Jozy Altidore nets third hat-trick for AZ this season

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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.

Cristiano Ronaldo announces birth of twin sons via surrogate

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal’s third-place match at the 2017 Confederations Cup this Sunday.

He has bigger things to sort out.

Ronaldo, 32, was released from Portugal’s squad late Wednesday after their defeat on penalty kicks to Chile in the Confed Cup semifinals in Russia.  The Real Madrid and Portugal superstar will now travel to visit his new twin sons, who were born via a surrogate earlier this month, with Ronaldo set to meet them for the first time after captaining Portugal in Russia over the past few weeks.

According to reports from Portuguese TV channel SIC, the surrogate mother was based on the west coast of the U.S. (I can already hear you guys asking ‘does that mean they’re eligible to play for the USMNT?’). Ronaldo is now the father of three children after already having a seven-year-old son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr.

Reports also suggest that his 22-year-old girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is five months pregnant, so soon he could be a father for the fourth time. He would then be able to field a five-a-side team of Ronaldo’s for indoor games…

Below is the post from Ronaldo confirming his departure from Portugal’s squad, which the national team also confirmed, as he is set to meet his new children for the first time.

“I was in the service of the national team, as always, body and soul, even though my two sons were born. Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve the main sporting objective that we wanted, but I am sure we will continue to give joy to the Portuguese.

“The President of the Portuguese Football Federation and the national picker have today had an attitude that has touched me and I will not forget. I’m very happy to finally be with my children for the first time.”

Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.