Soccer fans of a certain age know a bit about Ajax, the Dutch club that set that became the developmental standard bearer back in the day. Ajax was Barcelona before Barcelona was Barcelona.
And fans might know a little about PSV Eindhoven, the club where DaMarcus Beasley made his European bones.
Recent years have taught us a bit about Alkmaar, mostly because of Jozy Altidore’s high-scoring ways at the smaller Dutch outfit. Now, fellow U.S. international Aron Johannsson is doing the goal-scoring business at Alkmaar, which has kept the club on our radar. (Also because former U.S. international Earnie Stewart is in charge of building that club in his role as technical director.)
But beyond that, most of us look past the Dutch Eredivisie, turning our gaze to the “sexier” leagues abroad, the hifalutin associations in England, Spain, Germany and Italy.
So maybe it’s time to get to know a wee bit more, to amp up our Eredivisie shelf of knowledge.
(MORE: Agudelo not giving up 2014 World Cup hopes)
Greg Seltzer is an Amsterdam-based writer who contributes regularly to MLSSoccer.com. And he has delivered an excellent primer on Juan Agudelo’s new club.
Among the gems you’ll find in Seltzer’s thorough get-acquainted piece: Manager Jan Wouters, a former Dutch international, has worked previously with U.S. internationals Beasley, John O’Brien and Claudio Reyna.
It’s highly unlikely that Agudelo will be there past this spring. Still, it won’t kill you to know a little more about our soccer world, eh?
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday