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Feb. 6, 2008

Altidore connects vs. Mexico


Jozy Altidore connected for his first international goal against Mexico Wednesday night.
Jozy Altidore connected for his first international goal against Mexico Wednesday night.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Houston -- Red Bulls forward Jozy Altidore made the best of his first international start by scoring his first goal for the U.S. National Team in its 2-2 draw with Mexico in an international friendly at Reliant Stadium Wednesday night.

Altidore struck in the 40th minute. Midfielder Bobby Convey led a strong counter attack. He fed Clint Dempsey, who fed former MetroStars midfielder Michael Bradley. Bradley then created space for Drew Moor, who

had gotten forward on the right flank to hit a pinpoint cross into the area. The goal was the result of a strong U.S. counterattack led by Bobby Convey, who eventually fed Clint Dempsey, who in turn fed Michael Bradley to create the space for Moor, whose cross set up Altidore. The 18-year-old Altidore sent a nine-yard header into the net.

"It's just a feeling sometimes," Altidore said. "Drew crossed the ball and it went over Rafa's (Marquez) head and landed to me, and I just did my best to get my head on it."

U.S. coach Bob Bradley was impressed.

“The goal was well taken," he said. "He found a little seam in the defense. It was a very, very good ball into the box from Drew Moor. It was an excellent piece of finishing, and a good bit of movement to get into that spot. Seeing where the ball is going to come, and then being in a good position to hold off tough defenders – those are things he has to continue to improve upon."

Bob Bradley decided to let Altidore play the entire match.

"As the game wore on, I think he was tired, but we also felt that his presence could still give us a chance so we let him go the full 90 minutes,” he said.

Altidore, who came off the bench in both of his international appearances, was paired with Dempsey, a former New England Revolution star, up front.

When he discovered that he was started, Altidore said, "I just thought, 'I gotta get focused.' This is my big chance, a big opportunity for myself and my teammates to play in front of a big crowd like this. I think we took the best of it. I thought Mexico played well for the last 20-30 minutes but like good teams do, we weathered the storm."

Outside of the World Cup or qualifiers, it couldn't happen at a bigger stage than Mexico.

"I think the rivalry is all that it's cracked up to be," Altidore said. "It was a tremendous atmosphere. I'm surprised I got to start, but I was still very excited and I had a lot of fun today."

The U.S. lineup was dominated by former MetroStars -- goalkeeper Tim Howard, defender Ramiro Corrales, and midfielders Ricardo Clark and Bradley.
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