GLASGOW, Scotland – They didn't find the back of the net, but US men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted he could field Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson as an attacking duo from the start in future, after the pair’s performance in the team's 0-0 draw with Scotland.
Altidore started from the beginning, initally as a lone striker, while Johannson was introduced as a second-half substitute as Klinsmann shifted the system to accommodate the two strikers on the same field. The US had some of their best looks of the game following Johannsson's arrival on the field, with the young forward bringing an element of unpredictability to the US attack and seeing an 85th-minute effort flash just wide of the goal.
“I’ve told people for two years now about his quality,” Altidore told reporters of his second-half strike partner. “You can see from his touch that he’s so comfortable in tight areas. I don’t know what position he plays, because he can play up front and in the hole as well. He’s such a clever player and creates for others and himself. The game opened up when he came on."
Speaking to reporters at Hampden Park, Klinsmann said the partnership between the two players is on his mind, adding, “That’s something we’ve been working on. Even from the beginning, when we’ve been bringing him on as a sub.
“Aron is fresh to our team and is getting comfortable in the group. I think everyone sees the qualities that he has. So it’s good to see that process of development. Now if we want to field him with Jozy from the start we can. He has the confidence to carry out that role if we ask him to.”
That confidence can come not only from an increased role with the US, but from the fact that Johannsson has bagged 14 goals across all comeptitions this year with AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Altidore, on the other hand, has not been as fortunate.
The 24-year-old has struggled to adapt to life at Sunderland since his summer move from AZ and is still looking for his first Premier League goal of the season. A change of manager at the club capped a turbulent first few months for Altidore in northeastern England, but Klinsmann isn’t concerned by the striker’s form.
“Overall, I think he put in a good performance,” said the USA coach. “He’s battling up front against two strong center backs and he gave them a real workload. Obviously it’s better if he can get three or four clear-cut chances and he puts one in, but tonight he didn’t have those chances so it was absolutely fine.
“I think I have a good feel for what goes through a striker’s mind if he goes through a difficult stretch, like Jozy has at Sunderland. He’s scored very important goals for us all year so it’s not a problem with us. I wanted to see his energy and the way he creates himself chances, occupies the two center backs, how he connects with his teammates and that is all there. That’s all good. Sooner of later, he will score the goals for Sunderland, I’m not worried about that.”