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Jozy Altidore: Sunderland AFC Striker Gets Chance at Redemption in 2014-15 EPL Season

Jozy Altidore USMNT

Wikimedia Commons

After a borderline-horrific 2013-14 English Premier League season for SAFC, Sunderland surprisingly avoided relegation. Despite being dead-last in the table at the Christmas break, they pulled off the impossible and only lost one of their final six games, including tying Manchester City, beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford.

However, few players on Sunderland were more disappointing than the £6 million transfer from AZ Alkmaar, Jozy Altidore. The then in-form U.S. Men’s National Team striker dominated in the Dutch Eredivisie and against CONCACAF opponents before his move, but only scored one goal in SAFC’s 2013-14 EPL campaign.

The only positive aspect of Altidore’s 2013-14 foray into the English Premier League was when he won the penalty that allowed Fabio Borini to score the goal for a season-saving win over Chelsea. He showed flashes all season, but when it came down to it, Altidore didn’t do much of anything except pull defenders away from other strikers.

Now, with a new EPL season on the way for both Sunderland and Altidore, expectations for both are high.

It’s already been stated by Gus Poyet and the coaching staff that Altidore, who is coming off injury against Ghana in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s run to the knock-out stages of the 2014 World Cup, is healthy enough to play and should “feature” in the team’s opener against West Brom. Confidence is key for a striker coming off a bad year, and Poyet backing him will do nothing but increase Altidore’s chance at a huge season.

If Altidore can start off strong, he will finish the season strong. He’s a streaky striker with a knack for getting behind defenders, not holding up the play. A goal or two in the opening few games could lead to a 15-plus goal season, but, once again, his success has a lot to do with the success of SAFC’s midfield. Fortunately, Sunderland is noticeably better and should finish near the middle-half of the table.

It’s easy to argue that Sunderland’s midfield was poor until late in the season when Adam Johnson went on his scoring streak. It’s easy to argue that Sunderland’s defense spent most of the time clearing long-balls down the field instead of building the attack from the back. It’s easy to argue that Altidore was utilized poorly as a center forward when he is clearly more of a pure striker.

But the fact stands that Altidore should have been better, no matter the circumstances. The 2014-15 EPL season will be his chance at redemption, but whether he takes that chance or not remains to be seen.

Related: Sunderland Season Preview: New Signings Will Lead to Success

EPL Preview: West Bromwich Albion Will Battle to Avoid Relegation

Taylor Sturm is a Columnist for StoppageTimeSoccer.net. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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