This must feel like Deja Vu for Jozy Altidore. The striker's club form is in question and his future is not guaranteed going into a summer where he is expected to lead the United States front line in a World Cup.
Questions abound about how a striker who only managed one league goal all season can lead the line for his national team in the Summer. Altidore replied to his critics as stern as can be, “I’m not concerned at all.”
Amazingly, despite being just 24 years of age, Brazil 2014 will be Altidore's second trip to a World Cup after being a part of the 2010 squad in South Africa. Back four years ago, Altidore was a young striker with big potential on loan at Hull City from Villarreal. He didn't perform in that spell in the Premier League and he is struggling again with Sunderland after a reported £13million transfer from AZ.
The critics have been unrelenting for the striker who have slammed his season as catastrophic. But for Jozy, it's all part of the gig:
“In your career in soccer, a lot of it is mental, man,” he told reporters at USMNT camp on Thursday. “You’ve got to stay strong in the tough moments, because there are going to be a lot of them. But in the good moments you can’t get too high, and in the low moments you can’t get too low.”
Altidore has every right to be confident when it comes to the national team. He's the main man up top for the Stars and Stripes and no-one is as good as he is at tucking away the chances made by Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.
He netted eight goals for the States in 2013 – four in crucial World Cup qualifiers – and earned his first career US Player of the Year award.
“We believe that Jozy can play a very big World Cup,” Jurgen Klinsmann said earlier this week. “Obviously he has to work the next couple of weeks to confirm our trust, which we think he will absolutely do.”
His national team manager shows Altidore the kind of confidence that his domestic boss does not. Gus Poyet doesn't know what's wrong with Jozy at the Stadium of Light whereas the German Klinsmann has no doubts over who is number one forward is.
Altidore may well be out of Sunderland this summer, but some good performances in Brazil could definitely see him given another chance.
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