Speaking from his Twitter account, Jozy Altidore has announced that there will be an announcement on his future at a 2:30 press conference tomorrow, adding a wink wink and telling us that the clubs first match is against Chelsea FC. Information from Tuesday had Altidore linked with Fulham and Hull City of the English Premier League. Checking the schedule against Jozy’s post would indicate that he has found a home at Hull City, team voted most likely to be relegated this season after barely escaping the drop last season. Now while another American International in the EPL will boost the position of American soccer on the global front, is it really a good move for the young American?
I think it is. After being sold to La Liga side Villareal by MLS side New York Red Bulls, Altidore found himself first on the bench then on the way out the door on loan to the Spanish second division side Xerxes. Altidore did not find much favor in either place spending the majority of his time on the bench in his first season abroad, but strong performances with the US Mens National Team over the past year has garnered interest from other clubs. The rumors circulating earlier this summer were that Altidore would find himself in Greece with Olympiacos, but when the loan deal fell through it was looking as if Altidore might find himself on the bench for another season.
This season is important for Altidore as he needs as much time on the pitch as possible leading up to next summer’s World Cup in South Africa. With Fulham and Hull City both interested in the young American it was hard to decide which club I would rather see him at. With Fulham he would most likely find the bench again behind proven players in the EPL, but at Hull City, a team who struggles to score goals; it looks more likely that he will find plenty of time on the pitch. This increased pitch time against quality opposition week in and week out should improve Altidore’s already impressive skill set, but if he was looking for a winning side to move to he may be sadly disappointed. As one fan on Twitter put it, “Jozy you know Hull is a s***hole!” I could not agree more, but playing time is playing time, and I would rather have the future of US soccer playing against quality instead of less quality sides or sitting the bench for another term.
Whether or not Hull stay up this season is not really the concern here, as I am sure the addition of one goal scorer will not make a big enough difference to avoid Hull’s fated drop back to the Championship. The main thing is that Jozy gets time on the pitch. He should have no trouble working into the lineup at Hull City, with his skill set and athletic ability. I am afraid he will burn out as many other Americans have when going to the EPL though. This fear is not to worry about though as he is reportedly set to sign only a one year loan deal, no details on whether or not there is an option to buy at the end, and if he does not cut it in the EPL he will just find himself back with Villareal at the end of the deal. Should Jozy impress though he could see himself do one of three things. Either sign with Hull full time, if there is a buy option attached to the loan. Earn himself another shot with Villareal, though they have a strong attack currently already which is why Altidore is being loaned in the first place. He could also have a good enough season to earn himself interest from other clubs that Villareal could sell him to, making some cash on their initial investment but losing a talented young player in the process.
So heading to the World Cup next summer the outlook is good. Most of our first team squad is playing their trade in Europe, and we have players in Europe who are actually seeing time on the pitch. While this does not mean more Americans will follow, it does open the door for clubs abroad to look in at the merchandise. I was not initially happy about the decision to ship Jozy to Hull City, but in delaying this article to think on the topic some, I have come to a conclusion. This is the best thing US soccer and Jozy could have hoped for leading up to the new season! He goes to a side where he will see playing time ahead of the World Cup, have quality opponents, and be plying his trade in a country where he can further his skills in the game.
Looking forward to the press conference tomorrow, I will now be happy to see Jozy become a Tiger. I wish him good luck this season and will be watching him progress against some of the best players in the world. The US is invading Europe, and little by little they will recognize us and the quality of players we are producing. So, good luck Jozy, I will be watching and hoping you get what you wanted out of this move.