Altidore, Gomez regain scoring touch, more Americans Abroad
All the rumblings about Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury being the future, and perhaps even the present, of the United States forward corps must have ignited quite the fire under a couple of goal-starved American strikers this past week.
U.S. World Cup strikers Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez ended extensive goal droughts with impressive tallies over the weekend and allayed some fears and worries among national team fans in the process.
There's no argument regarding which striker needed a goal more for his confidence and international hopes. While Gomez, 29, could always play himself back into the national-team fray with a blazing run of form (See: Mexican Clausura, 2010), Altidore, 21, is supposed to be the steady foundation atop the U.S. formation for years to come.
One goal hardly cements Altidore's return to form, but it does provide a much-needed building block. While playing for parent club Villarreal, Altidore scored in each leg of the team's Copa del Rey Round of 32 tie with third-tier Polideportivo Ejido this past October and November. It had been a blank slate for him since then for both club and country.
It's not like Altidore didn't understand the ramifications of his slump. After the United States' 1-0 loss to Paraguay a couple of weeks ago, he tweeted, "Need to improve, gotta get my mojo back."
For those in need of evidence that Saturday's goal for Bursaspor meant something special to Altidore, watch a highlight of the play and check out Altidore's celebration. As he leaps over the advertising boards to head toward the crowd, a bag of bricks actually falls off his back.
Figuratively, anyway. It's clear that a weight had been lifted.
As for Gomez, he notched an impressive brace to tally his first goals since September. His close-range header and wondrous free kick lifted his team to an important result as it tries to keep pace with a relatively even Group B in the Mexican Clausura.
Altidore and Gomez weren't the only Americans to find the back of the net this week, either. Alejandro Bedoya scored a game-winner for his club in Sweden; Edgar Castillo rescued a point for Puebla in Mexico with some instant offense off the bench; and Jon-Paul Pittman continued his solid second half of the season with another goal in England's League Two.
Here is how all of the Americans playing abroad -- goal scorers and non-goal scorers alike -- fared over the past week (statistics encompass all competitions):