AZ (football club)

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.

Dutch club Den Bosch issues apology to Jozy Altidore

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For as terrible as their fans were during yesterday’s KNVB Cup match against AZ, Den Bosch’s management has done whatever it takes to make clear the club in no way condones the racist behavior their supporters directed at AZ striker Jozy Altidore. With officials front-and-center after the game, the club expressed embarrassment, conceded the hardcore fringe of their fanbase had become a problem, and made no excuses for the ghastly display that, for one day, gave their club an international profile.

Today Den Bosch issued an apology via the club’s web site, a declaration that made clear the extent to which the supporters have scarred their club.  Portraying the offending fans as “hooligans,” Den Bosch described themselves as “upset and disappointed” at behavior which “ruined the week-long preparation by the club, supporters and volunteers”. While expressing their regret to Altidore, the club promised to pursue, capture, and punish those responsible for the incident”

Den Bosch director Peter Bijvelds, who had addressed the crowd at half-time with an appeal for the abuse to stop, said: “FC Den Bosch will, aided by all those people who do good for their club, do everything in their power in the coming period to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“They do not belong in De Vliert (the Den Bosch stadium) and will have the most severe sanctions imposed on them.”

This may seem like an obligatory response, but as we’ve seen elsewhere, other fan groups have been able to reach points where they can’t be controlled. Those groups end up permanently tarnishing a club’s image, but with the vigilant response Bijvelds has led at Den Bosch, his club will be defined by their actions as opposed to stupidity of their supporters.

Jozy Altidore subjected to racist abuse in Dutch Cup match

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European soccer’s racism problems hit close to home Tuesday for one U.S. soccer star, with AZ striker Jozy Altidore subjected to monkey chants and other race-based derision during today’s KNVB Cup match at second-tier Den Bosch.

“I’m deeply hurt by these people,” Den Bosch’s director told reporters at De Vliert stadium in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. “I’m ashamed of what just happened. I have no words for it.”

The abuse, which later escalated to fans throwing objects onto the field, forced officials to momentarily stop the match in the second half. Altidore continued playing and notched a goal and an assist in AZ’s 5-0 victory.

“It is terribly sad that this can happen for those involved and for lovers of football in the Netherlands,” former U.S. international Earnie Stewart told a television audience at halftime. Stewart is AZ’s director of football.

Two times in the second half the public address system warned the section of Des Bosch fans responsible for the chants about their inappropriate behavior. The second warning coincided with the pause in the match, with fans cautioned that a final announcement would lead to the cancellation of the match.

According to AP reports, referee Reinold Wiedemeijer wanted to stop the match; however, Altidore “persuaded him not to.”

MORE: Den Bosch issues apology to Jozy Altidore

This isn’t the first time a high-profile American has suffered racial abuse in the Europe. DeMarcus Beasley, during his time at PSV Einhoven from 2004 to 2007, described being targeted by monkey noises. In 2009, Maurice Edu claimed to the the target of racial abuse while at Rangers.

Also in 2009, defender Oguchi Onyewu was involved in a high profile incident while at Standard Liege in Belgium. Onyewu claimed Anderlecht defender Jelle Van Damme called him a “dirty ape.” Onyewu later sued over the act but withdrew his claim after getting an apology from Van Damme.

Unfortunately, 23-year-old Altidore’s name is now added to the list of high profile Americans who have experienced the worst of European soccer. In reality, it’s unlikely this is the first time Altidore’s had to play through such abuse. As of today, it’s probably just the best known.

On a day when most at home would have celebrated his 20th all-competition goal of the season, Altidore makes headlines because of the ignorance of a group of Den Bosch supporters.

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.