Honduras v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Jozy Altidore’s competition at Sunderland may be thinning out


Jozy Altidore’s competition at striker may be thinning out as Sheffield Wednesday is keen on a loan move for Connor Wickham.

Since arriving at Sunderland in June 2011 on a $12 million (£8m) deal from Ipswich Town, Wickham has failed to make a consistent impact, making only 25 appearances.

Despite Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher suffering a season ending ankle injury last March, Wickham found his chances few and far between. In February 2013, the 20 year old was sent to Sheffield Wednesday on a short term loan, where he featured in six matches, scoring one goal.

With Altidore’s arrival on Tyneside, Sheffield Wednesday boss Dave Jones senses that he stands a good shot at bringing Wickham back to Hillsborough Stadium and would welcome such an arrangement.

It remains to be seen whether Paolo Di Canio would be willing to send the England Under 21 out on a second loan deal, although it is widely acknowledged that Wickham’s development is taking longer than expected and he needs minutes and goals to build his confidence.

As it stands now, Altidore faces stiff competition from Fletcher and Danny Graham for the starting spot at the Stadium of Light. Black Cats boss Paulo di Canio  typically employs a 4-4-1-1, which means space is limited at the front of the line.

Altidore will benefit from Fletcher’s continued recovery from ligament damage but will need to get his name on the scoresheet early in the season if he’s to make the position his own. As for Graham, the 27 year old spent all of last season out of form and lacks the nose for goal that Altidore and Fletcher both possess.

In other words, things are looking up for Mr. Altidore.

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

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The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

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Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.