Altidore impressing in MLS

2015-03-18 11:39
Jozy Altidore (Getty Images)

Chicago - Jozy Altidore's triumphant two-goal debut for Toronto in a Major League Soccer win at Vancouver was a welcome sight for US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of two European friendlies.

The 25-year-old striker struggled in an 18-month stay at English Premier League side Sunderland, managing only one goal in 42 league matches before being sent to the Canadian club last January in exchange for Jermain Defoe.

Altidore's brace in his return to MLS, where he began his career for the New York Red Bulls in 2008, is a confidence builder as the Americans prepare to play at Denmark on March 25 and at Switzerland six nights later.

"Seeing Jozy Altidore getting on the scoring side of it right away was very important," Klinsmann said in comments posted on the US team website.

"He had a tough time the last 18 months in the Premier League and for him it's an awesome feeling to start right away with two goals. We all know what Jozy can do when he's healthy and fit. Hopefully he's off to a fantastic season."

Klinsmann, who last October said US standouts Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley had to show their return from European clubs to MLS squads had not diminished their skills, said he saw "a lot of promising stuff" in this month's start of the MLS season, including three goals in two matches for Seattle's Dempsey and Mix Diskerud scoring the first goal for expansion team New York City FC.

"It was a huge opening weekend for MLS. It was awesome to see full stadiums all over the place," the former German coach and star player said. "It has been an exciting start."

Klinsmann must mix European-based talent in the heat of league seasons there with US-based players just starting their campaigns in building a squad to face the Danes and Swiss.

"We are going to bring in a very strong roster into Denmark and Switzerland," he said.

"It's a bit tricky obviously because MLS has just started and it's early in the season, so those players don't have a rhythm yet.

"European-based players are in a full rhythm and the Mexican-based players are in a full rhythm, so we will bring what we believe will be the strongest roster into these two friendlies.

"It will be an interesting mix. We are there to learn, but also to get results."

That means looking at younger talent that might be helping the Americans in 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic qualifying as well as bolstering national team efforts this July in the Gold Cup, North America's continental national tournament.

"I'm looking at all these youngsters and thinking who can come through these periods and develop the fastest possible in order to make himself a strong competitor for the senior group," Klinsmann said.

"So this is a great time now, and we can't wait to get these games going."

Read more on:    mls  |  jozy altidore  |  soccer


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