His red card while playing for EPL struggler Hull City might ordinarily have prompted some head shaking, some mumbling about impetuous youth. U.S. supporters, gazing from afar, could simply have hoped the 20-year-old striker grows out of it.
But this is hardly an ordinary time. It's squeaky-bum time in soccer's ultimate cycle, the crest of the World Cup loop.
But what if he does something similar in early June, in South Africa? It could easily influence careers, his and others. Everything is super-charged and intensely magnified at a World Cup, the good and the bad, the present and the future consequences.
On top of it all, the United States has some history of disciplinary indiscretion in World Cups.
Four years later, another incident proved costly -- although the player wasn't totally at fault. At USA 1994,
A few days later, defender
Which brings us back to Altidore and the potential damage he -- or anyone else, obviously -- could cause in one mad moment.
"I think it's the best thing that could have happened to Jozy," Wynalda said Thursday in reference to Altidore's weekend red. "He understands how much he hurt his team by what he did."
Wynalda, who co-hosts the show
Altidore's behavior can't be condoned, but it may be somewhat understandable. At Hull, he is a striker who is stranded by lack of support and service on a poor team. Players do get frustrated. On the other hand, there is a chance we'll see something similar in South Africa. We know the United States leans significantly on counterattacks and set-pieces for scoring. So right off the bat, a long afternoon against England potentially lurks for any U.S. forward.
If Altidore plays, the more cunning and conniving of defenders, who will surely be aware of his relative youth and his potential for trespass into the red zone, may try to bait him as they did Wynalda 20 years ago. They could nudge, prod and tempt, hoping to push him over the line.
Of course, the United States is not alone in all of this. Petulant or downright dirty deeds have nicked the chances of far more distinguished teams. Great example: the U.S.' opponent on June 12.
What's more, England's naughtiness of modern day has been perpetrated by its most famous faces.
And none other than
Of course, Rooney is Rooney. He has harnessed some of those bulldog ways. Either way, England manager
This is it for D.C. United. With zero points from four games, the once-proud Black and Red begins a critical stretch of three matches over eight days. First up is
New England has been hanging tough and has even squeezed out a couple of results. But with
Chicago has a little burst of momentum going. Houston, San Jose and Los Angeles did, too, before Round 5 setbacks on the road. All four of those teams are at home on Saturday. So is Seattle, looking to rediscover the plot after last weekend's disappointing, taxing two-game road blitz.