LANDOVER, Md. – The final piece of the US national team roster has fallen into place, but for Jurgen Klinsmann it was a long time overdue, leading to some unusually strong words from the German coach.
"We’re happy Jozy [Altidore] finally joined the camp," Jurgen Klinsmann said in a Tuesday press conference. "He wasn’t released by his club AZ Alkmaar before yesterday, which made me very angry and it put Jozy in a very difficult position."
Who can blame Klinsmann? Altidore, who already has 13 career goals in a US shirt, was set to play an important role in the current stretch of five international matches for the USA.
But after missing 13 days of camp, Klinsmann admitted that the 22-year-old forward is playing catch-up when it comes to his match fitness, making him an unlikely starter for Wednesday night's match against Brazil at FedEx Field (8 pm ET, ESPN2, TeleFutura, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“It’s always a sticky situation," Altidore said on Tuesday about the club vs. country tug-of-war. "Nothing you can do. Everyone is always looking for their best interests. I’m just happy that we got it resolved and I was able to be with the team."
Altidore insists that he's in fine shape – "A week away from soccer is not going to kill you when you play 11 months in the year," he said – and he's professed himself ready to fulfill any role that Klinsmann asks of him against Brazil, a daunting match against a world power in which his goal-scoring exploits could be needed.
Overshadowed somewhat by Clint Dempsey's stellar season at Fulham, Altidore quietly had one of the most productive seasons ever for an American in Europe with 19 goals in all competitions for Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.
It was an "I-told-you-so" kind of season for the former New York Red Bulls starlet.
"For me, this is just the beginning," he said. "I’ve always felt I can show better and I’m happy that people are starting to see that now."
So what's the secret to what would seem to be newfound success for Altidore? It's simpler than you would imagine – elementary even, at least in the forward's eyes.
"I got a chance to play. I got a chance to play consistently," Altidore said matter-of-factly of his first season in the Eredivisie. "I just didn’t get one game. I got a few games in a row and I think when you do that, you start to get confident. And any player that's confident, you can do good things."
Now it's only a question of how many days he'll need before he can make a few good things happen for the US.