As often as possible I'll be checking in with full reports on Altidore's play with Sunderland. So if you missed the game or just want to rehash it, this'll be here for you whenever a match day opens itself so kindly to me.
Jozy Altidore won nearly every cross that came his way and consistently beat his markers on the turn Saturday in Sunderland's 1-0 home loss to Fulham.
He combined well with Stephane Sessegnon. The problem for Altidore, though, was the kind of balls with which he was asked to win the game.
The service was fine. Altidore was constantly targeted, especially from the right flank late in the game. Yet too often those crosses were hit after hesitation and sailed toward Alitdore in the middle of a settled defense that double-teamed him from the early going.
Rather than tracking down balls in transition or a more fluid situation, he was asked to work from stops and starts as play dawdled in Sunderland's attacking corners. Altidore still routinely beat Brede Hangeland and Aaron Huges in the air or even settled 40 yard long balls on his own.
But Fulham's defense was bunkered in around him and the open teammates he found ran out of space, ideas and options.
As a result, the Black Cats lost a game they dominated, finding no reply for Pajtim Kasami's 52nd-minute header off a corner kick.
Best look: In the 73rd minute, Emanuele Giaccherini's shot was blocked into Altidore's path. It was a half chance and Altidore did well just to stay onside. Maarten Stekelenburg was quick off his line though, and Altidore barely had time to swing his right foot at the ball. Clattering into Stekelenburg took the goalkeeper out of the game.
Most impressive: Altidore settled a long ball atop the 18-yard box in the 86th minute, turned, worked through three defenders and got a shot off as he fell to his left from about 10 yards out.
-Sessegnon was surely Altidore's favorite teammate today. The attacker from Benin wasted no time taking Altidore's layoffs and running straight at the Fulham defense. This got Altidore's train-like frame darting toward goal and Fulham had no answer for it. The final ball was just lacking.
-In the first 20-plus minutes, Altidore shaded underneath Sessegnon and it didn't work as well, though again, he could not be stopped on the turn.
-For the rest of the first half, Atidore cheated to the left in a more 4-4-2-like setup and found more space to run at defenders. His teammates noticed and 46 percent of the Sunderland attack came down that side.
-He played a slightly more central role than he's had recently with the national team. Sunderland plays with more direct, traditional wingers.
-Altidore tracked back well in the 93rd minute, fouling Kasami 50 yards from his own goal.
Final Stats (team total)
Shots: 4 (21); Shots on goal: 1 (3); Fouls drawn: 2 (14).
Altidore will have to get used to playing with sparser, less dynamic service, but he is quite clearly the club's go-to guy.
Player Rating: 7
- Jacob Klinger