Gus Poyet: Sunderland’s style needs to serve Jozy Altidore

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Most Americans will agree, Jozy Altidore’s second effort at the Premier League isn’t exactly going according to plan.

Since arriving at Sunderland this summer from Dutch club AZ for a fee of $9.6 million pounds, Altidore has gone scoreless in his first 10 Premier League matches.

It’s a run of form that is strangely reminiscent of Altidore’s first taste of the English top-flight back in 2009-10 when he scored merely one goal in 28 appearances while on loan with Hull City.

But it’s also a run of form that’s completely at odds with the American striker’s national team form, having scored eight goals in his last 10 games for the Stars & Stripes.

How to make sense of these polar opposite goal-hauls gel is perplexing. So is it time to panic at the Stadium of Light?

‘Absolutely not,’ is the response from Black Cats manager Gustavo Poyet.

“Sometimes it is hard — it is very easy to look at a player and say: ‘Oh, he doesn’t score goals.’ But sometimes you have to look at how you play, especially if that player has scored in other teams and not in yours.”

“In a situation like this, I always analyze myself when I used to play,” Poyet said. “What worked for me as a player? Well, I needed crosses, so the worst team I played in was my national team.

“In my national team in the years that I played, we were a team that played through the middle — we never played the ball out wide. No wingers. That meant we weren’t crossing and that meant I could not score. I was rubbish!

“So then people would be saying: ‘Why is it that he is scoring so many goals in Europe when he can’t score for the national team?’ And the answer was simple — different teams. The Uruguay team’s style did not suit my game and this is my point at Sunderland. We need to find a style and a system which plays to the strengths of our best players.

“If you don’t do that for Jozy, then it is going to be difficult for him to score and we will work on that.”

Poyet’s words make plenty of sense and the Uruguayan’s patience will undoubtedly endear him to the Yank faithful, who so desperately want to see their star striker produce at the highest level.

Despite his lack of goals, Altidore has performed well for Sunderland and seems to be striking up a nice partnership with Steven Fletcher.

If Poyet can manage to get Altidore service from wingers like Emanuele Giaccherini and Adam Johnson, one should expect the scoring tides to turn sooner rather than later.

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)

VIDEO: A sneak peek of Everton’s Europa League journey – Part 2

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In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.

Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.

[ MORE: Live Europa League scores

[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ] 

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/everton-unseen-part-2-everton-host-mfk-ruzomberok-europa-league

FIFA to send in emergency team to run Cameroon football

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.

The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.

FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.

CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.

FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”