See the caption in Jake’s image. It’s true. That’s what our supporters relentlessly chanted throughout Jozy Altidore’s dark, goal-free days with Sunderland. As we look to Defoe, Borini, Lens and the rest to deliver the goals he couldn’t, a Co Durham exile in Toronto, Bill Taylor, has had a chance to track Jozy’s progress since the move to Canada …
Had it come from the likes of Messi or Ronaldo, it would have been hailed as a classic piece of cocky one-upmanship to put a full-back in his place.
But Jozy Altidore? It was hardly credible. Except seeing is believing …
It’s been described as a “sublime nutmeg” – a back-flick, at that, to really rub it in – inflicted upon Paris Saint-Germain and former Chelsea defender David Luiz in a recent friendly between Brazil and the USA.
If that wasn’t enough to make Altidore Man of the Match, it was certainly the Move of the Match. It hardly mattered that Brazil went on to a 4-1 victory.
A lot has happened to the man the Mackems loved to hate since he took his leave of the SoL at the beginning of this year, having scored one goal in 42 games for the Black Cats and only two in a total of 70 Premier League matches [beg to differ, Bill – I always thought he was loved, exasperating as his failure to score certainly was – Ed].
For starters, he netted twice in his March debut for Toronto FC against the Vancouver Whitecaps in North America’s Major League Soccer – our equivalent of the Premiership although, to be honest, the level of football is closer to League One.
It can be very entertaining to watch, though, and TFC are no slouches, as evidenced in July when they hosted Sunderland and, though the Cats won 2-1, dominated the game. A lot of fans on both sides were disappointed that injury kept Altidore off the field.
TFC and Sunderland have a couple of things in common – red, white and black in their strip and a strong, bordering on rabid, fan base. Who, in both cases, often go home disappointed.
Toronto is currently fifth in the 10-team MLS Eastern Conference and it’s touch-and-go whether, for the ninth consecutive year, they’ll miss out on a place in the end-of-season playoffs. (No need to explain how it all differs from the English setup – you get the picture.)
As an ESPN commentator put it: “There’s an automatic sense of dread around the club this time of year.”
Like TFC, Altidore has had his ups and downs this season.
He’s spent a fair amount of time sidelined by a hamstring injury. He was sent off Aug 1 after losing his temper and aiming a kick at a defender as TFC went down 3-1 to the New England Revolution (no worse a name than Sheffield Wednesday or Tottenham Hotspur).
But he’s also scored 10 goals, most recently putting two away in TFC’s 5-0 whitewash of Orlando City on Aug 22 and another the following week in a 2-1 win over Montreal Impact.
He seems to be earning his keep. Certainly few on either side of the Atlantic can be regretting the deal that saw him swap places with Jermain Defoe.
When DeAndre Yedlin was undecided about moving to the SoL, he took his doubts to Altidore, who put them at rest, calling Sunderland “a great club… great people”.
If Yedlin lives up to expectations, Josmer Volmy Altidore may have done Sunderland one last big favour.