May 30, 2012
EAGER TO PLAY
Altidore finally shows up with the U.S. team
By Michael Lewis
|Jozy Altidore was stopped by his his team AZ Alkmaar from shwoing up at U.S. training camp.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
LANDOVER, Md. -- They finally found a way to stop Jozy Altidore from scoring. Actually, his Dutch team, AZ Alkmaar figured out a way. The Dutch First Division team refused to release the former Red Bulls forward to the U.S. National Team until this week, even though its season had been finished.
Altidore could not particiapte in the 5-1 shellacking of Scotland on Saturday night..
Needless to say, that did not make U.S. national coach Juergen Klinsmann very happy, having one of his starters miss 13 days of training.
"We’re happy Jozy finally joined the camp," Klinsmann said on Tuesday. "He wasn’t released by his club AZ Alkmaar before yesterday, which made me very angry and it put Jozy in a very difficult position."
Difficult position, indeed.
It was not known whether Altidore would be used against Brazil in an international friendly at Fed Ex Field on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.
"I'm in fine shape," Altidore said. "I tried to stay fit as best as I could when I was away from the team. I feel good. Anyway I can help, if called upon, I will do that.
Altidore spent a week with family in Florida. The National Team gave him a training program.
"I felt fine," he said. "A week away from soccer is not going to kill you, especially when you play 11 months during the year."
Lost in the spotlight of Clint Dempsey's dominating season for Fulham was Altidore's breakout year. He scored 19 goals.
"I know this is just the beginning," he said. "I want to keep going further and further."
Asked if he was satisfied with his performance, Atlidore replied, "I always felt that I could show better. We're starting to see that now."
Altidore improved as a player.
"It was a long year, but it presented different challenges," he said. "For me, to come away on top of it was good."
And the challenges were?
"Going to a new team, your first season. being in the team, going out of the team. That's always difficult. Going through droughts without scoring. That's difficult."
Especially when Altidore lost his starting position for a few weeks. He said that coach Gertjan Verbeek "felt he was going to give somebody else a chance. But this is football. You're never going to go a season like this and keep your place. You just have to stay focused and to try show each and every day that you deserve to play."
As for Brazil, Altidore realized it would be a difficult match.
Altidore said he expected "a fast game. Probably a little physical of course. A game we'll probably have to keep the tempo high. We can catch them a few times on the break.
"It's a different opponent. Its going to ask for different things throughout the game. I just hope the boys are fit. "