When it comes to the goal scoring, U.S. international Jozy Altidore is pretty much on pace to match last year’s breakout season. The Alkmaar striker had 22 goals across all competitions for the Dutch club last year.
Just back from the Dutch season’s winter break, Altidore has 12 goals in all competitions, including 11 in Eredivisie play. So, individually things look roughly the same – which isn’t bad at all.
But it’s the team ambition that looks quite different at the moment. AZ finished a surprising fourth last year in the 18-team league, a terrific finish for one of Holland’s smaller clubs. This year, AZ is a lot closer to a nasty drop than to heroic challenge for the top; AZ sits 12th now, just three points out of the group that would find itself in a white knuckle playoff to avoid relegation into the Dutch second tier.
I talked to Altidore this morning as part of the Soccer Today show I co-host weekly. Two interesting things from the short interview as they relate to the club:
First, Altidore told us the feel is a little different heading back into training after the winter break; everyone can already sense the weight of it, the threat the relegation hanging like that proverbial dark cloud. It’s what everyone always says about the lurking relegation monster.
And, the U.S. striker reminded us that the Dutch table isn’t the only way into European competition. There’s also the Dutch Cup, and his team is into the quarterfinals. They play at FC Den Bosch on Jan. 29 – ironically, kicking off just a few hours before Jurgen Klinsmann’s team of mostly MLS men faces Canada in a friendly. So, the club’s spring goals will be all about avoiding a drop in league play, but gaining a European spot by bringing the “something special” in Dutch Cup matches.
As for a potential transfer, Altidore played it cool, not saying much at all. After what seemed like some initial interest, we aren’t hearing much lately about the 23-year-old forward.
(The Soccer Today podcast should be up some time Monday; I’ll post the link here when the pod goes up.)
Rapids add longtime Bundesliga winger Aigner from 1860 Munich (highlights)
Aigner has the resume to succeed and perhaps star in MLS, especially if he wasn’t slowed too much by a knee injury last season (He returned and produced at the 2.Bundesliga level).
Here’s what Rapids interim general manager Padraig Smith said:
“We’re excited to add a player of Stefan’s caliber to our roster for the next three-and-a-half years,” said Smith. “As an organization we are committed to fielding a forward-thinking side and bringing in Stefan – a technical and versatile player who can excel in multiple attacking roles – will help us achieve that vision.”
American backstop Ethan Horvath was under siege at home, but his Club Brugge side overcame throwing away a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-3 draw with İstanbul Başakşehir. The three road goals will give the Turkish visitors every reason to feel good about the Aug. 2 second leg.
Celtic 0-0 Rosenborg
Brendan Rodgers‘ Scottish champions outshot the visitors 12-8, but couldn’t find a way into the goal. Now the Bhoys will have to score in Norway to advance to the next round.
Nice 1-1 Ajax
Mario Balotelli‘s 32nd minute staked Nice to a halftime lead, but the UEFA Europa League finalists snared an away goal through Donny van de Beek to send Ajax back to Holland with a slim advantage.
The Turkish Football Federation statement said Terim, 63, and the federation agreed that “it would be healthier for both sides to part ways,” saying non-football related issues were harming both Terim and the federation.
It also thanked Terim, who has headed the national team since 2013, for his services.
Terim previously managed Galatasaray, Milan and Fiorentina. There was no word on who would replace him.
BVB mid Merino reportedly undergoing Newcastle medical