pig just flew by my window.

    • +1. But even more than Lazidore, Zusi has been underwhelming. Opponents are going at him and beating him as if he’s not even there. During the Honduras game, Zusi came in fresh off the bench and one of the midfielders from Honduras (who had been in for the entire game) beat him in a one-on-one foot race to the ball. He has good skill but lacks the speed needed at the international level IMHO.

  12. I’m sorry. Why is JA on this team? The place for rehabing is back with your club team. Altidore is not so indispensable to this team that we had to have him, even injured? Next time we have another important tournament, leave the injured home were they can be treated, and bring the players who are fit enough to contribute.

    • The article kind of makes it sounds like JK’s using the Gold Cup to build Jozy’s fitness up for when he returns to Toronto. That’s not what’s happening – JK is using the group stage to build his best striker’s fitness back up for a Gold Cup final.

      If he isn’t ready by then, he shouldn’t play. But if Jozy looks better and plays an important role in the knockouts, then like 80% of the Jozy comments here will look pretty silly.

    • He helped setup Dempsey’s goal vs Honduras and should have had another assist vs Haiti. It’s not as if he’s limping up and down the pitch. He’s contributing, just not at 100 percent.

  13. Well, I hope that’s the reason. The one time I had a serious hamstring it really did take a long time to recover–it’s like the longest muscle in the body. When I had mine I thought it was healed, but re-injured it again when I went to run a 10 K. At least we’re okay with the subs we have.

    • they are tricky injuries too because to heal them you can’t run or anything. you just have to rest rest and rest some more. then you can slowly get back into it but during that time of no running it can kill fitness. not to where you’re out of shape but you defiantly still have to put in a lot of work to get back fit.

      and to pose a question to the hypberolic, biased Jozy detractors: Why did none of you point out the other USMNT players without their hand on their chest? just curious.

      • When I had my hamstring I tried to keep in shape by using a stationary bike and thought I was in shape. I found out it’s just not the same as running. ;You may think you are in shape, but you aren’t unless you are riding 50 miles or something. Riding for 45 minutes isn’t the same as running for 45 minutes.

      • exxxxxxactly, hammies and groin injuries are the worst because you may feel normal but the moment you start running a long distance it can re-injure very quickly.

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