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SBI View: Jozy Altidore solidifying his status as the USMNT’s best striker


In the time since Jozy Altidore last appeared for the U.S. Men’s National Team, a few forwards have had the opportunity to claim the top spot on the depth chart.

By scoring five goals in his last four games for Toronto FC, Altidore has once again established himself as the top striker in the USMNT talent pool.

This isn’t a shocking revelation since the 29-year-old is the most accomplished forward of the players at Gregg Berhalter’s disposal.

Altidore was kept out of the first few camps of the Berhalter era because he was working his way back to full fitness after recovering from ankle surgery.

Now that he is in form, Altidore is forcing his way back into the USMNT conversation with the Concacaf Gold Cup two months away.

With 41 goals in 110 international appearances, Altidore carries more big-game experience than any combination of Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes, Andrija Novakovich. Josh Sargent and whoever else you want to throw on to the forward depth chart.

It would’ve been understandable if Altidore was healthy and left off the January and March rosters so Berhalter could evaluate the forward corps behind him, and that ended up happening anyway due to the Toronto FC forward’s injury.

In the March friendlies against Chile and Ecuador, Zardes was the only forward who stood out, and even he produced moments of quality in small spurts.

Jordan Morris couldn’t replicate his club form with the Seattle Sounders and Sargent was off with the U.S. Under-23 team in Spain.

Wood hasn’t scored since November in Germany and Novakovich is rounding into decent form with Fortuna Sittard with three goals in his last five games.

None of those players have produced enough to stake a claim to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

Now with Altidore putting together a scoring run alongside Alejandro Pozuelo in the TFC attack, he has put everyone else behind him once again on the depth chart.

Although Altidore is one of the players still around from the disaster in Trinidad and Tobago, he is still the best forward option.

The goal for the USMNT is to win the Gold Cup.

It isn’t to be competitive and prove progress has been made with young players. That is what the first four games of the Berhalter era were for.

No one is going to shout praise from the rooftops if the USMNT loses to Mexico, Costa Rica or another top Concacaf nation in the knockout round of the Gold Cup.

Berhalter has to choose the best 23 players from his talent pool to conquer his major competition in charge.

Altidore should not only be the first forward written into the squad list, he should be one of the first overall players alongside Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Tyler Adams, Zack Steffen, John Brooks and Weston McKennie, if he is healthy.

Sure, one of the other forwards could catch fire over the next two months, but none of them have consistently proven they can score against quality opposition at the international level.

A healthy and in-form Altidore does nothing but benefit the USMNT moving forward.

That’s why he needs to be in Berhalter’s starting XI for the Gold Cup opener against Guyana on June 18.


  1. Never had much of an opinion either way about Jozy. He does have a history of disappearing or getting injured when needed the most.
    My problem is the way this piece was written we should just automatically hand over the No. 1 striker position to Jozy. Jozy and Zardes seem to be the only 2 players in the conversation for the MNT. Coach GB does not seem too high on position competition. He has his starters
    already in mind, is teaching them his system, and will only go with these players for 2019. I would argue that there has NOT been. “a few forwards have had the opportunity to claim the top spot on the depth chart.”
    We know enough at this time what Zardes brings to the table. Yes, he deserves a GC invite. So does Altidore with his current form. But let’s not count Morris as the 3rd striker, or Ramirez. Woods needs to remain in the player pool but is not currently in top form. Nova is playing regularly and is scoring. He also should be invited to GC. Sargent and Weah are huge building blocks for the future and need to be exposed to this new 3G system asap, especially having scored for the Sr, Team in 2018. Depending on the outcome of the U20 WC there should also be another striker to bring in and start getting opportunities.
    I predict another MLS-heavy GC roster and that 3G will play the same starting 11 for the vast majority of the tournament. I do not expect any competition for playing time or roster consideration and more importantly, honest and fair player competition at this time.

  2. nice opinion piece, joe tansey. i enjoyed reading it.
    my two cents: i’m a ‘form guy’ and jozy is ON FIRE. normally i would say play jozy except i trust ggg’s decision on this. there is a new system on the field now, did jozy have time to catch up on ggg’s powerpoints? if not and he zags when the the rest of the team zigs he’ll look pretty silly. just sayin’.

  3. This article is correct in saying Jozy is the best forward in the present US MNT pool. His down-side is that he does seem to be pretty susceptible to injury. I expect that will only get worse as he ages. There is still a gap in the US talent and I really think it is Sargent, Weah or Busio who will eventually be the top guy; but not right now. By 2022 it will be a much more interesting dynamic.

  4. He looked pretty dang good against the Sounder last weekend.

    I never really felt that he could score against the best of the best like a Dempey could.
    That isn’t the question though is it? The question is who can do the best against the best of the best and all the rest. The answer is, the US has never really had anyone that was the true number 9. The speculation that Sargent, Weah (my pick ) or others….is just that, speculation, until they can prove it.
    The US will have a great keeper and mid. Need to find out who fits in to help that win.

  5. It will be interesting to see how Berhalter uses Jozy. Agreed that a fit, committed Jozy is our best striker, and it’s not really close. That said, I don’t think Jozy fits very well with what I’ve seen the striker do in the US new system. Say what you will about Zardes, but he is a relentless hustler, constantly making runs that rarely get rewarded, constantly pressuring defenders. Holding up the ball to get others in the attack. Let’s face it, those have never been Jozy’s strengths. Jozy is unselfish and has improved with holdup play, but he was always best with a second striker, or playing a wide forward in a 4-3-3. And he gets frustrated way too often and easily if he isn’t directly involved in play, causing him to drop his energy level. But all that said, he’s a freak athlete, who is already high on our all-time scoring list, and the USMNT desperately needs goal-scorers. Maybe Berhalter can get the best out of him.

  6. Many haters. I think Jozy has had a bad rap these past 5 years. Primarily put up top, asked to hold up play, and hung out to dry with no midfield support.
    His hold up play was very underrated last cycle.

    He’s had his faults don’t get me wrong.
    But I think he would thrive in Berhalter system.

    With that said, I argue that Zardes gives him competition. Zardes touch has really improved and that assist to CP last game was world class.
    (Not saying he is world class but that first touch on the long ball was).

  7. “Jozy Altidore solidifying his status as the USMNT’s best striker”…….haha, yeah that just means “….the USMNT are not winning trophies anytime soon”?

    He does look “MLS-good” tho to be honest, going toe-to-toe with Will Bruin in the TFC / Seattle game……?‍♂️

  8. Jeez, what can I say. If a striker with over 110 caps who has absolutely zero WC goals and who also only scored 2(both in the Panama 4-0 at home before the TnT game) goals all Hex last time is our best striker just shoot me now. Racking up goals in friendlies an against Concacaf minnows doesn’t mean his is currently a better player than other striker options. No club in Europe would rather have Jozy Altidore for and intern’s salary over Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, or Bobby Wood. If Celtic’s or Werder’s manager were to announce tomorrow that they had sold the right to their future strikers to bring in Jozy to even be a backup or reserve team player those managers would have hell to pay with their board. Why are we off our rocker as a nation we can’t see talent clearly when the rest of the world does? Jozy had his day its long passed we need to move on.

    Goals in MLS are not the same as goals in a top five leagues or UEFA Champions League. Outside of friendlies Jozy has never once scored a goal against Mexico or Costa Rica or in a WC. His best goal ever was against Spain the Confederations Cup final and what a goal too, that was his best though. He never did squat with Hull or Sunderland in the Prem. We need to be giving time to the future not washed up has beens who can make a great hold up pass but can’t score goals in the Hex or WC. His time has passed, pass the torch. Keep our eyes on the future and our youth not the veteran leaders who couldn’t qualify out of Concacaf.

    • FYI, many people consider the Dutch league as close behind the top 5 and this year Ajax made the knockout rounds of the CL. It is not uncommon for a Dutch team to do so. In two seasons, in all competitions while with Alkmaar, Altidore scored 51 goals, 39 of which came in league. A numb er of the others came in the Europa League. As for the World Cup, I guess you forgot that he missed all but about 10 minutes because of an injury early in the first game in 2014. Yes, he did not score in 2010. Messi and and Rooney also have played in a World Cup without scoring and Ronaldo scored only once in 2010. While Jozy is no world b eater, we don’t have anyone better at this time. That’s the reality.

      • He’s played in 5 WC games and zero goals. Time to move on and deals with the growing pains of the youth movement. We are regressing with the type lineups and callous. It’s not like any of these veterans were perma starters for a Champions League team, they never were ‘great’ to deserve the deference they are being given. We can do soooo much better. Joey has two good years in a scoring oriented league and I loved those years and used to catch as many as I could on Espn3 back then so yes I remember. I’m saying it’s time to move on. The group of Jozy, Bradley, Howard failed to qualify, any other nation would move on. He peaked at AZ same as Bradley peaked at Chievo. We’re better than MLS has beens guys.

    • Since turning 21 he’s played 23 WC minutes so it seems a little ridiculous to criticize him so much for not scoring in the WC. Yes, perhaps he should have scored in 2010 but that was a team built around creating opportunities for Dempsey and Donovan and then defending and hoping to hit on the counter. As far as the last Hex goes he had 2 goals and 4 assists in 9 games, that’s a goal or assist in 2 out every 3 games he played, and Panama made the WC so yes they count.

      • Hopelessly doomed to repeat the past. Move on from Jozy guys he doesn’t score. You are arguing that our top striker is a guy who doesn’t score. Goals win games.

    • Neither Wood nor Sargent can get of the bench, so that’s a no thank you atm. You trash MLS vehemently and thensay fans who don’t trash the league have on rose colored glasses, but ironically enough you come off as a euro snob for players that don’t even merit being talked about for the senior team right now…but i guess because they are in europe, no matter if the sit the bench they should be involved, right??

      • That’s right remember when we started Robbie Findley over Eddie Johnson in 2010. Yeah making a Euro top 5 league roster and playing sub minutes is light years better in class than playing every single minute in MLS with the lone exception of an exceptional young U21 player making waves at a young age. If your 23 and can’t make it out of MLS then if we want to be competitive we need to look elsewhere. The Morris’, Lovitz, Roldan, Arriola, Zardes, Trapp, etc, etc, please spare me. Call me names all you want. I’ve read your trash comments all over ASN and SSFC for years you actually think MLS plays competitive soccer relative to Europe and SA. I’m just a realist who one day hopes we see that type of super competitive and beautiful soccer in MLS and hope my ATL club continues playing well (this year oh well) but we have to aspire to better players than the poor touch and passing that seems to permeate throughout MLS lifers. If their U21 with promise thats one thing but if their 23 and not getting interest from overseas and better leagues they probably aren’t good enough for our NT. If we want to beat the Belgiums and Hollands and eventually Germanys and Brazils we have to hold our NT to better standards of club level than MLS.

        Call me names all you weren’t. You were one of the guys saying how everything was going to be okay and BA was undefeated as a NT manager all the way up thru June of 17. I was the guy saying we had real issues in terms of both play and tactics and personnel callups and bias. I never wanted to be right back then or now. But please remove your Rose colored MLS glasses.

  9. For all of our collective groaning over the years and our fixation on what Jozy is not, this article is dead on in the sense that it highlights exactly what he is.

    He’s the only forward with a consistent goal scoring record for the US. He is ahead of the current pool of players in terms of actually producing versus intrigue or potential for both club & country against one or the other.

    Altidore is not a world beater or an elite international level striker who is going to scare the thunder out of defenders across the globe. He won’t dribble through multiple defenders, or wow with his first touch. He has decent vision and can pick out a pass. His hold up play isn’t exceptional, and his finishing is at times inconsistent. However, when stacked against Jordan Morris, Zardes, the relatively untested youth of Tim Weah & Sargent, and the hapless Bobby Wood he is clearly the top choice right now.

    We know what he isn’t, but what he is could and should be effective for the Gold Cup. Hopefully, by a potential Copa America and subsequent World Cup, the USMNT will have had one of the young guns emerge as an elite, true striker. Until then, Jozy has got to be our guy.

    • I generally agree with you, but Andrew Wooten scores a goal every other week in 2.Bundesliga and we have not seen him in a US kit for a long time. Novakovich is on a scoring run at the moment and, unless I’m mistaken, Berhalter has yet to call him into a camp.

    • I don’t know, i would argue his first touch and ability to beat defenders one v one is damn near elite, especially for a player his size. You won’t hear me complain about anything else you sad because i think it’s spot on, and the sooner we as fans realize it, and not continue to let the failures of last year cloud our judgment going forward, the better!


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