CARSON, Calif. – Jozy Altidore turned a frustrating evening into celebration with his late-game winner against Canada, sending the US national team home from their four-week “January” camp in Southern California with another last-minute triumph.
The veteran forward sharply headed home Ethan Finlay's cross in the 89th minute Friday night at StubHub Center, procuring a 1-0 victory after the Yanks' dominant display had gone so long without reward.
It made a fine finish for the US and Altidore, who scored in both friendlies and has six goals in eight international matches since last summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Altidore hit the post in the first half, put a few chances wide after the break, and nearly chipped Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau in the closing minutes before his 33rd US goal – just one behind Eric Wynalda's third-best total – capped what was becoming a disheartening evening.
“It was one of those games where we felt we were always there, on the doorstep,” the Toronto FC striker said afterward. “That bit of sharpness wasn't there – the last pass, the last cross – but to win the game the manner we did was kind of fitting, to end the camp on kind of a real positive high.”
Finlay, who had just come off the bench a minute earlier, took a ball on the left flank from Michael Bradley, beat Doneil Henry on the dribble, then sent a cross toward the far post. Altidore rose high between Adam Straith and Samuel Adekugbe, powerfully nodding past Crepeau and into the net.
“He's always finding himself on the back post,” said Finlay, who is coming off a breakout season with Columbus Crew SC. “I've watched him do it against us when he's playing for Toronto [and] with the national team many times, so I know where he's going to be.”
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said it was the perfect way for Altidore to finish off the camp.
“He looked good the whole camp, he looked good [in Sunday's 3-2 win] against Iceland, and he hit the post already after, I don't know, 20 minutes of the game,” the legendary German striker said. “So we knew he gets his chances and, hopefully, sooner or later he puts one in the back of the net. I mean, he took a little bit his time.
“Good energy, he's hungry, he wants to prove himself, that this is 2016, 'this is my year.' He knows there's a huge [Copa America] tournament coming up in June, so he started really on the right foot this year. And he deserved that goal; he deserved it. He was trying hard, he missed a couple, then he put it in.”
Altidore nearly put the Yanks up in the 17th minute, taking a feed from Gyasi Zardes and holding off Steven Vitoria to power a shot past Crepeau and off the right post. The ball then caromed off Crepeau's back and again off the post before the goalkeeper collected it.
The US, which had a 17-4 shot advantage and forced Crepeau, masterful in his international debut, to make seven saves, took full command in the second half. Altidore had his chances and said he'd have liked to have “a lot of them” back.
“There were a few chances where I just made the wrong decision, and I was just made at myself and should have been better,” he said.