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Designated Player Watch: Jozy Altidore

This is the second part of Hudson River Blue’s ongoing series identifying candidates for NYCFC’s third and final Designated Player. A breakdown of Major League Soccer’s DP rules can be found here.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

FULL NAME: Josmer Volmy Altidore

LAUNCH DATE: 6 November 1989

CURRENT CLUB, LEAGUE: Sunderland, English Premier League


INTERNATIONAL SERVICE: 76 caps for the United States since 2007

ON THE RESUME: Debuted at age 16 for the New York Red Bulls, stacking 15 goals in 37 games. Left in 2008 for Manuel Pellegrini's Villareal (Spanish Liga) and spent three years mostly on loan. Over two seasons at AZ Alkmaar (Dutch Eridivisie), scored 39 goals and won the 2013 Dutch Cup. Currently in his second year at Sunderland.

Ranks fifth all-time in goals scored for the United States, and was named 2013's U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year. A first-team selection at the World Cup in Brazil, he came off injured in the first game and missed the remaining three. Wore the captain's armband for the Americans three times in 2014, including twice as a starter.

WHY NYCFC SHOULD APPROACH ALTIDORE: Just like our featured DP candidate from last week, Altidore was raised in South Florida but was born just twenty miles from the Five Boroughs in Livingston, New Jersey. Oddly enough, he shares his original home town with New York City FC Football Director Claudio Reyna. He boasts great familiarity with the New York soccer scene, having made his pro debut for the metro area's team of record. An instant sensation in MLS, Altidore became the youngest player to start -- and later, the youngest to score -- in a league playoff game.

Hudson River Blue believes it's no accident that three out of four remaining squads in the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs feature high-profile Designated Players from the U.S. National Team. (Kyle Beckerman of previously-eliminated Real Salt Lake, while not an actual DP, is designated in our hearts) With the Clint Dempseys and Jermaine Joneses of the world already spoken for, there is no realistic, first-choice U.S. target whose name rings louder than Jozy Altidore, a true number nine still ascending into his athletic prime.

He is a proven goalscorer in both MLS and international play, and stands as the only current U.S. player who brings a combination of finishing and back-to-the-goal physicality to the striker role: Altidore's early injury at the World Cup in Brazil exposed America's lack of options in replacing his significant stature.

Altidore's critics ought to consider what the American bruiser could accomplish playing off David Villa in space. Frank Lampard would present Altidore a more creative, savvy version of Michael Bradley, his favorite attacking collaborator on Team USA. That trio would make for some devastating buildup play, constantly forcing defenses to make tough decisions on the run.

Rumors of a move to MLS have swarmed around Altidore since before this summer's World Cup, and reached a level of hilarity when Altidore tweeted-then-deleted this message to the Los Angeles Galaxy, who need a successor to Landon Donovan:

"really? stop blowing up my agent's phone. no means no."

Even if L.A. is a no-go, the striker has routinely confirmed his desire for more matches at the club level, and a January move is likely. With New York's newest team kicking off weeks later, Jason Kreis and Claudio Reyna could be gearing up for a big offer befitting a big dude.

WHY NYCFC SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE: Fueled by high-profile MLS moves by Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, there is an increasing spat between U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and MLS boss Don Garber over whether or not Major League Soccer's level of competition is harmful to the international readiness of America's first-choice talent. Garber's motivation is logical: to grow the domestic league and maximize its overall level of play. Klinsmann, however, has been unapologetic about his desire for U.S. players to face the best of competition in Europe's top leagues.

If Altidore returns to MLS at just 25 years of age, the embers of the Garber-Klinsmann rift would likely erupt into an inferno, and New York City FC could find itself roasting over the flames in the middle of it all. That's the wrong kind of publicity for a new team still forging its identity.

Recent form ought to be considered as well, and Jozy Altidore has been a disaster at Sunderland. Since his $12 million move, the striker has two goals in 38 appearances, including just one in 30 Premier League games. Manager Gus Poyet has shown increasingly little favor for the American.

Beginning with an infamous omission from the team that battled Manchester City in the 2014 League Cup Final, forwards Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher eventually relegated Jozy to the fringes of the squad, where he is often not even among the substitutes.

According to a survey published in June by the Sunderland Echo, Altidore was the supporters' pick for most disappointing signing of the Black Cats' 2013-14 campaign. Two weeks later, his left hamstring was the only thing eliminated from the World Cup faster than Spain. Disappointment has been his thing in recent months. Something to consider: if he was starting and scoring in England, would it make sense for him to head for MLS in the first place?

Is Jozy the guy, or should the club keep looking? We want to hear all of your comments, questions, and cheap shots. Send your regards @hudsonriverblue or blow up Sam like Jozy's agent's phone @RealFakeSamDunn.