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#AltidoreWatch - Sunderland Striker Set For World Cup Action

It's Ghana be interesting as Jozy Altidore's USMNT take on former SAFC striker Asamoah Gyan's Black Stars in Natal tonight, live on BBC1.

There's nothing holding Jozy back in his quest for goals in the 2014 World Cup.
There's nothing holding Jozy back in his quest for goals in the 2014 World Cup.
Kevin C. Cox

Having suffered a energy-sapping and hugely unsuccessful season for both club and country, the bustling American will be looking to end his personal campaign on a high as he leads the line for the USMNT tonight in their first game of this year's finals, with the tie showing live on BBC1 tonight - an 11pm kick off.

Altidore, much to the frustration of the Sunderland fans and his national team manager, has struggled to find the net consistently whenever he's played this season but his performances in the USMNT's warm up games against Turkey and Nigeria would suggest that Jozy is brimming with confidence and, having unshackled himself from the pressure of day-to-day club football, is playing with a freedom that will stand him in good stead in Brazil. He was clinical in the Nigeria friendly, scoring two goals, and goes into the Ghana tie tonight sure of himself again after a frustrating year since arriving on Wearside.

Jozy will be up against a Ghanaian side that have struggled to find a defensive combination they can settle on. John Boye and Kwadwo Asamoah impressed in the Black Stars 4-0 rout over South Korea last week in Florida but it has to be considered that Boye has barely had a touch all season for French side Rennes and that Asamoah, who is undoubtedly a very good player, is not a natural centre half and isn't the tallest. Jozy will fancy himself against an untested and unproven defence that doesn't always receive the greatest protection from their attack-minded midfield counterparts.

Pressure on Altidore to be the goalscoring talisman for the stars and stripes ramped up significantly after head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made the controversial decision to exclude fan favourite Landon Donovan from his 23-man squad for the tournament. Despite having a torrid time in front of goal for us in the Premier League, Altidore's return for his country is decent and his record of twenty-three goals in seventy games isn't bad for a striker who, despite his aged looks and bullish frame, is still seen as the future of the national team at twenty-fours years old.

In an interview published by yesterday, Altidore spoke of his form going into the World Cup:

"Sometimes you go through times where you're not scoring. It's just like that," he said. "If things aren't going well individually, or you're not having as much success as you want, you just have to make sure that you're helping and you can add value other than that to the team."

Disregarding any preconceptions you have of his ability it's very difficult to fault Jozy's attitude and, to his credit, even when he was on the receiving end of some scathing criticism over the course of last season from the fans and press he remained professional. He's yet to win over the majority of Sunderland supporters - understandably - but the faith put in him by Klinsmann and the US fans will hopefully be the catalyst to him enjoying a successful World Cup and a new start when he reports back to Wearside for pre-season training later next month.

At the other end of the field to Altidore will be the much maligned Asamoah Gyan, whose international form has surprisingly not suffered since leaving Sunderland to join UAE side Al Ain in 2011. It was Gyan's impressive performances in the last World Cup that earned him a big money move to Wearside and it wouldn't surprise me if he uses this one to get his next big pay day - annoyingly, he's actually quite good and his record at both international and club level is decent. Lets hope it's Jozy who comes out of the game with his name up in lights and not the greedy Ghanaian.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Jozy in action tonight then be sure to tune into BBC1 at 10.40pm tonight - and, be safe in the knowledge that Metro radio legend Guy Mowbray is the one taking us through the game, a welcome sign having suffered the likes of Phil Neville and Jonathon Pearce this week.

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