Hello and welcome to Meet The Yanks, our series breaking down the United States men’s national soccer team roster as they look to shock the world (and their own head coach) by winning the 2014 World Cup.
I have the honor of kicking off the series with a rundown on the face of American soccer: Josmer Volmy “Jozy” Altidore. Here’s all you need to know on the United States team’s star player:
Club: Sunderland (Premier League)
Hometown: Livingston, New Jersey (See? Good things do come from Dirty Jerz. Like me.)
National Team History: 70 appearances and 23 goals since 2007. His best year came in 2013 when Altidore totaled 8 goals in 14 games. He had a hat trick for the American squad on August 14, 2013 in a comeback 4-3 win over Bosnia.
He set the national record for consecutive games with a score at five in that game as well. Back in 2009, at just 17 years old, Altidore netted three goals in a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, earning him accolades as the youngest American ever to score a hat-trick during international play.
For good measure, here’s a gorgeous Altidore free kick goal. Watch as he paints the ball over a line of defenders into the corner of the net.
Fun Facts: Altidore is a Haitian-American. Before playing for Sunderland, Altidore spent time with the New York Red Bulls, Villarreal, Hull City, Bursaspor, and AZ. He scored his first professional goal at 16 years old with the Red Bulls.
What To Expect In The WC: Altidore is the best player on the United States team and will likely be the squad’s leading scorer in the tournament. The USMNT will live and die by Altidore and goalie Tim Howard’s play. If Jozy can’t score, the Americans will be hard-pressed to find success in group play and make it to the knockout rounds.
Altidore’s success in international play after leaving the MLS has proven he can shine on a bigger stage. Without the help of Landon Donovan, the best player and leader in U.S. soccer history, Altidore shoulders a much larger load than usual this year.