Of all the United States players under fire in recent years, few have been the subject of more scrutiny than Jozy Altidore. The former phenom now considered by many to be a disappointment was supposed to be the team's answer to their problem at forward. With Juan Agudelo leading a pack of younger strikers challenging Altidore for the first time in years and looking to displace him from his seemingly permanent starting spot, Altidore has a challenge on his hands.
It is not head coach Bob Bradley's fault that Altidore has become a permanent starter. There hasn't been anyone else that has made a strong enough case to take his spot so while Altidore has stumbled in the last two years he has remained the best option that the Americans have. That may not be the case for much longer though with the development of Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury, which puts the pressure on Altidore to have a good Gold Cup.
Even as Altidore has struggled, he's managed to make an impact against CONCACAF teams. He finished second in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with five goals even as his form dipped. That bodes well for him and the U.S. heading into the Gold Cup. He can play against the weaker CONCACAF teams and produce. Until the final, the U.S. will play five weaker teams, which means Altidore will have five chances to add to his goal total.
Altidore's success in the Gold Cup will not be an indication that "he's back." Countless U.S. strikers have proven dangerous against CONCACAF teams, but unable to have that kind of success against top international teams or with their club teams. That doesn't mean that the U.S. couldn't use his goalscoring in the Gold Cup. They most definitely could and they will likely get it considering his track record of performing in CONCACAF. One goal, two goals, three or even four, Altidore is primed for a big tournament.