As Salut! Sunderland‘s resident Voice of America (soon to be relocated to Scotland), Robert Simmons was the obvious man to turn to for thoughts on our new signing Jozy Altidore – forget the “undisclosed fee” tosh from the club, he cost us £6m or so if reports are correct – and he has risen to the task. This was especially impressive since he was away on holiday, denied proper internet access and minding a large family …
Robbie’s first response was discouraging. “I’m happy to do it. But I’m on vacation this week and then out for a week with work after that so I won’t be near a computer and internet for 13 days. All I’ve got right now is my phone. Normally I’d love to do it, but I also realize it may be more time sensitive than I can work with.”
But he warmed to the challenge.
“With that said, I’m thrilled with the signing and I think his pace and power will give defenders trouble. He’s matured as a person as much as he has as a player since his stint at Hull. He’s more patient, works harder, and understands how to work as a team of 11 rather than as a striker working by himself. Those are my initial thoughts that I can get out while holding Baby Bridge and making breakfast for the rest of the family.”
Urged to offer more snatches between Baby Bridge and ensuring Mrs R didn’t think he was skiving, Robbie added:
“It’s just him (new baby) up now so this is as good a time as any.
“I remember first seeing him play in the MLS and being impressed with his size and technicality. Rarely does an American player posses both. I think our biggest issue as a nation in international football is that we don’t have the coaches and trainers to develop the technical skills of the gifted athletes who want to play the sport.
“Jozy had two things that helped him in this regard. He grew up in south Florida which has a strong Latin American community. He learned a style that most American kids don’t. Second, he got coaching and direction both in Holland and with Klinsmann on how to use all of his best attributes as a striker and not just rely on pace and power.
“He is much beloved by fans of the United States Men’s National Team, and I’ve already had close to 20 calls, texts, and emails about Sunderland from some of those fans. Expect Americans to be tuning in soon.
Klinsmann! Oh dear. Wonderful striker but haven’t refs got a bit more card-happy than in his day for – how can we put this delicately – cheating?
Robbie had vague reassurance to offer: “I can’t remember seeing him dive much. But don’t hold me to that!”
Credit to http://www.youtube.com/user/ussoccerdotcom?feature=watch for the clip
So far, so good. We could have done with more of Robbie’s thoughts but would not wish to see him in bother with his wife. So I looked again at the responses I received to my own piece on Altidore at ESPN. Most of these would be from US but not SAFC supporters:
The one thing he did do well at Hull was hold the ball up and draw a few PKs… He was 19 then and this time around should be much better. I expect 7-10 goals his first season at Sunderland in the EPL and a few more in other competitions. Nothing spectacular but solid.
Agreed and wishing him well. The experience should help the US heading in to the WC.
i think the main growth in altidores game is although he thrives w service (who doesnt?) he has taken on way more leadership responsibilities at alkmaar after a transfer heavy summer last year which saw little reinforcement on the offensive side of the ball, that combined w injuries to key starters made for a frustrating year, and yet altidore consistently worked and created space for himself making it easier to get him the ball, and when he did get it scored. that ethic was never there at hull and the transition from villarreal’s reserves was too big of a jolt for a 19 yr old, who growing up in the states never had the level of footballing know how that a youngster in europe might have….he’s a late blooming talent like dempsey was and other americans will continue to be so long as they cant root the infrastructure down early enough w the right coaching….good move for sunderland, he will be di canio’s boy
I feel bad for the USMNT (US Men’s National Team) because he was poor in his last EPL stint. If he loses confidence in what is a much harder league than in Holland, it could put the USMNT back into a position where they don’t have a striker who can score come world cup time.
Dude he was 19 and playing for Hull, totally different than now.
If he can continue his form and notch 10-15 goals in the Prem his confidence will be even higher going into the WC.
Hope this Sunderland brass understands that Jozy can only thrive with a quality midfield behind him. The last thing he, or anyone needs, is regression.
Last words from the man himself:
* “It’s great [the prospect of playing in front of over 40,000 fans], it’s part of taking that next step as a player, to be able to play in front of a stadium like that is going to be really exciting – I hope they like what I do on the pitch. Everybody I’m sure is excited to get the season off to a good start and I’m no different, I can’t wait to meet the guys, meet the coaching staff and get acclimated as soon as possible.”
** “To my friends in Alkmaar, thank you so much for the past two years I spent with you all. From Day 1, you made me feel so welcome. I will never forget the amazing moments and memories created that I was able to share with you all. I have grown so much as a man and futbol player the past two years in Alkmaar and I owe it all to my fantastic AZ teammates and staff.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to represent such a great club and city. I wish you all nothing but the best in the future and I will never forget my time in the ‘City of Dreams’.”
– Altidore’s own gracious open letter to all at his former club
Good selection of views, good vibes from the man himself. You are very welcome, Mr Josmer Volmy Altidore.