Forward Jozy Altidore (pictured) has scored six goals for the USA in 2016. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)
MIAMI SHORES, Florida -- Since returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Copa America Centenario, United States international Jozy Altidore has gone on scoring rampage.
The Toronto FC striker has connected for nine goals and two assists in 13 Major League Soccer matches, including four goals in his past five appearances.
Now the question is whether Altidore can remain healthy for major competitions. He also missed virtually all of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the entire 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup due to hamstring injuries.
"The biggest part there is that [Jozy] trusts himself, that he trusts his own body, his own situation because over the years when you have those issues they’re kind of implemented in the back of your mind," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "Hopefully, he can have the ability to delete all these thoughts and then become just a very consistent performer for his club team, but also does well for the national team.”
If that is the case, then Altidore could be a dangerous weapon, especially after scoring three total goals in World Cup Qualifying wins over St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago in September.
The 26-year-old is third on the USA’s all-time scoring list with 37 goals, 16 of which have come in WCQ play – a team record.
He can add to his all-time total when the Americans visit Cuba on Friday and host New Zealand four days later in Washington, D.C.
When he was asked about whether his recent pace has translated into the best form of his career, Altidore bristled just a bit.
"I don't know why people keep asking me that," he replied. "I scored 40-something goals one year. I thought that was pretty good form, but I guess not."
Altidore is happy to be reunited with former Sunderland teammate, 20-year-old midfielder Lynden Gooch, a first-time invitee.
"I have not seen him in a long time," the former AZ Alkmaar standout concluded. "He's come along really well. It's exciting to see him out here."