He Does Everything Zamora Does, and Scores

Posted on October 18, 2009

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The big storyline ahead of tomorrow’s Hull City match seems to be Jimmy Bullard’s possible return to action against his former club.  There’s nothing wrong with this, frankly.  Hull v. Fulham is not the Premier League’s sexiest matchup, and it’s nice that a vanilla match like this one has at least one element burbling under the surface.

Bullard’s exit out of Fulham came as a bit of a shocker in the first place.  It’s hard to believe a guy with less than a year of healthy soccer in the books could genuinely think that the club owed him a longer term contract, especially when the aforementioned club also stood by him while he rehabbed a gruesome knee injury on the company dime.  And yet it’s still hard to fully dislike Jimmy, or blame him.  His up-by-the-bootstraps story is refreshing, and his demeanor seems genuine and joyful- a far cry from the entitled and scowling masses of pro soccer players we so often see.  And, as Fulham’s own Clint Dempsey is fond of saying, the game don’t care.  So it is also hard to fault Jimmy for, excuse the expression, wanting to get his.

But for me the Hull City game has a smaller but more important highlight- Jozy Altidore on the Hull roster.  As a USA national team supporter firstly, I’d seen what Altidore seemed poised to become as a first team striker.  So when it became apparent that Fulham would need more talent up top, looking to snap up Altidore, even if only on a loan, seemed logical.  There are not many young strikers excelling for on a national team  whose clubs are actively trying to loan out, as Villareal was.  So not snapping up Altidore when there was the opportunity was a big swing and a miss.  He is a big target and has shown he can play with his back to goal, able to hold the ball up for play and win the ball aerially.  Yet he has uncommon pace for his size, and passes well- witness his square ball to Conor Casey early in the USA/Costa Rica game.  And he scores goals.  In short, he does what Zamora does, with that added bonus of being dangerous in the 18 yard box.

Fulham is a far cry from the days when Kasey Keller stood in goal, Carlos Bocanegra prowled the back line and Brian McBride peppered in goal after goal from up front.  But with Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson still on the roster, there’s still a strong American presence at Craven Cottage.  Few can argue that the surest way to avoid building a soccer juggernaut is to stock the team with American talent.  But in this case, Jozy Altidore is not an ‘American talent’, but just a talent.   Signing him would have been a quick and exciting fix to Fulham’s up-top woes.

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