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Ones to Watch – Jozy Altidore
July 2, 2009, 9:49 PM
Filed under: Ones To Watch | Tags: , ,

At 19 years old, I don’t think many can say they’ve put the ball past Iker Casillas, scored a hat trick for the National Team, and become one of the hottest young prospects coming out of America.  Yes, Josmer “Jozy” Altidore, the American born striker of Haitian decent, is one to wach.

After growing up the youngest of four in Livingston N.J, Jozy Altidore quickly was recognized as football talent at just age 5 when his parents became worried he could hurt members of the other team with his shot.  They made him play with the 8 year olds.

Since then, Jozy has played at the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL.  Other talents like Bobby Convey, Landon Donovan, and Oguchi Onyewu have since become products of their pedigree.  Altidore was drafted 17th overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft by the MetroStars (Red Bulls).  His debut came on August 23rd against DC United in a 3-1 loss to DC United.  At age 16, he scored his first professional goal against the Columbus Crew on September 16th, 2006.  It didn’t take long for things to click into gear for the teenager, as he scored three times in seven appearances.  He would eventually tally 15 goals for the Red Bulls, one of which made him the youngest ever player to score in an MLS play-off match.

He was called up for the U-17 national team that took part in the 2005 FIFA World Championships in Peru.  But it was his performances in the U-20 side that played in the 2007 FIFA World Cup that he turned heads.  His touch on the ball, physicality, cleverness and finishing quickly earned him acclaim as the U-20 men put in a superb performance in the tournament.  Altidore netted three times in group play (including a brace over Brazil), helping the Americans advance to the knock-out rounds, where he netted once more against Austria to make him the leading scorer for the United States in the tournament.

After putting in a solid performance in Canada, Jozy was called up to the Senior National team only days after his 18th birthday.  It’s been here that he’s gained the most respect from around the world.  With seven goals in only 16 appearances, Sam’s Army are licking their lips in anticipation of seeing Altidore develop.  He’s the youngest player in US history to score a hat trick at the International level.  Oh, and did I mention, his goal against Spain set the team on course to upset the number one team in the world?

After being picked up by La Liga side, Villareal, Jozy was loaned out to second tier, Xerez.  To see his talent wasted at Xerez is a little stunning to be honest.  I can’t imagine the Europeans can avoid his form much longer.  Not to mention, the debacle for International players almost all the time is that they aren’t performing at an International level the same way they perform for club.  How is it that Jozy figured in every game for the United States on track to the Confederation’s Cup final, winning a penalty against Italy, turning Villareal team mate, Capdevila, expertly before putting the ball past Iker Casillas, and has yet to make an impact at Villareal?

I’ve been glad to see and head Altidore’s name being thrown around the European rumor mill (albeit little) with possible interest from Everton and Fulham (where he could link up with American Clint Dempsey).  Othan than that, it’s been quiet for Jozy which could honestly be a good thing as it may mean Villareal are looking to hold on to him.  And here is why…

Altidore is only 19, but they way he uses his body, you’d never guess it.  I watched his goal against Spain a few times, not because of the goal, but because of the he turned Capdevila.  I got to see his boot flailing out for the ball as Jozy muscled past him.  He already has a cult following amongst American football fans, but I have a feeling he could come to figure well in this coming season.  If he can’t find time there, it may be worth finding first team football elsewhere.  But, again, I’d have a hard time watching them bench him for much longer.

He’s got the size, the skill and the belief (I know because I follow his Twitter.  We’re tight).

Jozy Altidore can make a difference for Villareal Hull this season, and will go on to become paramount for the United States National Team in coming years.

Walk tall, kid.