Jozy Altidore has been called back up to rejoin the U.S. men’s soccer roster after being demoted for the last two months. He will play in the friendly against Russia, which will be the teams’ final game of the season.
The 23-year-old was removed from the roster by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann after several critical World Cup qualifiers because of his disappointment in the forward’s performance in practice and recent games.
“We are happy having Jozy back in the group,” Klinsmann said, according to U.S. Soccer’s official website.
Klinsmann admitted that he spoke to Altidore about the issues he had with him. The return of Altidore will allow Klinsmann to see his commitment to the game of soccer and provide the opportunity to still talk through some issues that may still exist.
“We often forget that Jozy is not a 30-year-old player that you already expect to be kind of perfect and mature,” Klinsmann said. “He’s still going through ups and downs, which is totally normal.”
The overall message that Klinsmann was attempting to convey to Altidore by leaving him off the roster was that there were areas where he needed to improve.
“So when a down period comes and I leave him out of the roster, that’s not the end of the world,” Klinsmann said. “But it’s also a little signal to say ‘Hey Jozy, maybe there were things we didn’t like before.’ Now we can catch up and see how it goes.”
Altidore is currently tied for second in goals in the Eredivsie and scored his ninth league goal of the season Saturday for AZ Alkmaar.
Altidore was among the 20 players named by Klinsmann for Wednesday’s match against Russia. Defender Timmy Chandler will also be returning to the roster after playing in exhibitions. He vowed not to play in World Cup qualifiers because it would have bound him to the U.S. team, which would not allow him to play for Germany.