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Altidore repays Bradley for keeping faith

Altidore has struggled to make his mark in European club football since moving from the New York Red Bulls to Spain's Villareal three years ago but remains a potent force for his country, scoring 11 goals in 36 appearances.

"I'm just happy that we started off the tournament in the right way," Altidore said. "It was a good start and of course you are always happy to get a goal."

Loan spells with Xerex in Spain's second division and Hull City, when they were struggling at the foot of the Premier League last season, were not ideal moves for the 21-year-old from New Jersey, who spent the back half of this season in Turkey with Bursaspor.

A solitary goal in eight games in the Turkish top flight was hardly a guarantee of a place in the Gold Cup squad but Bradley remained a believer.

"When you go through a stretch with your club team, not always playing regularly and not getting goals, I think in terms of confidence this was very important," said Bradley.

"The movement that led to the first goal and obviously the ball he that he put across for Clint Dempsey's goal were both great plays."

Altidore broke down the right, showing good pace, before putting in a perfectly struck low cross for Dempsey to slide in at the back post.

It was a timely reminder that he is also a facilitator and has now adapted to his new role as a target man. "The coach has asked me to be the guy that the team can look to pay to when we are under pressure and be that big body up top and try to bring people into the game," Altidore said after the game

Michael Bradley, the coach's son and the engine of the U.S. midfield, said Altidore's efforts, away from the penalty area, were often overlooked.

"Jozy is important for our team. We count on him and in a lot of ways," he said.

"He plays a big part in our success, and there may be times when may be the goals don't come but even on those days he gives our team a lot.

"All you need to look at that in terms of that is the World Cup. He wasn't able to score, but just his overall contribution to the team and every game was really big."

The U.S face Panama next in Group C at Tampa on Saturday.