SUNDERLAND striker Jozy Altidore may be running into form at the perfect time after breaking his goal drought at the weekend.
The 24-year-old scored both the USA’s goals in the 2-1 friendly win over Nigeria – as many goals as he scored for Sunderland in the entire 2013-14 season – and will now head to Brazil in a much more confident frame of mind.
The forward scored in the 32nd and 68th minutes – his first a tap in, his second a finely worked goal which national coach Jurgen Klinsmann hailed as “world class.”
Those goals showed awareness – his first, stabbing home a low cross into an open goal from the edge of the six-yard box; his second confidence, the striker running onto a ball over the top, cutting inside Norwich’s Joseph Yobo from the left before drilling it past Vincent Enyeama at the keeper’s near post.
Those finishes made light of a barren run which extended back 27 games.
They were Altidore’s first goals since December 4, when he scored in Sunderland’s 4-3 defeat by Chelsea at the Stadium of Light.
They were his first international goals since October 11 when he notched against Jamaica.
But Altidore insists confidence has not been an issue.
“To be honest, I felt fine before the goals and I feel fine now,” he said.
“The biggest thing was to work – it was great team play.
“We’ve played some good football in the last few years and that was typical of that.
“The most important thing is, especially after being part of this team for such a long time, is how we perform.
“And going to a tournament like this, we want to make sure we’re performing at a level that will give us a good chance.”
The USA’s run into these finals have been far from smooth with Altidore’s goal-less streak coming in for scrutiny and criticism and the Klinsmann being questioned for his decision to leave the iconic Landon Donovan – the USA’s leading scorer – out of the squad.
But three wins out of three in their warm-up friendlies cannot be a bad thing and with Altidore back among the goals, this could be an interesting finals both for the Americans and for the Sunderland striker.
Certainly Everton and USA keeper Tim Howard sees Altidore’s contribution as of crucial importance.
“He’s our horse,” Tim Howard said after the game.
“We’ve made no bones about that. It’s no secret.
“We have to ride him.”