Welcome to the Premier League Jozy Altidore.
The 19-year old striker assisted the lone goal in Hull City’s 1-0 win over Bolton on Saturday as a second half substitute.
Altidore had been on the field a mere thirty seconds before turning his first touch in the Premiership into a game winner, setting up a goal from fellow newcomer Khamel Ghilas.
Having arrived from the United States less than 72 hours before the weekend’s fixture, it’s amazing he was on the substitute’s bench at all.
Manager Phil Brown said after the game that Altidore had only had one training session with the team after arriving from New York, where he was effectively quarantined due to difficulty obtaining a work permit and scares of swine flu that had plagued the USA National team after their trip to Mexico City for a World Cup qualifier on Aug. 12.
''It has been a tale of two weeks, that substitution,'' said Brown. ''The kid (Altidore) got back into London from an all-night flight from the USA Friday morning, 6 o'clock. We then flew him up to the KC by helicopter.
''I looked at the whites of his eyes, asked if he was fit to play and the answer was fantastic. He was raring to go. 'It was a calculated risk that we didn't start him.''
For his part, Altidore could have scored on a number of occasions for his new club, where he is on a season-loan loan from Spanish side Villareal. Shortly after his assist, Altidore found himself alone at the top of the box with only the keeper to beat. His effort over the oncoming Juusi Jaaskelainen landed just outside the post and would have made it the cherry on top of his memorable debut.
Before the final whistle, on another Hull counter-attack, Altidore received a cross from Geovanni at the top of the six-yard box with a defender on his back. In one motion, he corralled the ball with his right foot and turned away from the defender, getting a strong shot on goal, forcing Jaaskelainen into a save.
Brown said after the game that Altidore would have stiff competition for a starting spot, but that the competition is good for everybody. Altidore is perfect for the Premier League and his thirty minutes on the field Saturday proved how potent his size and speed can be.
The biggest concern for his new team and their supporters is his unproven nature. Early in his stint at Villareal, Altidore saw playing time, only to see himself spending more and more time on the reserve team as the season wore on.
For Hull City, Altidore needs to break onto the scoresheet sooner rather than later and impress in training if he wants to see playing time this season. Finishing one of his opportunities after the assist would have surely helped his cause.
Fears of his inability to find the back of the net have haunted the American teenager throughout his pro career. For himself, his club, and his country, he had better start finding that scoring way or he will simply become yet another athletic American forward who chokes on the biggest stage.
This could be the start of a breakout season for the young American and just in time for the World Cup next summer.
Source: ESPN Soccernet.
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