NEW YORK (AP) — Jozy Altidore was dropped Monday from the U.S. roster for a pair of critical World Cup qualifiers after disappointing U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann in games and practice over the last year.
Klinsmann instead selected Seattle's Eddie Johnson and San Jose's Alan Gordon to join Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez and Landon Donovan as attacking players on his 24-man roster for games at Antigua and Barbuda on Friday and home against Guatemala on Oct. 16.
Seeking their seventh straight World Cup appearance, the Americans face likely elimination unless they get at least four points. The U.S., Guatemala and Jamaica all have 2-1-1 records with seven points, and only the top two teams in the group advance to next year's regional finals.
"I communicated with Jozy that I was not happy about his latest performances with us, maybe even over the last 14 months," Klinsmann said during a conference call from Miami. "I think Jozy can do much, much better, and the reason why he's not coming in is mainly about the performances in Jamaica and at home, also in training. Also certain things that went on through the May-June camp."
Klinsmann also said Donovan's left knee injury sustained Saturday while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy did not appear to be serious and that midfielder Jermaine Jones' left ankle injury was minor.
The decision to drop Altidore was the most significant. The 22-year-old has nine goals in 10 games this season for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands and is tied for the Dutch league lead with eight goals. But he was ineffective in the home-and-home games with Jamaica.
Altidore has 13 goals in 51 international appearances but none since November's exhibition at Slovenia. He arrived late at the May-June camp when his club cited FIFA regulations and blocked him from reporting on time.
"Obviously I'm disappointed in the decision," Altidore said through the U.S. Soccer Federation." At the same time, I fully support the team in their efforts to get six points from the next two games so we can advance to the final round. My goal continues to be to do everything I can to help the team be successful."
Altidore, who has played in 17 straight qualifiers dating to October 2008, could return in the future.
"This is a decision as of today, for these two games, so the door is always open," Klinsmann said. "We hope to see a positive reaction from his end and put more effort and more commitment into this whole approach."
Klinsmann also had been critical of Altidore in an espn.com interview that ran Sept. 28. Altidore, according to multiple reports, posted a tweet, which since has been removed: "Love when people try to blame others for their own short comings and incompetence." Klinsmann said he wasn't sure the comment was directed at him.
"The tweet people are referring to had nothing to do with Jurgen," Altidore said. "When I realized there may be some confusion, I deleted it."