The Sunderland Echo is reporting that Sunderland manager Gus Poyet believes United States striker Jozy Altidore is the happiest he has ever seen him.
The comments come just four days after Sunderland’s season opening 2-2 draw with West Brom where Altidore came off the bench as an 81st minute substitute. Altidore’s introduction into the match helped spur the Black Cats’ attack and four minutes later they were level through a tidy Sebastian Larsson finish.
Altidore arrived back on Wearside following a difficult summer where his World Cup dreams were cut short after pulling up with a hamstring injury in the Ghana match. Since then the American has worked hard to gain his fitness back but, according to Poyet, still has some ways to go.
For Poyet, the upside is that he currently has three forwards – Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham and Altidore – all of whom he sees as capable of contributing. “The idea is always to have options,” Poyet said. “We talk about Fletch and Connor, but I can say that I’ve never seen Jozy as happy as now. I’ve got no explanation for that. But he looks really happy and knows everything that is going to happen and why.”
While Altidore recovers, Poyet plans on easing him into the attack through the role of super-sub. “[Jozy] knows where he’s standing, knows he’s started later and knows he cannot play 90 minutes right now. He knows the importance of maybe the last half-hour for us. Hopefully then we’ll see the Jozy of the last five games [of last season]. That’s great for us. He knows his role in the team for the next month.”
In this way, the hamstring injury could prove a blessing in disguise for Altidore, who heads into this season free from the pressure to produce that he may have felt last year as a high-profile transfer. Instead, the 24-year-old striker can now focus on improving his fitness, impacting matches and, eventually, winning back that starting spot.
Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup).
Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit.
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That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.
That said, the Reds didn’t have to play at all last week, while this will be Spurs third match in a week. Spurs have been to the EFL Cup final thrice since 2008, and one of two teams (Chelsea) to make three finals this decade. Liverpool will start Simon Mignolet between the sticks.
The remaining four EFL Cup matches include at least one team outside the Premier League.
— Arsenal will host USMNT midfielder Danny Williams and Reading.
— Hull City is off to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.
— Newcastle United is leading the Championship, and will get a visit from Preston North End in the first of two matches between the two sides this week.
— Norwich City will pay a visit to Elland Road and Garry Monk‘s Leeds United.
FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.
One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.
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A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.
Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.
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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.
Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.
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The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.
The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.
HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.
“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.
Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.
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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.
Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.
Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast