The Benjamin Buttonification of Jozy Altidore

June 26, 2010 - South Africa - Football - United States of America v Ghana FIFA World Cup Second Round - South Africa 2010 - Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg, South Africa - 26/6/10..USA's Jozy Altidore looks dejected at the final whistle after failing to qualify for the quarter final.

Jozy Altidore may be twenty, but he plays more like a canny veteran than a spry newcomer. When a striker makes a name for himself at a young age, it’s usually because A) he’s fast B) he has a stunning shot and C) his ball control skills are above par. While Altidore has A and C down pat (at least for a large striker), he doesn’t seem to have a nose for the goal. It was telling that during Hull City’s corner kicks last season, Altidore was rarely marked by opposing squad’s best defenders.

On the other hand, Altidore has mastered a skill that tends to come late in a striker’s shelf life – holding up the ball. The reason for his backwards development could be seen during Hull City’s matches last season. Aside from the perennially injured Jimmy Bullard, Hull didn’t have quality central midfielders, leading to sequences where Jozy only saw the ball if a long pass was booted to him. The youngster was forced to learn how to hold off defenders while waiting for support.

To become the Drogba of the West, Altidore must become more proficient with the ball at his feet. This is why the rumors of a transfer to Ajax are encouraging. Ajax’s youth system is generally regarded as the best in the world, and their commitment to developing players extends to the senior side. Even if current manager Martin Jol leaves, the Dutch club is sure to hire a manager that will bring the best out of Altidore.

Gringos, will Altidore ever be able to imitate Drogba’s physicality, ball skills, and poacher’s instincts?

5 Comments Post a Comment
  1. bensten says:

    I’d honestly never thought of the Altidore/Drogba comparison but I think it’s a nice framework to think about him in. In our last podcast I mentioned how much hope I have in him to keep developing. I think Ajax would be a wonderful move for him. He’ll get high quality football and coaching (as you mentioned) but will be a little out of the spotlight, which I think hindered him a bit in EPL and La Liga.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Jozy is like the veteran Shaq.

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