Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore has spoken of his immense pride after captaining the US national team for the first time in last Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly win over the Czech Republic.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had named an experimental squad for the trip to Prague, including six uncapped players, with goalkeeper Nick Rimando the lone MLS representative due to the league’s lack of an international break.
With usual skipper Clint Dempsey therefore staying with the Seattle Sounders, that made the 71-times capped Altidore by far the most experienced figure on the roster, and prompted the German boss to hand him the armband for the matchup.
‘It was a fantastic experience and it was a great honour to captain a country as big as the United States, so I was very proud of it,’ he told safc.com.
‘Being skipper was different because it is a lot of pressure and there are a lot of eyes on you. It was a lot of responsibility but I just tried to keep things simple by acting like the same guy I normally do to make sure they all felt comfortable.
‘I never thought it would happen so soon but then again I never thought any of this would happen when I was younger, so it is all a dream for me.’
While his importance to the US setup was well and truly underlined last week, Altidore continues to struggle at the club level, having failed to make a Premier League start so far this season, following a campaign in which he netted just once in 30 Premier League appearances.
After scoring for fun in the Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaaar prior to his £6 million move to the north east last summer, how the 24-year-old fits in manager Gus Poyet’s plans going forward remains unclear, but one would hope he can use this recent landmark as motivation to push on for more first-team minutes.