Jozy Altidore Talks Up USA’s World Cup Chances, Soccer’s All-Time Greats

The FIFA World Cup starts in two weeks. The tournament between the world’s best football teams usually takes place every four years in the summer. This year’s competition is taking place in Qatar, in the middle of the Persian Gulf, where due to the intense summer temperatures in 2022. the world championship was moved to November.

It’s also hot after 2021. summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) returns to global competition after an unusual four-year hiatus in 2018. world cup, and 2020 Olympic Games.

And of course, one of the USMNT’s biggest fanatics is none other than longtime USA forward Jozy Altidore. The 33-year-old forward played for the USMNT first team between 2007 and 2019, scoring 42 goals in 115 games.

Altidore said this week that he believes the current crop of American players…

“The biggest strength of this team is their ability to work together as a unit,” Altidore said, while hinting that striker Christian Pulisic and midfielder Weston McKennie are ready to shock the world.

Altidore is currently a member of the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer (MLS), which ended its season and playoffs this week. During his professional time, Altidore also paid tribute in the English Premier League
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Sunderland AFC League, as well as Villarreal in Spain and AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Throughout his career, the 6-foot-1 Altidore has been known as a combative forward who excelled in height, strength and aerial ability.

Off the pitch, Altidore is also quite the entrepreneur. He recently founded e-commerce company Footymarket, an online soccer platform, or “soccer community ecosystem” as Altidore likes to call it, that connects fans, coaches and players to an RE-commerce platform where members can buy and sell used gear and equipment.

VIDEO: Jozy Altidore one for USA against Costa Rica

“Families, coaches, teams, players and even soccer retail stores (all) have a lot of unused or even outgrown items that are still in great shape,” Altidore said of the platform. “We’re hoping to bring together people who might want to make money, help the environment and (offer) discounts to those who are underserved and in need.” So everyone wins.”

Altidore, who is currently represented by Paradigm Sports, explained that on his Footymarket platform, members set up a ‘locker’ as part of their account where other members can view and shop.

In addition, Footymarket will soon be announcing celebrity ambassadors as well as lockers. altidore adds that professional footballers “can offer exclusive game-worn or autographed gear to raise money that can be put back into helping those in need – especially registration fees, scholarships for underserved youth players or where it’s most needed.”

“Our goal is to eventually connect the entire soccer community as an inclusive ecosystem,” Altidore said, “so that everyone can help each other by connecting fans, players, celebrities and governing bodies.” It’s time to change the game.”

I caught up with Altidore this week to get his thoughts on the current state of football and the World Cup.

Andy Frye: The World Cup is almost here. After a tough few years, the USMNT appears to have a bright young squad.

Where do you see them against England in the group stage or against the likes of Belgium, Denmark or Uruguay?

Jozy Altidore: Yes, absolutely. I think the average age of the team is around 24 and there are more players in the top European leagues now compared to five years ago. I think it will be really important for them to get the points in the first game against Wales and that will give them confidence and momentum against England.

Most people will agree that England are favorites to win the group, but they have had a difficult six months and anything can happen, especially in one game at a neutral venue. The difference between the current USA team and Belgium, Denmark and Uruguay is experience. The core group of players from those teams have played together in three World Cup cycles and together have major tournament experience.

AF: Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie look like players who can provide versatility and balance. What role will they play? What other USMNT players might steal the show?

Altidore: Christian and Weston are the main members of this team and they will be the two guys that lead the rest of the group. But I would say the two players who aren’t always the first to be mentioned that I expect big contributions from are Brenden Aaronson and Yunus Musah.

I’d say those two guys have exceeded initial expectations with their club teams over the last 12 months. Brenden’s energy and ability to put defenders on the back foot will be important in the attacking third, while Yunus works really well in midfield with Weston and Tyler and links play up well.

AF: You have played in La Liga, Prem, Netherlands and also MLS. How is the game different in Europe and the US?

Altidore: I was able to experience MLS 15 years ago when the games were still played in college soccer stadiums and the league was just in its infancy. Everyone knows the tremendous growth the league has gone through, so experiencing it first hand makes me optimistic and excited for the next 15 years.

There is still a general soccer culture gap between the US and Europe. In Europe, fans have lived and breathed their team’s colors and history for decades. Soccer has undoubtedly been the most popular sport around the world, so that brings an extra level of focus and passion. But like I said, the quality of play and eyeballs in MLS has gotten a lot better. By the time 2026 the World Cup will be held on our home soil, this difference will be even smaller.

AF: What are your most memorable moments as a US soccer player?

Altidore: There are many, but reaching the Confederations Cup final is one of the most important things; it was my first experience with the national team on a global scale and the goal against Spain in the semi-final was the cherry on top. I would also like to be part of two World Cup teams, it’s every young player’s dream, so I’ll always look forward to doing that.

AF: Which players influenced you the most as a young player? And who have you enjoyed playing against as a professional and international player?

Altidore: As a young kid in the late 90s and early 2000s, Ronaldo (in Brazil) was unmatched. He is a complete striker and his drive to score big goals has really inspired me. The other is Gabriel Batistuta. As far as the players I’ve played against, (Lionel) Messi was pretty extraordinary.

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