AMSTERDAM – Now that a trying season with Sunderland is done, US striker Jozy Altidore is eager to firmly establish himself as Jurgen Klinsmann's top gun heading into the World Cup.
The 24-year-old has bagged eight goals in 11 international starts since last May, but his Premier League struggles during that span have compelled some USMNT observers to question whether the 2010 World Cup veteran is ready to lead the line in Brazil. Altidore will arrive at prep camp this week aiming to provide a positive answer.
"Getting a chance to play in a World Cup is what we all dream of, it's what we play for," Altidore told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Los Angeles. "I'm itching to get started.
"First, I want to make sure I'm part of that 23. I'm looking forward to working hard and being one of those guys [Klinsmann] can count on in Brazil."
Though he managed a highly disappointing sum of two goals in 38 appearances across all competitions for Sunderland this season, Altidore says there can be a silver lining. In effect, he feels as though he's just gotten out of school.
"It was a tough season, but it was a good learning experience for me," he said. "There was a lot of things I had to get acclimated to; we had a coaching change, it was a different style of football.
"I look forward to next year and trying to improve, but now I'm with the national team. In a lot of ways, it's going to help me in this camp because I played against a lot of people who will be there this summer."
Of course, Altidore has not suffered the same adjustment period when he meets up with his US teammates. There, he knows the drill from day one.
"I've been playing with some of these guys for 5-6 years, we all know each other very well," said Altidore. "That's what is special about this group.
"Now, we have brought some good young players into the group, so it's going to be a challenging camp. I think that will help us going forward."