If 2011-2012 was the club breakout of Jozy Altidore, then call the coming 12 months his explosion on the international stage. The young striker — he’s still only 22 — is ready to dominate United States national team opponents during World Cup qualifying and beyond.
It’s been a journey for the former New York Red Bull. Altidore always had the physical talents, but struggled with the positional aspects of the game. He’s learning, saying as much to FIFA: “I’m a lot more mature today and that’s crucial in terms of better understanding and reading the game.”
He’s finally comfortable in a club situation and finding playing time with AZ. Altidore rewarded the Dutch club’s faith with 15 goals. (Ernie Stewart is the technical director.)
Now, it’s time to bring that success to the Stars and Stripes. We saw glimpses during the Gold Cup and against Italy of Altidore’s improved hold-up play, decision-making, and movement. He will continue to thrive under Jurgen Klinsmann.
“He’s giving us a different approach. It’s new for all of us, but he’s positive all the time and that’s important for the squad. His training sessions are very different from what we’ve known before. They’re more intense as well. We’re now doing two sessions a day during our get-togethers,” Altidore told FIFA.
One note did stick out: “I’m lucky enough to have had great coaches to help me improve, like Manuel Pellegrini and Bruce Arena. I’ve been able to take advantage of each season to learn and heed the lessons, but it was when I finally had the chance to play that I was able to express myself.”
Arena? That’s an… interesting choice.
The annual LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders matchups are always filled with drama, but Thursday’s moves took the drama and interest in the match up a notch.
Sigi Schmid’s first game back in charge of the LA Galaxy will be against his former club, which fired him midway through the 2016 season. Schmid will also have a brand new signing to debut in Jonathan Dos Santos, the midfield brother of star forward Giovani Dos Santos.
Meanwhile, the second-place Chicago Fire from the Eastern Conference travel to face second-place Sporting Kansas City from the Western Conference, with both teams back to full strength with the Gold Cup completed.
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Here’s a look at this weekend’s full slate of matches around MLS.
Matt Miazga is back again in the Netherlands.
Chelsea announced Friday that it had loaned the American international to Vitesse for the second-consecutive year on a season-long loan. Miazga made 19 starts last season in all competitions and another 10 appearances for Vitesse off the bench, with one goal scored in the run to the KNVB Cup title, the club’s first in its history,
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Despite his rise through the U.S. youth ranks and success with the New York Red Bulls in 2015 before moving to Chelsea, Miazga only made his first U.S. Men’s National Team start at the 2017 Gold Cup, playing the full 90 in the USA’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua.
Miazga went straight from the Gold Cup back to Vitesse to join up for preseason training.
“I look back with pleasure on my first year at Vitesse,” the 22-year-old Miazga told Vitesse’s website. “I felt very welcome and we have all made historic success. That success will be expanded this coming season and I will continue to develop myself. That’s why I returned as soon as possible after winning the Gold Cup. We are going to compete for the second prize in the club’s history. ”
While it’s disappointing that Miazga won’t be able to challenge for a place at Chelsea next season, he could do worse than facing the challenge of the Eredivisie’s huge array of talented attackers, and after another year of seasoning, he could be ready to play in England, with or without Chelsea.
More importantly for him, with the World Cup coming up, even though he’s on the fringe of the World Cup roster right now, getting regular matches in the Eredivisie will help his cause more than playing for Chelsea’s reserves.
Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.
The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.
“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.
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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.
The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.
“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”
Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.
“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.
It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.
“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.
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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.
Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.
Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world: