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Swinging and missing

On the Schnide: Jozy Altidore Still Zero for 2014

The American forward continues to struggle to find the back of the net, falling to do so in the United States national team's 2-1 victory over Turkey. Is anyone concerned about the performance?
BY Noah Davis Posted
June 01, 2014
5:44 PM
HARRISON, New Jersey—Another game, another goalless performance for Jozy Altidore.

It's been almost eight months since the forward scored for the United States national team, dating back to an October 11 match against Jamaica at Sporting Park in Kansas City. It's been a prolonged slump for both club and country and not even a trip to the state where he grew up could help.

"I love playing here, man," Altidore said after the match. "It was so good to be back here with these fans. I have a lot of great memories with these people. It would have been nice [to score] but at the end of the day we won so that's the most important thing."

Win the U.S. did, but the target forward didn't score. To be fair, Altidore looked better than he did against Azerbaijan, holding up the ball and making a few nice runs. But he was whistled for too many fouls and never adjusted to how tightly referee Slim Jedidi was calling the match.

American coach Jurgen Klinsmann had positive words for Altidore.

"What we all wish is that he puts the ball in the net. I was joking with him about that before the game. Overall, a very energetic performance. He keeps the whole backline busy. And that's what the other coach sees," he said, a reference to Turkish manger Fatih Terim, who singled out Altidore as one of the best American players on the afternoon.

"It is the Jozy that we want to see," Altidore's manager continued.

The forward's teammates backed him up as well.

"He's been fantastic," Geoff Cameron said. "He's working hard. He's getting on the ball. He's holding the ball up for us and allowing Clint and Michael to push forward and make those runs. It will come. I'm not worried. He'll step up in big games like he usually does. We all have faith in him."

Kyle Beckerman echoed those thoughts: "He's been doing a lot of dirty work and stuff that doesn't go on the stat sheet, but we all notice it on the field. If he continues that, I think the goal is only a mater of minutes and it will come."

And those are true statements. But Altidore looks out of sorts, desperate to score, needing the confidence boost a goal would bring. A dangerous Altidore is a dangerous U.S. team in Brazil.

One thing that is clear: Klinsmann sees Altidore and Clint Dempsey as his starting forwards in Brazil. The pair played all 90 minutes together, a decision the coach specifically addressed following the game.

"They need to fine-tune," he said. "They need to read each other blindly. That comes only over time. Purposely I planned that, even if I feel bad for Wondo and Aron not getting on the field. These two are dangerous. They are big-time players. Hopefully, they are making a difference for us this summer."

Klinsmann, a forward who undoubtedly understands a goal-scoring drought, continues to believe in his player. He thinks the goals will come.

"We wait for it," he said. "I wouldn't mind if the goal comes against Ghana right away."

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