Sunderland manager is “one of the few” not worried about Jozy Altidore

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Gus Poyet knows American striker Jozy Altidore did not have a good season at Sunderland. He isn’t going to shy away from that, nor could he with the 24-year-old scoring exactly one Premier League goal and two in all competitions for the Northeast England club.

But in an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Football Show,” Poyet insists he’s “one of the few” who is relaxed when it comes to Altidore.

He loves the Yank’s shot, attitude and effort, and can’t explain why Altidore is having more success for the United States than his club team.

Some Poyet quotes, courtesy of MLSSoccer.com’s Andrew Wiebe:

“I don’t know if it’s when you feel that you are a main player. I don’t know if the pace of the game with the national team is different than England,” Poyet said. “I don’t, I don’t know. Something is, of course, not working for us with Jozy.”

“Every game he came on, he gave us a hand – at Stamford Bridge is an example. He was always trying his best,” Poyet said. “Unfortunately, the goals didn’t come for him. But I am relaxed because if you see the power he’s got, if you see the shot – he can shoot, I can tell you that, because I see him every day. It’s just that momentum, that click that is going to be for him so important.

“But I’m quite relaxed with Jozy, to be honest. I’m one of the few. I know it’s difficult for a striker when he doesn’t score, but I like him. I like him. I like him as a boy and I like him as a player. He just couldn’t find the net. Sometimes it happens. You change clubs, and you cannot do it at one club for whatever reason.”

Of course, the reasons — or excuses, for naysayers — are plentiful. Altidore joined a newer league where it’s harder to score than the goal-happy Eredivisie. It’s also likely that it’s easier to score in CONCACAF than it is in the Premier League as well.

But it’s good to hear that Poyet isn’t having massive doubts about Altidore, especially when a strong World Cup can buoy the forward, well, forward. If the striker can come back to the Stadium of Light in fine form, it sounds like Poyet won’t be hesitant to deploy his American target man.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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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.

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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.

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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