After pulling up lame with a strained hamstring in the first half of his side’s opening World Cup match, Jozy Altidore has been ruled out of the U.S.’s next contest against Portugal and is expected to miss more games beyond that one.
The American soccer community has, predictably, pronounced the injury a disaster for the U.S. But is it really?
Joe Bianchino: How fitting, I think, in a column titled for a Shakespeare line, I open by referencing one of his many plays: Jozy Altidore’s injury is much ado about nothing.
Similarly, how fitting, in a column entitled “Sound and Fury,” evoking the thought of boisterous, outrageous opinion, that I also open with hyperbole.
Because Jozy Altidore’s absence from the U.S. lineup is nothing, but it is overblown. Honestly, and I’m not just saying this as the world’s only Chris Wondolowski fan, I don’t think he’ll be overly missed.
On paper, tactically, his injury creates a hole because the U.S. doesn’t have another pure striker with which to replace him, but on the field, I don’t think he brings enough to the side that he can’t be replaced. He’s a striker who needs precise service in order to use his size and strength on a team who can’t give him that service.
Pushing Bradley and Dempsey forward and yes, maybe, bringing in Wondowloski or another forward who may be better suited to creating for himself has always seemed a better option.
I just don’t think it’s the big deal everyone else seems to think it is.
Jeffrey Simpson Day: I understand your point, but I think it depends on what is meant by “big.” Because without Altidore, they can’t play the way they’d like to. So yes, it’s big. But is “big” meant to imply that their results will be massively and negatively impacted? Then, no, it’s not all that big.
But, teams have to give Altidore attention. Attention they don’t have to give Wondolowski or others.
Andrew Williams: To me, Jozy’s presence will be missed on Sunday simply based on opponent. Portugal is weak both mentally and physically, Altidore’s size and strength would have been an advantage for the U.S.
That said, though, his production can be made up for.
You start Wondolowski no questions asked. He is a striker that has scored goals on a consistent basis when getting his chance. He’s also not one that gets mentally weak after a few misses and seems to always create something out of nothing.
He’ll slide in well to the current lineup, especially with Michael Bradley who will rebound off a bad game against Ghana; he never got forward or held possession on a consistent basis, don’t expect it again.
Junior: Wondo sucks.
Joe Bianchino: Solid addition. Outrageous, and uncalled for, but solid nonetheless.
Jeff’s point about Altidore demanding more attention than others makes sense, and is, in fact, the first legitimate fear I’ve heard voiced regarding Alitodre’s absence.
Still, though, in bringing on a different striker – perhaps, Junior, Wondo – I think you’re getting, in welcomed change of style, much more than you’re losing in distraction. This team, more than ever with this defense, needs to possess and create, not just throw balls forward and hope – they’re not skilled enough to pull off the latter. Altidore is a fine throw forward and hope striker – when service is better than can be provided by his American teammates – but he’s not as creative, and the team as a whole is not as creative, with him at the top.
Honestly, even when healthy, I don’t think he’s the best option for the Americans. Pushing Bradley and Dempsey forward and letting those two combine with a more imaginative striker for possession and, in theory, goals, is, I think, a better strategy for the U.S.
I’m telling you, the greatest trick Jozy Altidore ever pulled was convincing the world he’s the U.S.’s best option. He’s not. So, no, I don’t think the injury is that impactful.
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing – Shakespeare
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