Jozy Altidore is an enigmatic striker. His brawny build and physical power make him a nightmare for defenders with his back to goal, and his ability to hold the ball up and bring teammates into the play is as good as any in the world. While questions have been raised about his commitment and output, Altidore seems to have found his proper rhythm under current Stars and Stripes coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Young Altidore made history when he moved to Spain’s La Liga in 2008 to try his luck with Villarreal. But the dream of becoming the first American to star in one of Europe’s top leagues faded as he found himself shipped out on a series of season-long loans. He revived his fortunes with a move to the Netherlands and AZ Alkmaar, where he scored 39 goals in 67 appearances and helped the club to a rare Dutch Cup crown. His prolific form in the Lowlands brought a much-anticipated move to English Premier League side Sunderland at the start of the current campaign, where Altidore has, once again, struggled to find consistent playing time or form.
After being dropped by Klinsmman for a pair of games early in the Brazil 2014 qualifying cycle, Altidore regained his focus. He ended a long scoring drought and showed the kind of intensity that makes coaches drool and defenders lose sleep. He refined his game over the course of the CONCACAF qualifying Hexagonal, adding positional sense and increased work-rate to his bag of tricks.
While sharpening his own game to a razor's edge, he expects the same from his mates in the US side ahead of his second FIFA World Cup™. “We’re at our best when we’re battling together as a team,” Altidore told FIFA.com. “We need to be a hard team to beat.”