If only the U.S. national team could borrow some of Jozy Altidore’s goals from the Dutch league, what a happy man Jurgen Klinsmann would be.
Altidore scored his 31st goal of the season Thursday to lead AZ Alkmaar to its first Dutch Cup title in 31 years with a 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven. The win means Alkmaar will compete in the Europa League next season.
Altidore scored 23 goals in the league this season and eight in the Cup, setting a record for most goals by an American for a European club. Clint Dempsey previously held the record with 23 goals for Fulham in 2011-12.
“I’m just so happy to win something,” he told MLSSoccer.com. “I told the guys, it’s not every day you get in this position. You never know — I may never get this chance again in my career. It’s been a tough season, with a lot of ups and downs, but it’s great to win a championship.”
The question now is whether he can find the net as regularly when he puts on his USA jersey. The U.S. team has important World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras this summer, and the team needs his production. Klinsmann opens camp May 21 in Carson, Calif., but Altidore, who is from Boca Raton, might not be there for the start because Alkmaar probably won’t release him in time.
He hopes to be with the national team in time for a May 29 friendly against Belgium in Cleveland and a June 2 friendly against Germany in Washington. The World Cup qualifier against Jamaica is June 7.
Altidore’s success has led to rumors that he will be picked up by another club this summer, but Alkmaar general manager Earnie Stewart, the former U.S. national team player, told reporters in recent days that the Cheese Farmers (the team’s nickname) would like to keep him.
• Huge shoes to fill: Manchester United chose to go with David Moyes, another no-nonsense Scot, to replace legend Sir Alex Ferguson, who is retiring at age 71 after 26 years at the helm of the iconic club.
Moyes, 50, comes from Everton, where he spent 11 years making the most of what he had while working with a shoestring budget. When he took over the club, it was on the verge of relegation. Although it never won the Premier League title, Moyes made it respectable, typically finishing between fifth and seventh place.
“I am delighted that Sir Alex saw fit to recommend me for the job,” Moyes said in a statement. “I have great respect for everything he has done and for the football club. I know how hard it will be to follow the best manager ever. But the opportunity to manage Manchester United isn’t something that comes around very often.”
United could have made a bigger splash with a name such as Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, but chose Moyes instead.
Expectations will be much higher at Old Trafford than they were at Everton. Ferguson led Manchester United to 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League titles and five FA Cups. United officials and players believe he is up to the challenge.
“We have secured a man who is committed to the long term and will build teams for the future as well as now,” said Bobby Charlton, a club director. “Stability breeds success. David has tremendous strength of character and recognizes the importance of bringing young players through and developing them alongside world-class talent.”
Said co-chairman Joel Glazer: “His hard-working style and steely determination are characteristics we value at the club. He has impressed as a coach for many years now, and we strongly believe he will be able to take up from where Alex is leaving off by continuing this club’s tradition of flair football played by exciting, world class players.”
• Peruvian Cinderella: The best story in the Copa Libertadores this year is Real Garcilaso, a four-year-old Peruvian club that reached the quarterfinals with a shocking win on aggregate over Nacional of Uruguay.
Garcilaso, named after a famous Peruvian historian and writer, was founded in 2009 by a group of former students who wanted to add a team in the southeastern city of Cusco. The first year, the club’s roster consisted of mostly 17- and 18-year-olds. The next year, it earned a spot in Copa Peru and was the league runner-up, qualifying for the Copa Libertadores. Now, the team is in the Libertadores final eight. How can you not root for this team?
• Box office: Germany and Ecuador, both ranked in the top 10 in the FIFA world rankings, will play a friendly May 29 at FAU Stadium. Tickets are available through the school box office.
Spain plays Haiti on June 8 at Sun Life Stadium in a friendly that will serve as the Spanish national team’s preparation for the Confederations Cup in Brazil later that month. Spain will be bringing its full “A” roster, including many stars from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Tickets start at $29 and a limited number of VIP field seats will be made available. All ticketholders will be invited to watch practice at the stadium the day before the match. Fans can purchase tickets at www.sunlifestadium.com and www.ticketmaster.com or by calling the stadium box office at (305) 943-8000.
On June 23, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers play Brazilian club Cruzeiro at Lockhart Stadium.