Jozy Altidore has gone from goal-shy enigma to attacking workhorse for the US national team over the past three months, and USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard believes the big striker will carry the squad's scoring burden all the way through the 2014 World Cup.
Altidore has been nearly unstoppable since breaking an 18-month goal drought in his country's colors with a clinical volley against Germany on June 2, netting important tallies in each of the USA's three World Cup qualifiers in June. That helped seal last month's transfer from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar to English Premier League club Sunderland, a move with an undisclosed transfer fee reported to be as high as $13 million – which would break Altidore's own record for the highest fee ever paid for a US player.
Speaking to the media in a conference call on Thursday, Howard said he has no doubt that his USMNT teammate will prosper in his second stint in the EPL, a competition he himself has mastered over the past decade.
“Jozy's been in great form, not only just recently for the national team but also last season and the season before, over in Holland,” said Howard. “Strikers, that's what they get paid to do: bang goals in and get on hot streaks.
“I don't think he'll have any problems at Sunderland, in fact I think he'll do really, really well.”
Though Howard joked that he'll be wishing Altidore has a bad day when the Black Cats meet his Toffees, he believes a solid return to the Premiership will be critical for preparing the striker for a pivotal role when the US – who are on the verge of booking CONCACAF's first World Cup berth – head to Brazil next summer.
“Hopefully he doesn't play against Everton, but the rest of the season will be good for him to keep in that good form,” said Howard, “because heading into the World Cup, he's our moneymaker, he's the guy we have to ride all the way.
“So I look forward to him having a great year.”
Some observers have professed doubts about Altidore's ability to keep up his prolific scoring rate in Sunderland's pacey, direct style and 4-4-2 formation after his time as the spearhead of AZ's 4-3-3 in the open, highly technical environment of the Eredivisie.
Howard holds no such concerns, however.
“He'll do well in the Premier League,” said the Everton goalkeeper. “He's a big boy, he's got good pace, he likes to get in front of the goal and finish. And he's strong enough, particularly in the Premier League, to hold balls up and bring the team into play.”