5 Clubs Where Jozy Altidore Could Restore Confidence
One year ago, fresh off a 31-goal season with AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands and having scored in four straight games for the United States men's national team, striker Jozy Altidore transferred to Sunderland in the English Premier League in a deal reportedly worth $13 million.
However, things in England did not go smoothly for Altidore. The coach who had signed him was fired, the team found itself mired in a relegation battle and Altidore managed to score just two goals in 39 appearances.
Then, this summer, it looked as if Altidore had returned to form during his play with the United States men's national team in their lead-up to the World Cup. He played well in the side's send-off matches, topped by a brace in their final warm-up game against Nigeria.
But once the tournament began, Altidore only saw 23 minutes of playing time as he tore his hamstring in the first half of the team's opening match against Ghana and was forced to sit out the rest of the tournament.
At the end of last season, there was much talk about whether or not Altidore would stay with Sunderland, but since his World Cup injury, that transfer talk has died out. And now that the World Cup is over, Altidore's focus will return to his club form.
Here are five clubs where he could restore his confidence.
ESPN's Jeff Carlisle reported Tuesday that Altidore will be returning to Sunderland on Thursday in preparation for the 2013-14 campaign.
On the one hand, staying at Sunderland could be the perfect place to restore his confidence, as succeeding there would prove that the 2013-14 season was just a fluke, or the result of Altidore adjusting to play in England.
On the other hand, staying at Sunderland is also a risky move as the team could easily find itself in relegation trouble again. The team also played a lot of games last season with a single striker and already has established forward Steven Fletcher and promising youngster Connor Wickham on the books.
New York Red Bulls
It would be perceived as a white flag of surrender by many, but one place that Altidore could restore his confidence is back in America with his former club, the New York Red Bulls—where his career started.
Popular or not, playing in Major League Soccer has become a lucrative option for American players—especially those with high name-recognition, like Altidore.
It's tough to pass up that kind of a pay rise.
One option for Altidore to restore his confidence and remain in Europe would be to return to his former club, AZ Alkmaar. The deal could prove beneficial for all sides.
Altidore would get to return to a familiar environment and one where he has seen success. Sunderland would get to offload a striker who may not even be used very often in the 2014-15 campaign, and AZ would get a proven commodity—and likely for a lot less than they sold Altidore for just one year ago.
New York City FC
New York City FC isn't set to begin play in MLS until the 2015 campaign, but that means, should Altidore still be with Sunderland come the January transfer window and things not be working out, the club could be the perfect option for a winter move.
NYCFC has been linked with everyone from Frank Lampard to Xavi Hernandez, as reported by Pradeep Kalamegam on Yahoo Sports, while the signing of David Villa has already been confirmed, and a move for Altidore could only bolster the big splash they are apparently looking to make in MLS in their inaugural campaign.
Another Premier League Side
A middle ground, that would bridge the gap between Altidore leaving Sunderland but not "failing" in the EPL, would be a move to another Premier League club.
The danger, of course, of a move to another club in England is that it would either be to a club desperate to avoid relegation—where Altidore would likely find himself with many of the same problems that existed at Sunderland—or a club where Altidore would be unable to break into the starting XI on a regular basis.
But if Altidore could make a move to another EPL club and find success, he could finally prove to the rest of the world what many USMNT fans have believed for years—that he has the potential to become the top striker in a top-four league.