A week after his first United States national team cap, Icelandic-raised striker Aron Jóhannsson continued tearing up the competition for his club side, AZ Alkmaar of the Dutch Eredivisie.
Jóhannsson scored an individual masterpiece against Greek team Atromitos in the UEFA Europa League, giving his team the lead in the 73rd minute away from home. AZ eventually won 3-1 in a match where every goal came in the final 17 minutes of play.
The striker ran onto a through ball from Willie Overtoom inside the attacking half. He slowed down as defender Stathis Tavlaridis closed him down, but Tavlaridis slid into a tackle too soon, and Jóhansson cut back smoothly toward the inside and slotted a shot calmly past Michalis Sifakis in the Atromitos goal. (See video of the goal here.)
Jóhannsson transferred to AZ from AGF Aarhus in Denmark in the January transfer window 2013, after he lit the Danish league up for 14 goals in the first half of the season. So far in the 2013/14 season, he has five goals in five competitive matches, and he scored three in five appearances (all as a substitute) at the end of the last campaign.
It’s easy to see now why Jóhannsson’s decision to switch national team allegiance from Iceland enraged Icelandic FA president Geir Þorsteinsson (Thorsteinsson) so much.
U.S. striker Jozy Altidore’s form for AZ last season, before transferring to Sunderland in the Premier League this summer, carried over onto the national team in World Cup qualifying. If Jóhansson is called up for and gets playing time in the September qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico, he could easily continue the trend.
David Moyes has given Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez assurances that he’ll have the opportunity to compete for a starting role with the Hammers, but the Mexican international will have to wait a bit for a chance.
[ MORE: North London Derby takes center stage Saturday morning ]
Hernandez, 29, is currently nursing a hamstring strain, leaving his status for this weekend against Watford in doubt.
“I think everyone knows he [Chicharito] has got a hamstring injury,” Moyes said during Friday’s press conference. “It could take a week, it could take two weeks.”
Moyes didn’t mince words recently when speaking about Chicharito and other players within the squad, essentially pointing out that no player will be awarded a starting role simply because of their stardom.
Hernandez has scored four goals in 13 matches this season for West Ham, who currently sits 18th in the Premier League. The Hammers have won just two matches to start the 2017/18 campaign and sit on nine points.
Miami FC quickly put itself on the U.S. soccer map in two short seasons, and much of the club’s success can be attributed to manager Alessandro Nesta.
[ MORE: Chris Coleman steps down with Wales, expected to take Sunderland job ]
The former Serie A defender has managed the club in its first two years of existence, but Nesta’s time in South Beach is coming to an end.
Nesta revealed on Friday that he won’t be returning to the NASL club in 2018, as he prepares to fnd a “new challenge” in his managerial career.
With NASL’s future as a league very much up in the air, Nesta could be seeking a more stable position entering 2018, especially given that his name has been thrown around with several MLS jobs over the last few months.
It isn’t always the score at the end of the match that matters, and Orlando City proved that with its recent friendly to benefit those affected by hurricanes in Puerto Rico.
[ MORE: Whitecaps announce USL affiliation with expansion side Fresno FC ]
Orlando City faced off with the Puerto Rico national team on Nov. 4, which the Lions won 6-1, but it was the club’s humanitarian efforts that proved to be the real story from the event.
The club announced that it raised $327,530 from the match, with all proceeds from the event going directly to the Puerto Rican people.
“I’m very proud of what our Club and our partners were able to accomplish,” Orlando City SC owner Flavio Augusto da Silva said in a team statement. “What we did meant more than just raising funds for Puerto Rico. Once again, we came together as a community to rally behind something bigger than us all.”
The Vancouver Whitecaps will continue their stake in USL next season, but it won’t be with their current affiliate.
[ MORE: Caleb Porter out with the Portland Timbers ]
The Western Conference side announced on Friday that it will bring a new affiliate into USL in 2018 as Fresno FC makes its debut in the Division II league.
In the wake of this decision by the Whitecaps, the club’s current USL side, Vancouver Whitecaps 2, won’t be returning to the league in the near future.
“First of all, we would like to thank every person who has worked tirelessly with Whitecaps FC 2 over the past three seasons,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “With both the USL and Canadian soccer landscapes evolving, now is the right time to make this change for our club. We are delighted to be working with Fresno FC, where the USL will provide the opportunity for high-level competition that will benefit our first team in MLS in the future. We expect that the internal competition for playing time at Fresno FC will provide a tremendous and challenging environment for our top young players.”
The relationship between Vancouver and Fresno will operate similarly to the club’s former status with Whitecaps 2, which allows the senior team to send players down and sign them to MLS contracts when seen fit by the club.
Former MLS manager Frank Yallop serves as general manager for the new USL side, while Adam Smith has been named Fresno’s first head coach.