On Monday, October 8, United States men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced the club's roster for its upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala. While most of the roster contains few surprises, Klinsmann left one important name off the list: Jozy Altidore.
I'm not sure that I follow what Klinsmann is trying to accomplish with this decision. Yes, I understand that Altidore has struggled in his six appearances for the United States this year. It's hard to imagine how one of Europe's top scorers could fail to score for the national team, but that has been the case for Altidore in 2012.
However, the United States hasn't been very impressive during World Cup qualifying. Klinsmann's team must play well in both matches to advance into the next round. That's why it doesn't make sense to leave Altidore off the roster in favor of Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon. Klinsmann's team needs someone who has been there for the U.S in the past.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with Johnson or Gordon, but I'll take Altidore over either one of them. Johnson hasn't been with the national team in close to five years, and Gordon has never even suited up for the Americans. That's how little he's meant to the national team.
Furthermore, I understand that Klinsmann has seen both Johnson and Gordon produce in MLS this season. They have been key performers for their teams. Yet I'm not willing to risk advancement into the next round of World Cup qualifying over two players who have never been a factor for the national team.
Look, I get it. Klinsmann is trying to send a message to his young striker, but I'm not sure what else Altidore has to do. He cannot prove anything more to Klinsmann by being held off the roster. Altidore certainly can't be expected to score more than he already has for AZ Alkmaar this season. He's tied for the Dutch league lead with eight goals; I don't see him improving any more than that.
One thing about this decision is clear: if the United States fails to qualify for the next round, both the fans and the media will likely focus in on Altidore's absence from the roster. I hope that's not what it comes down to in a week's time.
Derek Ciapala has been a fan of international soccer since the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994. His favorite moment in international football is Landon Donovan's last minute goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala or Facebook.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jurgen Klinsmann
- Jozy Altidore
- United States
- Alan Gordon