Age: 27 (born Nov. 6, 1989)
Club: Toronto FC
Club Number: 17
National Number: 17
Born: Livingston, NJ
US Soccer History: U17, 2005 U17 Championship, U20, 2007 U20 World Cup, U23, 2008 Beijing Olympics, Debut 2007, First goal 2008 vs Mexico (Friendly), Currently 3rd on All Time Goals Scored behind only Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan
Jozy Altidore won U.S. Player of the Year conducted by Futbol de Primera just edging out the young phenom Christian Pulisic. Pulisic for many US sports fans has been a highlight of the year. He’s playing great ball at the tender age of 18. This age is normal for many world stars to begin to emerge, but several years early for most US soccer players. Many fans see him as a beacon of hope for where US soccer could be headed getting younger stars like him to develop early and also that he may be one of the greatest ever players and an anchor for future World Cup teams. I’m one of those fans, who’s ecstatic about Christian Pulisic, what he’s doing right now on a top flight German club and Champions League team, as well as what he’s shown so far for team USA. That being said Jozy is playing some of the best soccer he’s ever shown us and there’s a lot of reasons to be excited about this as well.
Altidore seems to be a polarizing player in US soccer. There are some fans who think he’s our best and only real striker, while others think he’s unreliable and needs to make room for Bobby Wood and young rising stars like Jordan Morris. He’s third all time in goals scored for team USA and has often been thought of as our loan striker, when he went down in the 2014 World Cup many believed our hope of survival in the group of death went with him.
Jozy came up playing on the U17 team that also featured Michael Bradley and USMNT defender Omar Gonzales. He was drafted by the NY Red Bulls in 2006 and started his career mostly away from the team finishing up his high school diploma. He made his professional debut that year and within a month had his first professional goal at the age of 16, scoring a winner against the Columbus Crew. Altidore scored three times in seven appearances over the coming weeks, quickly becoming a fan favorite. While still sixteen years old he scored NY Red Bull’s only playoff goal against rival DC United, becoming the youngest player in MLS history to score a playoff goal.
In 2008, Villareal signed Jozy away from the NY Red Bulls for $10 million and became the largest transfer fee ever for an MLS player. He was the first ever American to score a goal in La Liga only two months after joining the club. However, his spell with Villareal was far less than glamorous. He was loaned to Xerez, a Segunda Division team, for a time, but due to a surgery never played a minute for them and then was loaned to Hull City in the English Premier League. Altidore scored one key goal for them in a win over Man City, which played a role in there relegation battle. Unfortunately in another key battle game, he was sent off when tangled with another player and never really left a lasting impression on the club. He did one more short loan spell with Buraspor in the Turkish League before a key signing to AZ in the Dutch Eredivisie.
This transfer proved vital to Altidore’s development and recovery as a premier player for team USA. Once again within two months of joining the squad he made his debut as a sub and scored his first goal for AZ. Two weeks later he made his first start and scored a brace in a 4-0 blowout. A few days later in the UEFA Europa League qualifying match, Jozy added another brace for AZ and he continued to pour in the goals both in club play and tournament play tallying 22 goals in his first campaign with the Dutch club.
The next season he started where he left off, opening the season with a brace against reigning champion Ajax in a 2-2 draw. He netted another brace the following weekend and continued to pour on the multi-goal games for the entire season to include three hat-tricks that season. He led AZ to hoist the KNVB Cup for the first time in 31 years. Altidore was the first ever American to be named in De Telegraaf’s “Team of the Season”.
Hungry for a greater challenge, Sunderland purchased Jozy after his second season with AZ for a $13 million transfer fee. Once again Jozy scored within one month of joining Sunderland in a late comeback win for his team. His scoring slowed dramatically after that and in his next 51 appearances for Sunderland he was only able to put two more goals away.
In January 2015 Jozy was signed by Toronto FC for Jermaine Defoe and an undisclosed transfer fee. Altidore scored a brace in his first game for Toronto to continue his legacy of early goals when joining a new club. He’s played well for Toronto and led the team to a MLS final that required Stephan Frye to make an amazing save on one of Jozy’s headers to keep the game level. Toronto lost in penalties, though Jozy buried his to start the shoot out.
Though Altidore has been injured on a few occasions, he has played many games for team USA sitting just outside the top 15 in appearances and will likely enter the top ten by the end of 2017 at still a young age of 27. Jozy is third in US history in goals and trails Clint Dempsey who may still have a few left in him by 15 and Landon Donovan by 20. Certainly a lot of goals, but at his age he has a chance to pass the two US legends. He has 10 assists which again puts him just outside the top 10 and has plenty of time to climb into that group as well.
Love him or hate him, Jozy will certainly go down in history as one of the best US players ever. At 27 and a crucial age with up and coming stars like Bobby Wood, Christian Pulisic and Fabian Johnson playing great soccer overseas it could be prime time for Altidore to add to his legacy. With beautiful goals like this in crunch time for Toronto FC, there’s plenty to be excited about having Jozy Altidore at the top of our attack: