JOZY Altidore could be running into his best form just in time for the World Cup finals reckons USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann, who says that the striker is showing signs of shaking off the disappointment of his debut season at Sunderland.
Altidore arrived on Wearside almost a year ago as a hot property with the the £6m signing having scored 31 goals in in 41 games for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league and eight goals in 14 appearances for the national team.
But the striker had a miserable first season at Sunderland scoring just once in 31 Premier League appearances.
And his contribution had tailed off so much in the final few months of the campaign that he was dropped altogether from the Capital One Cup final squad in March and lost his place in Sunderland’s starting line-up.
Klinsmann has been monitoring the 24-year-old closely though since he arrived at the USA training camp and believes that the striker is on the up again.
“We’re already got a couple of good answers from Jozy the last few weeks here,” the USA coach insisted from the squad’s San Francisco base.
“He’s sharp, he’s hungry and he’s scoring.
“With every day of work, he puts himself into a better position with more and more confidence, so we’re going to build on that.
“We want him to work more every day, and then a striker has got to solve it himself as well.
“Psychologically, you have to leave the entire season behind.
“You have to go out there and be hungry and once you get that opportunity you have to put that ball in the net.
“He’s on a very good path - he has already forgotten what happened during the whole of last year.”
The USA camp is currently mired in some controversy at the moment following Klinsmann’s surprise decision to cut American hero Landon Donovan from the 23-man World Cup final squad.
Former Everton star Donovan is not only his country’s leading all-time scorer but also Major League Soccer’s all-time scorer and the 32-year-old’s omission will only increase the pressure on Altidore in Brazil.
Klinsmann has named ex-Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey as one of his four strikers for the World Cup but it is to Altidore that America will look for goals.
No USA striker has scored in a World Cup final since South Korea in 2002 when Brian McBride netted against Mexico and Everton keeper Tim Howard says the USA have to push Altidore all the way.
“He’s a big player for us,” said Howard. “We have to ride him.”