The US men’s national team rounded off 2014 with a disappointing 4-1 defeat to the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday night in Dublin, with head coach Jurgen Klinsmann left with a lot to ponder going into the New Year.
After Anthony Pilkington and Mix Diskerud traded first-half strikes, Ireland reclaimed the lead for good in the 56th-minute when Fabian Johnson played a poor pass near the US goal, allowing David McGoldrick to set up Robbie Brady for a close-range finish.
The home side poured on the pressure from there, with James McClean putting the game beyond doubt eight minutes before the end with a deflected shot past goalkeeper Bill Hamid, before Brady completed the scoring soon after with his second from a perfect free-kick.
While the visitors were missing key starters like Michael Bradley, captain Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones at the Aviva Stadium, their line-up was still one laden with veteran talent, with stand-in skipper Jozy Altidore admitting that his side failed to put up a fight.
“I think it was a good year but as we look towards a new cycle now it’s clear what we missed here: we missed a lot of bite, and it was just too easy for Ireland. At international level you can’t play like that,” he stated after the match.
“At the same time, it’s a learning curve, they are growing pains. We have to make sure that we’re learning and these things stop occurring as we go into 2015.”
After scoring from the penalty spot in last Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Colombia at Craven Cottage, Altidore had a few bright moments on this occasion too, dinking in a great ball for the US goal and smashing the crossbar with a shot just before the break.
Aside from those efforts, however, the Sunderland striker was once again isolated up top, and not quite as physical as he needed to be, with fans growing increasingly frustrated on Twitter at his inability to push on and become the talisman that his team need him to be.
Jozy Altidore is good for a whole lot of nothing.— Ryan Szoldatits (@Ryansizzletits) November 19, 2014
Just watched #USAvIRL. Wow. Altidore is so out of form. Beckerman is bad. Wood can't finish. Chandler can't defend. Johnson is a midfielder— Andrew Rouse (@usarouse) November 19, 2014
I really don't understand why #Altidore is even on the team. He barely shows up on the pitch. There is a reason why His club benched him.— S.O.C.C.E.R.⚽ F.A.N (@Unfiltered_01) November 19, 2014
Jozy Altidore is the biggest plug, Kilnsmann should give someone else a shot, such as Aron Jóhannsson.— Goaldobin (@Goaldobin) November 19, 2014
Why did I think Freddy Adu and altidore was the same person?— Penn Master Flash (@JonMatthewsFB) November 18, 2014
Jozy Altidore is the most overrated player on the USMNT.— Cristian Molina (@thecpaul) November 18, 2014
Stop playing jozy altidore....— van Persie (@danielckim) November 18, 2014
Jozy Altidore is the Mike Vick of soccer. All the "experts" adore him for no good got damn reason! #bum— Jeremy Longobardy (@paddict66) November 18, 2014
Jozy Altidore has got to get some club time in. He's out of shape and has 0 confidence. Sunderland doing USMNT no favors— Josh Babcock (@jbabs822) November 18, 2014
altidore has to get better. here's to hoping he makes a move that helps restore his confidence in time for 2018— Greg Mockos (@Fuzzyforeigner) November 18, 2014
Jozy Altidore should be our like 9th choice striker. Everybody who's has been called up recently has looked better than him— Kevin Prinz (@Fresh_Prinz11) November 18, 2014
Never been sold on Altidore. Sure he has the phsyical makeup of a FWD. But it's the whole "Looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane" complex— Brock (@BrockOgami) November 18, 2014