Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Altidore Still Not Grasping Role

As the United States prepares for its first match in the 2014 World Cup, Jozy Altidore still appears confused about his role with the club.  After netting two goals in a 2-1 victory over Nigeria in the U.S.' final warm-up prior to its match against Ghana, Altidore was asked whether the performance relieved any pressure resulting from a six-month scoreless drought.  Altidore responded that he felt no pressure and, therefore, felt no relief.

That response would have been fine, as it would have signaled that Altidore is comfortable in his role as striker, regardless of whether he scores.  The best strikers experience periods without points and the very best overcome such periods.

What is troubling about Altidore's remarks after the Nigeria game are the comments that followed the innocuous comment.  In subsequent remarks, Altidore stated that he is fine not scoring and that he does not need to score for the team to succeed.  "I contribute in many ways," Altidore noted.

Although it is true that Altidore contributes in many ways other than scoring--drawing extra defenders, distracting the opponent, creating space, and sometimes distributing, he is disingenuous in even suggesting that the United States does not need him to score for the team to succeed.  For the US to defeat world-class opposition, the kind they rarely face in CONCACAF, Altidore not only needs to score, he needs to dominate, drawing double-teams and doing all of the other things that he things normally suffice for him.  In short, for the US to succeed in Brazil, Altidore must prove he deserves the moniker that most observers believe he deserves--that of a willful striker.  Anything less will spell difficulties for the US in Brazil.

Up Next:  Making the Semi-Finals.

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