Nobody has a better set up than Jozy Altidore in Toronto. He gets to play next to the atomic ant, who commands so much attention and he gets to play in front of international team mate Michael Bradley, who can thread passes with the best of them. The much-acclaimed United States international striker has been sitting ‘on the brink’ for far too long, but injuries and perhaps a tad bit too much hype have hampered him.
After a troubled start at Hull City, Altidore went to Villareal in La Liga, where he never saw the light of day. That lead him to Sunderland, where the frustrations started coming to light. Despite playing over 2000 minutes for the Black Cats across two seasons, Altidore was only able to muster one league goal and one assist.
So he came home. Where he belonged all along. Except that it was in Canada.
In his first year with Toronto, which was just a half year, he scored 13 goals in 18 appearances. Finally the numbers that the United States had been wanting to see.
That gave way to massive optimism this year. Surely it is finally time for Jozy Altidore to commandeer a massive supply of goals and turn Toronto’s boundless potential into something solid?
Well, it didn’t start quite right. Altidore’s injury woes kept him out at the start of the year, but the 26 year old has since returned and in his first start, he grabbed an assist. Not a bad beginning. Now we all wait with eager anticipation to see what Altidore can do with a full year in a league that finally saw him reach his full potential.
Aside from that one assist, the early signs are positive. He has already scored four times for the USMNT in internationals, and given how hit or miss Altidore’s international career has been, that is another positive to add to the list.
Add to that the fact that we are starting to see Altidore utilize his size like never before. Any casual onlooker that sees Altidore on a soccer pitch acknowledges that he is a big man and should be able to physically dominate just about anyone. But in the past, that hasn’t been the case. At Hull, he won just 24% of his aerial duels. At Sunderland, 39%. In his first year at Toronto, 40%.
For a man of his size to be losing the majority of his aerial duels begs for questioning, but two things show that he is finally coming around. First of all, at each stop, that percentage increases and Altidore shows more aerial prowess. Plus, this year he has already won seven of his eight aerial duels. Early, yes, but still headed in the right direction.
There is a reason why the United States has been pumped about Altidore since he entered the footballing world. However, between injuries and a two year scoring drought, Altidore maintained that ‘will he ever turn it around’ mantra. But it was hard to ignore the fact that he also held the USMNT record for longest scoring streak (5). When he had it, it was glorious. When he didn’t, it was the opposite.
Whatever hope could be drawn from international blips could not be drawn from his club career – until he returned home. Now that he is back in Toronto, sitting pretty in a potential offensive juggernaut, this could finally be the year that Jozy Altidore puts it all together.