England has not been a happy hunting ground for Altidore. His previous attempt to take the Premier League by storm also back-fired, with just one goal in 28 appearances for Hull City during the 2009-2010 season. But let’s put this into some sort of context. Altidore’s choice of Premier League clubs has not helped his cause. Both struggled in England’s top flight, where the defense will have been busier than the strikers, and service will have been limited.
After all, Altidore can score goals, and the stats back up that statement. A paltry two goals from a combined total of 56 appearances at two struggling clubs in England, compared to 39 from 67 games when in the Eredivisie in the Netherlands.
And it’s that kind of form, coupled with his performances for the national side, which has convinced Klinsmann that Altidore has a part to play in Brazil.
”We have worked with him the last three years, [moving] a much younger player into a more mature player,” Klinsmann added. “He’s played very, very good games for us, scoring very important goals for us, but he is still building. Jozy is in his development phase. You know, Jozy is not built yet, Jozy has not reached his potential yet.
"So our job as coaches is to help him reach his highest potential. I think the next two months will be a big part of that next learning curve for Jozy Altidore. I always said that he has so many upsides, he hasn't shown it yet in different places maybe. I think we saw a big part of those upsides in the World Cup qualifying and in some friendlies as well.”
That kind of talk will be music to Altidore’s ears, which have been subjected to jeers and taunts during his uncomfortable year in England. Opportunity knocks for the former New York Red Bulls player who, like most goal-getters, thrives on confidence and knowing you have the support of your coach.
“We coaches are looking forward to having him in camp and to bring our influence into this whole next step, and we believe that Jozy can play a very big World Cup this summer in Brazil,” Klinsmann continued. “Obviously, he has to work hard these next couple of weeks to confirm our trust and confirm our support, which we think he will do absolutely. I think he's still a player to be developed. He’s not there yet."
As a former striker himself, Klinsmann can spot an attacking talent when he sees one. And at a World Cup, you need players of all shapes and sizes, for all kinds of opposition. You need options. The ability to mix ‘n’ match is vital, and Altidore’s size and strength cannot be ignored, particularly with Ghana in the USA’s group.
Being named in the 30-man squad is, of course, only the first step to Brazil, but after the season Altidore’s had, there will be few in camp with more of a point to prove.