This Video Shows Why Jozy Altidore is the USMNT’s Most Important Player

Soccer Features Jozy Altidore

Who is the most important player for the US Men’s National Team?

It is a debate that has garnered much opinion since Landon Donovan stepped away from the team in 2012. Being the captain, Clint Dempsey is a popular pick. Others say it is Michael Bradley. Both are worthy of the title, for sure. But, if the 2014 World Cup taught us anything, it is that Jozy Altidore’s name should be at the forefront of this conversation.

Unfortunately for the USMNT, Jozy’s 2014 World Cup was over after just 21 minutes. Four years of peaks and valleys with club and country were flattened into nothing by a sever hamstring injury. In Altidore’s absence, the USA attacking play suffered greatly. Without a strong forward to hold the ball up, the USMNT became a shell of its best self.

Altidore’s career has been a series of hot and cold streaks, and he’s always been a player who splits public opinion. His Sunderland struggles drew mocking jokes and ridicule from all angles but Jurgen Klinsmann stuck with Jozy as his starting striker. Why? Because when Altidore’s in form and confident he’s a dangerous goal threat no matter who the competition is. At only 25 years old, Jozy ranks fifth on the all-time USMNT goals leaderboard trailing the legend that is Brian McBride by only three goals.

No matter how frustrating, you have to take the good with the bad from Jozy. When he is at the top of his game he is as important to the American player pool as anyone. In the video below, I showcase his game against Denmark. In an overall team performance that was lacking, Jozy stepped up in Clint Dempsey’s absence and almost stole an away result against solid European opposition. While he didn’t have a flawless game, he lead the line and was the most dangerous US attacker on the field. Here are my notes on his game:

0:47 – As a target striker Jozy can be hit or miss. On this occasion he’s able to win the ball in the air and knock it into space perfectly for his strike partner.

1:00 – While it looks like simple play, connecting with his teammates and getting his wing players involved is a big part of his hold up play.

1:14 – He shows great strength to keep the ball on the sideline, but needs to show better composure with his pass.

1:48 – A nice run off the back shoulder of his defender, he uses his strength and pace to get around his man. Then he unleashes a hellacious volley with his weak foot beating the keeper for a great goal.

2:32 – A really nice first touch to set himself in a good attacking position. Unfortunately he lacks options to pass to and settles for a weak pass across the top of the box to no one in particular.

2:45 – Jozy’s work rate is called into question sometimes. His effort usually mirrors his form. When he’s into the game he’s working really hard like this nice tackle on the edge of his own box to disrupt an attack.

3:33 – Great off-the-ball movement opens up a gap in the defense and a fantastic ball by Michael Bradley finds Jozy one on one with the keeper. Instead of finishing it off, he makes the unselfish play and sets Johannsson up for a tap-in goal.

4:03 – His hold up play is not perfect. Sometimes he gets muscled off the ball too easily.

4:18 – A lazy grab at the arm of an attacker leads to a petty yellow card. Moments like these cannot happen in a competitive tournament.

4:30 – Lastly, he finishes of a pretty good match with some nice combination play with Rubin that doesn’t materialize, but it’s a nice touch and pass.

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