AZ striker Jozy Altidore bagged his third hat-trick of the Eredivisie season on Sunday during his club’s 6-0 smashfest of nine-man FC Utrecht. The triple brings Altidore’s overall total to 28 goals and his league total to 21, both new single-season records for an American in a European top flight.
The U.S. striker opened his tab from the spot in the 28th minute before doubling his total with another penalty just six minutes later. Three minutes after that Altidore had his hat-trick when he rose to head home a cross and sent Utrecht packing. With the win, AZ snapped a four-match drought at home and moved six points clear of the relegation zone.
While banging home a hat-trick in nine minutes is never a bad thing, Jozy’s feat highlights the discrepancy between his play for club and country. It’s growing increasingly frustrating to watch Altidore rip off goals for AZ yet appear helpless for the Nats. From an American fan perspective it can almost feel personal – If Jozy can score at will in Holland why can’t he do so for the National Team?
Sure, fans don’t expect him to run rampant against quality CONCACAF opponents like Mexico, Costa Rica or Honduras but against countries like Canada and Antigua & Barbuda, Altidore should be dominating. But it’s not happening. In fact, in the last seven World Cup Qualifying matches that the 23 year old has played (four of which he started) he’s failed to score and only managed three shots on target.
Of course, Altidore’s poor form for the Yanks is anything but personal. His form at AZ is due in large part to the squad’s three-pronged, wide spread, attacking style of play. Opposed to the isolated, back-to-goal role that Altidore is constantly given with the USMNT, he is afforded near limitless freedom and support at AZ. The Dutch club’s style, formation and mentality allows Altidore to run at defenders, creatively link up with teammates and crash the box from behind the play.
At the end of the day it’s difficult to compare club football in Holland to international football within the CONCACAF. But in a country where Altidore’s play is constantly under a microscope, it’s worth nothing that although Jurgen Klinsmann originally expressed his desire to implement an attack-minded approach (similar to that of AZ), it has yet to actually materialize.
In a shocking twist, Chelsea could be prepared to bring back a former defender.
The Blues are reportedly lining up a bid for Brazilian central defender David Luiz, who exited the club two years ago to head to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. According to Daily Mail, Chelsea would pay up to roughly $41 million for the PSG centerback.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Back in 2014, Chelsea received an astounding $65 million for Luiz from the French champions, but he has quickly grown out of favor with the club.
New manager Antonio Conte is looking to sure up the backline before end of the transfer window, and Luiz appears to be a final effort to do that after missing out on several defenders, including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
AS is reporting that Tottenham could be in for Real Madrid midfielder Isco.
While Spurs currently boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly keen on adding another playmaker into the fold as Isco’s future in Madrid is unknown.
Isco would leave on a loan deal, and while Spurs are seen as a contender for the Spaniard, Malaga is said to be interested in the player as well.
Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala could be on his way to Porto after joining the English side two years ago.
According to the Guardian, the 25-year-old would likely return to the Portuguese side on loan after disappointing for the Citizens since his arrival in 2014.
With the addition of John Stones this summer, Mangala has fallen further down the pecking order with new manager Pep Guardiola.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
[ MORE: Aguero could miss Manchester derby after FA charge ]
The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
The Gunners have been heavily criticized for not spending enough during the transfer season, however, Arsene Wenger has gotten the man he wanted to help out defensively.
[ MORE: Rooney retiring from England after 2018 World Cup ]
Arsenal announced the signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday, after the German centerback had been previously been linked to the club for some time as their top transfer target.
Mustafi will likely figure immediately into the Arsenal defense, which has also added Rob Holding this summer. The 24-year-old made over 64 appearances for Valencia while in La Liga after beginning his academy career in England with Everton.
Hope Solo hasn’t had the best couple of weeks since the U.S. Women’s National Team bailed out of the 2016 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. keeper announced her decision to take a step back from her club team as well after receiving a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer.
The veteran American shot stopper took to Twitter to make her decision known, leaving her status unknown with the Seattle Reign in the future. Solo remains under contract until the end of the current campaign, however, it is not known as to how her decision to sit out will affect her financially.
Solo wil be eligible to return to the USWNT in February, but it will be up to head coach Jill Ellis to reintroduce the 35-year-old into the fold.