Moving Forward: Why Jozy Altidore Isn't Cutting It for Team USA
I was hopeful for Jozy Altidore, I really was. He seemed to be the answer to the question that U.S. soccer fans had been asking for so long: Where is our legitimate threat at forward?
So it saddens me to say, he most certainly isn't.
Altidore has had plenty of time and ample opportunity to prove why he belongs within Bob Bradley's 4-4-2 formation, and he has squandered his chance almost every time.
Altidore, who attempts to play like a holding forward, though he lacks the ball skill necessary to do so, is rarely a factor on any game.
In both the Argentina and Paraguay games, Altidore did his usual disappearing act and vanished for most of the tilt.
When he does show up, he's lackluster and ineffective.
This is even more obvious when a rising star like Juan Agudelo is right beside him.
Agudelo was all over the field against Paraguay: Checking to the ball in open space, presenting himself as a target for the midfielders and putting his body on the line, drawing countless fouls.
But where was Jozy? Forget using his body to play outside the 18, to blast shots on target while keeping possession of the ball, because that's not him.
But he isn't an opportunist, either.
All of Agudelo's goals have been as a result of him taking advantage of the situation, ball hawking and cleaning up the scraps.
That's the sign of a true scorer.
Altidore is seemingly never around the ball when it does find its way into the box, and doesn't ever seem to place a head or a foot on a probing pass to the inside.
To his credit, if it wasn't for the even more deplorable Jonathan Bornstein, Altidore should have been handed a ball directly to his feet for an easy shot on goal, but it wasn't to be.
So what is there to do moving forward? What are the options?
There seem to be a few.
First, an option that we saw in the Paraguay game: Moving Dempsey up top with Agudelo.
This is an iffy situation, because it presents some issues on many fronts. It leaves the left wing stripped, a place where Deuce's creativity and ability to draw the foul are invaluable.
However, it's a position that Dempsey can play, and has played very well this season with Fulham.
He has the ability to hold the ball, perhaps like no other player on the roster, and coupled with Agudelo's ability to find the back of the net, this could be a very effective move for Bob Bradley and his squad.
Another option is placing Charlie Davies up top with Agudelo. This is a move that could gain some momentum considering Davies current form in the MLS (though form seems to be irrelevant to Bradley, see Buddle going into the World Cup) and the lagging Altidore.
The issue I see with this is that both are far too similar. They present many of the same options and both have similar body types and playing styles.
Though I like this pairing more than any that features Altidore, I feel this it is too similar to provide anything useful for the U.S. going forward.
The wildcard is Teal Bunbury. Having had very minimal time with the U.S., it remains to be seen what he can do up top.
I like the prospects of placing him with either Agudelo or Davies, because he is a bigger body that is capable of playing a more holding style.
If Bunbury can get healthy and make the squad in the future, this would be a fun combination to see.
As usual with Bob Bradley, none of these scenarios are anything but wishful thinking, as we will probably be forced to watch the same roster mistakes over and over again.
I'm certainly hoping that Altidore continues to develop and reach the potential that many of us thought he had, but as of right now, it isn't looking that way.
One thing is for certain, the US needs to continue to develop and progress at the forward position, if we can do so, it's only a matter of time before we find a pairing as capable as any in the game.
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