Jozy Altidore broke his extended scoring drought, and Clint Dempsey climbed the U.S. scoring charts with his brace in the 4-3 victory over the Germans.
Altidore's breakout performance, along with Clint Dempsey's brace, carried the USA to a comprehensive 4-3 victory over Germany, one in which the much-maligned U.S. attack transformed into a relentless unit hell-bent on peppering the opposing goal with 16 attempts, seven of which hit the target.
"The biggest thing was creating chances," Altidore said. "Today was huge in terms of the amount of the opportunities we created, how aggressive we were going forward, and I think that was the difference. We've always had the talent, but it was a matter of showing it, and today, we showed signs of that."
And how. Altidore's sublime volley was complemented by an equally aesthetic cross that Dempsey finished with aplomb. Dempsey then took matters into his own feet and lofted a pinpoint left-footed shot from distance to hit Germany when it was already down.
For Dempsey, scoring for the USA is nothing surprising. His brace put him on 35 career international goals, vaulting him past Eric Wynalda and into second place all-time behind Landon Donovan. For Altidore, though, his 14th USA goal was his first in nearly 19 months and was his first in the run of play since Jurgen Klinsmann became U.S manager.
Despite his prolific club seasons in the Netherlands over the last two years, he has been the subject of much criticism and growing concern over whether he can contribute regularly on the international level. He answered all of that with authority Sunday as the beneficiary of an overall top team effort.
"I honestly felt like I've been doing the right things, it was just a matter of being patient and waiting for the chances," Altidore said. "Against Belgium, I was unlucky. I had a very similar chance, but [Vincent] Kompany had nicked it with his head and caught me off balance. Today, I had the chance, I just concentrated on it. I know that if I keep getting them I can be successful."
The last two years for AZ Alkmaar, Altidore has scored 50 goals in all competitions, and the last two years in the Premier League playing for Fulham and Tottenham, Dempsey has tallied 35. It has been seemingly forever since those numbers translated for both players to the U.S. cause, but on Sunday, the two showed the growing ceiling for the USA attack when they are at their best.
"Jozy can learn so much from Clint and is learning," Klinsmann said. "They will start to have a chemistry, they will start to have an instinct for each other, but that comes by time, that's not coming overnight."
Much of the repeated explanation given for Altidore's scoring drought was a lack of service. In a number of U.S. games, he has either become isolated up top or the U.S. has not had the ball in enough advantageous positions to try and find him.
"We want him to have chances, we want him to have opportunities to score," Klinsmann said. "In a lot of the games when he didn't score, he didn't really have chances. Obviously it helps if Graham Zusi is able to break down to the end line or on the left side whoever it is comes down and brings balls in.
"He's strong in the air, he's technically very, very gifted, and on the other hand we need to also help him every game get adjusted to the international level. The international level is a different speed. With all due respect - don't get me wrong, in Holland I'm happy for every goal he scores - but it's a totally different speed. We're talking about two or three different levels, and he adjusts to it."
Against Germany, a dearth of service was not an issue. Defenders found Altidore with precise service from the back that allowed him to hold up the ball and remain involved throughout. For the slump-busting goal, Zusi's cross from the right could not have put a mostly unmarked Altidore in a better position to have a go at the goal.
"It's the ball, the ball makes the goal there," Altidore said. "It was fantastic buildup from the team, but the ball from Graham Zusi was fantastic. I just had to be there."
Much to the relief of Altidore and the U.S. national team as a whole, he was, and he connected for one massive, confidence-inspiring goal.
"It's refreshing for the team to win, I'd say that's the most important thing, but it's always good when you have people scoring goals, because it gives more confidence to the team and that's what you want moving forward," Dempsey said.