Altidore

Jozy Altidore’s two goals lead AZ’s Dutch Cup upset of Ajax

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AZ pulled off the upset today, going to Amsterdam to hand Dutch titans Ajax a surprising 3-0 loss in the KNVB Cup semifinals. While the club still has significant relegation worries in the Eredivisie, two goals by Jozy Altidore and a John Gudmundsson tally in between have pushed AZ into the Dutch Cup final.

There AZ will take on PSV, the league-leaders posting their own 3-0 win at PEC Zwolle on Wednesday. The winners get a ticket into Europa League, but if PSV holds off Ajax to take a league they currently lead by two points, AZ make Europe thanks to their place in the final.

With his double, Altidore now sits on 23 all-competition goals this season, equalling the mark Clint Dempsey posted for Fulham last year. Between league and cup, AZ’s schedule gives Altidore 11 games to set a new mark for U.S. internationals.

Sunday’s visit to RKC Waalwijk, a team that’s winless in nine, will be Altidore’s first chance to notch No. 24.

Here’s Altidore’s first goal of the day:

It’s probably not a good idea to let Altidore attack your right back like that. Ricardo van Rhijn, Ajax’s defender on the play, only gives up one inch in height to Altidore. The Dutch international also has a lot of experience as a center back, none of which helped on the play.

Jozy’s second on the day? Here’s where it gets fun:

True, the goal was a bit of a gift, but we see other players miss that shot all the time. Besides, Altidore may have deserved a second for his holdup play on Gudmundsson’s score, effort that have the big American an assist.

Two goals and one assist in a win at Ajax? Jozy may play this game for 15 more years and not have a better day than that.

I hope he’s enjoying his night in Amsterdam. You put up that kind of night against Ajax? You deserve it.

Video(s): This is what a Jozy Alitdore hat trick looks like

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Fourteen goals in 18 games. From one player. You need to know the context for those numbers — the competition, the player’s role, etc. — but there are very few realistic circumstances where that total shouldn’t give you pause. It’s impressive for a high school player. It’s impressive in college, and if it’s on the professional level, it’s extremely impressive.

That’s where 23-year-old Jozy Altidore stands after today’s hat trick for AZ. Against visiting Vitesse, Altidore leapt into a tie for second on the Eredivisie scoring list with three second half goals, leading his team to a 4-1 victory.

It started in the 55th minute, with Altidore in the right place as the opposing keeper misread a cross, jumped under the ball to leave an open goal for the American striker:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA6bfjzIDCU]

Nine minutes later with AZ up 2-0, Vitesse’s defense completely forgets about one of the league’s leading scorers:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zl6C48pWtQ]

And to cap his day, Altidore is again forgetten in front of goal.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dHI3K2x4Gg]

It’s some of the worst defending you’ll see at this level, but that’s why hat tricks are so rare. How many times do you say “how did that player score three past that amazing defending?”

Credit to Altidore and his teammates. Presented with an opportunity, they took advantage of it.

Big picture: We know Altidore can score goals. Particularly this year, this is nothing new. It’s the other parts of this game where results have become more important.

But at worst, hat tricks are really fun. And it’s a good indication that Altidore’s desire to improve other facets of his game isn’t compromising what you might call his core business.

With a trip to Honduras just around the corner, U.S. Men’s National Team fans have reason to be excited about Alitdore.

Jozy scores again: Altidore’s clearly gotten the hang of this Eredivisie-thing

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It’s now seven goals in six league games, five in his last four overall for Jozy Altidore, though the young American may need a little help with his celebrations. After his 24th minute goal today against RKC Waalwijk, Altidore took what can be generously described as a coordinated tumble. Not that he hadn’t earned it. Not even a full face plant would he detracted from the quality of his goal in Alkmaar.

With the match tied 1-1, Altidore came back for a ball played in from the center line, turned, and beat three defenders before finishing inside the left post.

This is one of the better Altidore goals you’ve seen:

Even though the Eredivisie is not the most difficult scoring environment, it’s nice to see a young star regaining his confidence. We all know the troubles Altidore’s gone through since leaving Major League Soccer for Europe. That goal is something you wouldn’t have seen Altidore try during more challenging times. You probably wouldn’t see him try to do that for the U.S. national team, either.

A full year of this type of production could go a long way for the 22-year-old, even if his current goalscoring rate (and the ease of that goal) hint Altidore may be quickly outgrowing the Dutch league. But let’s worry about that in May. For now, it looks like it’s going to be a highlight-filled season for Altidore.