In an exclusive interview with Goal.com, the American striker admits that he would like to play for the U.S. team in the 2012 summer Olympics
By Alex Labidou
With Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jose Torres all expected to feature in the U.S. men's national team match against Italy in Wednesday's friendly, forward Jozy Altidore is excited to see how the trio will fit together in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's system.
"It's an important game because it's the first time that we'll have almost everyone, with Landon, Clint and Jose back in the fold," Altidore told Goal.com. "We're missing Gooch [Oguchi Oneywu], which is important but it's a good chance for our coach to look at our better two players together. To see how they fit into the mold of things, in this new formation and his new ideas."
Previewing the United States' upcoming match against Italy, Altidore answered a few questions about whether or not having Donovan and Dempsey back together will improve his performances, the United States' burgeoning competition upfront, and if he is interested in playing in the Olympics.
Goal.com: Getting Donovan and Dempsey back on the field will only help you in getting more scoring opportunities, right?
Jozy Altidore (JA): Yeah, the better players you have around you, anywhere you are, the more chances you're going to get. I think it's important because you hope those guys are going to be around for the next World Cup and be a big part of things. If they stay healthy, those are two hungry guys. I'm excited that they are finally going to get on the field together.
With those two guys out on the field, your coach is likely going to switch back to 4-3-3. You showed some success in the win against Slovenia playing in a 4-4-2. Which formation do you prefer?
JA: Me personally, I am just trying to be a player that can play in any formation. My whole career, when I came on, I've been more comfortable in a 4-4-2 because it allows you to move around and gives defences something to look at as opposed to me being just up there [solo], challenging the centre-backs. So the comfort is there because I've been playing in that system since I was young.
As you progress, a lot of teams are starting to favour a 4-3-3 because of its ability to allow you to attack and defend all at once. For me, it doesn't really matter. Whatever I've got to do to get on the field, I'll try to adjust to it.
A lot of people have speculated whether or not you'd be interested in playing in the Olympics. Would you like to play?
JA: Yeah, I would love to play. I was so excited last time around I was selected but I didn't get to play [much] in it. It was tough to swallow for a while.
The Olympics is an amazing tournament and opportunity but at the same time though, I know that there are a lot of exciting young players in the fold that also deserve their chance. I think that's big going forward for the national team. Having as many talented strikers as possible and I think we have some in the Olympic team.
So I'm really excited for those guys in the qualifiers but if the team wants me and the players want me to play, then I would love to be on the Olympic team.
Speaking about strikers, there's definitely been a huge influx of young promising strikers that weren't around during the 2010 World Cup. What are your thoughts on that?
JA: I'm excited about it. When you play for the national team, for me, my whole view is I just want to win. The fact that we have all these guys, I just want to be a part of something great and I think we have that.
I think we have the ability with some of these guys to do that. You got Juan [Agudelo], Charlie [Davies] is coming back, Teal Bunbury, CJ Sapong, and you got the young Terrance Boyd. We didn't have those names two or three years ago. So I think now it's fantastic because we have a lot of options and things we can throw at teams. Hopefully we can get to a point where whoever is on the field can have a big effect.
You mentioned Charlie Davies. Were you excited to see him get a game for Sochaux recently?
JA: Like everyone else, I was a bit worried.
Charlie's a fighter but going back to Europe is not an easy thing, especially considering he didn't play the last few games of the MLS season. A part of me also knew that this is Charlie here. He is one of the most competitive kids I know.
I knew that the competitive side of him wasn't going to be a problem. It turns out that everything worked out for him. So far so good. It's just about getting that chance and trying to get back on the team again. I think everyone at first would have thought, "How's his situation going to be there? Will he go on loan?" So far for him, he's doing a great job.