BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, October 9, 2012
So the USMNT roster is now out and the big story of course is the absence of Jozy Altidore.
Speaking to the media after the roster announcement US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed frustration with Altidore over his performance the past 14 months with the US national team and also in the team's practices.
Here's the problem. Altidore is leading the Eredivisie in scoring and (not counting Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan who are midfield/forward hybrids) the US does not have any other forward who is close to Altidore's ability.
Altidore is not just scoring goals for AZ Aklmaar but he's also scoring goals of immense quality too. The talent is obviously there and the US team needs that talent
Now I'm not going excuse Altidore in all of this. His infamous deleted tweet was immature. Perhaps he does deserve to be sent a message from the US head coach. But that punishment should be delivered in person and not through isolation from the team.
There is always the option of having Altidore in camp but benching him for the games to send the message. At least Klinsmann could keep the communications going that way.
By not calling Altidore and keeping him in Holland, the controversy continues. The US team has scored multiple goals just three times out of 18 games under Klinsmann. The team needs goals not distractions. By not calling in the top Eredivisie scorer at this important time will shift a great deal of attention to his absence, not the important games.
Also, it's important to take into consideration the situation Altidore is in this year and how he got there. AZ Alkmaar's head coach Gertjan Verbeek is a known as being a no-nonsense disciplinarian. Yet under Verbeek's approach, Altidore has thrived. This further adds evidence that Klinsmann should at least bring Altidore into camp even just to bring discipline. It's an approach that works.
The current strikers called into the US team were the big topic of discussion. Alan Gordon, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan are all aging. They should be more than enough to get the necessary points to advance to next year's Hex but players like Gordon, Johnson, and maybe even Gomez are not likely to play a role in the World Cup. There needs to be some focus on the future and Altidore does offer that.
It's clear that Altidore's performance with his club and whether or not he is with the national team are not related. It's a matter of their relationship and Klinsmann's relationship with Altidore needs to be fixed and fixed quickly. Omitting him doesn't solve anything. It just puts it off until a later date.