The young guns looked good for the U.S. men’s national team in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Iceland, but veteran Jozy Altidore surely impressed as well. The 26-year-old scored once and got the hockey assist on Michael Orozco’s goal in the 59th minute.
The Toronto FC forward was active up top for the United States during his 75 minutes on the StubHub Center pitch, making dangerous runs and drawing four fouls. Injuries have hampered Altidore in recent years and he said he is focused on maintaining his health to have a successful year.
“I’m just trying to work that much harder, to be that much fitter. To me, the biggest thing is health. trying to keep the injuries to a minimum because that has hurt me int he past couple of years.
Altidore filled a mentor role during the camp as many younger strikers, including Jordan Morris and Gyasi Zardes, spoke highly of the veteran’s willingness to offer advice during training.
“We see a Jozy maturing, a Jozy realizing that ‘I belong already to the established older guys,’” U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “I always tell them to maximize their time now and I think Jozy is at a point in his career where he really becomes an adult, saying ‘I got to get the most out of this thing.’”
Although he is not necessarily new to the U.S. national team, Lee Nguyen made his first-ever international start Sunday and had a standout game.
The New England Revolution midfielder sent a perfect ball across the box for Gyasi Zardes in the 16th minute and was part of a brilliant passing sequence for the United States in the 25th minute that ended in a corner kick.
Nguyen, 29, previously had seven caps for the national team, all coming off the bench. He was called to training camp last year and said the previous experience helped him prepare for this year’s camp.
“I think they wanted to see positive movement,” Nguyen said of what he was able to show to the coaching staff to earn the start, “being able to support my teammates, being able to find those little pockets and at the same time being able to keep possession and move forward and find those connecting balls with the forwards.”
Klinsmann called Nguyen “one of the winners of this (training) period,” noting that the midfielder “set a tone” early and had locked up a starting role by the first week of camp for his strong practice performance.