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Altidore continues to quiet doubters, more Americans Abroad

Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Jozy Altidore ranks fourth in the Dutch league with 11 goals this season.

Jozy Altidore's two goals Saturday had to make the U.S. national team technical staff crack a smile.

The finishes were not overwhelmingly glorious: into an empty net and a completion of a quick counterattack. The manner in which Altidore set himself up for the goals and the details in the build-up, though, were where the beauty could be found. Altidore also boosted his Dutch club, AZ Alkmaar, which was mired in a six-game winless streak. With a ball in the opening moments heading harmlessly back toward the PEC Zwolle goal, Altidore turned on the jets in the open field to outrace a lackadaisical defender who had a solid five-yard head start. Even after the Zwolle goalkeeper came out to halt Altidore's momentum and momentarily take the ball off his foot, the American striker stayed with the play to capitalize.

Altidore's positional sense and communication skills led to his second goal a half-hour later. Being cognizant of his place on the field, Altidore held his run while AZ was poised to pounce on the counter to ensure he was onside for the ensuing breakout. On top of that, he also gave a quick signal to point man Adam Maher at the top of the developing attacking triangle to pass to teammate Roy Beerens first in order to set up the textbook marauding run down the heart of the field. Those little details set the simple finish in motion, and for a player often criticized by outsiders for his lack of hustle, work rate and game sense, Altidore did well to quell those shouts while snapping a personal scoring drought that had stretched to four games.

Elsewhere among high-profile Americans, Tim Howard joined exclusive company by making his 200th straight start in the Premier League. The active leader in consecutive games played after Brad Friedel had his streak snapped earlier this season, Howard joined his fellow American as the only two players to reach that landmark. One of his more dependable options in front of him on the national team, Carlos Bocanegra, also made news this week with his early return from a hamstring tear. The U.S. captain was supposed to miss six weeks with the injury suffered in international duty on Nov. 14, but he returned for Racing Santander over the weekend with plenty of time to reach maximum form and fitness ahead of the Feb. 6 World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

The three national team stalwarts highlighted the week that was for Americans playing abroad, with the rest of the contingent turning in a fairly quiet set of performances. Here is how they all fared (season statistics encompass all competitions):

England

Premier League

Geoff Cameron, D/M, Stoke City -- Started, played 90 minutes in Stoke City's 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday. SEASON: 17 games, 16 starts

Cody Cropper, GK, Southampton -- Southampton's match against Chelsea was postponed because of the Blues' involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup. SEASON: 0 games

Clint Dempsey, M/F, Tottenham -- Started, played 70 minutes in Tottenham's 1-0 win over Swansea City on Sunday. SEASON: 22 games, 19 starts, 3 goals

Maurice Edu, D/M, Stoke City -- Not in the 18 for Stoke City's 1-1 draw with Everton. SEASON: 1 game

Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham -- In the 18, did not play in Tottenham's 1-0 win over Swansea City. SEASON: 11 games, 11 starts, 17 goals allowed

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa -- In the 18, did not play in Villa's 4-1 win over Norwich City in the League Cup quarterfinals Tuesday. Guzan started, played 90 minutes and made seven saves in a 3-1 win over Liverpool in league play Saturday. SEASON: 16 games, 16 starts, 20 goals allowed, 6 clean sheets

Tim Howard, GK, Everton -- Started, played 90 minutes and made four saves in Everton's 1-1 draw with Stoke City on Saturday. The game was Howard's 200th consecutive Premier League start. SEASON: 17 games, 17 starts, 20 goals allowed, 2 clean sheets

Eric Lichaj, D, Aston Villa -- Started, played 90 minutes and had an assist in Villa's 4-1 win over Norwich City in the League Cup quarterfinals. Lichaj also started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 win over Liverpool in league play. SEASON: 16 games, 9 starts

League Championship

Conor Doyle, F, Derby County -- In the 18, did not play in Derby County's 2-0 win over Bristol City on Saturday. SEASON: 2 games, 1 start

Robbie Findley, F, Nottingham Forest -- Not in the 18 for Nottingham Forest's 0-0 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. SEASON: 7 games, 3 starts (all with Gillingham)

Stuart Holden, M, Bolton -- Not in the 18 for Bolton's 2-0 win over Charlton Athletic on Saturday. SEASON: 0 games

Will Packwood, D/M, Birmingham City -- Not in the 18 for Birmingham City's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday. SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts

Tim Ream, D, Bolton -- In the 18, did not play in Bolton's 2-0 win over Charlton Athletic. SEASON: 9 games, 7 starts

Jonathan Spector, D/M, Birmingham City -- Not in the 18 for Birmingham City's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. SEASON: 20 games, 17 starts, 1 goal

Zak Whitbread, D, Leicester City -- Started, played 90 minutes in Leicester City's 1-0 loss to Millwall on Saturday. SEASON: 13 games, 12 starts, 1 goal

League One

Mike Grella, F, Scunthorpe United -- In the 18, did not play in Scunthorpe United's 3-1 win over Leyton Orient on Saturday. SEASON: 15 games, 10 starts, 2 goals

Robbie Rogers, M, Stevenage -- In the 18, did not play in Stevenage's 2-1 loss to Crawley Town on Saturday. SEASON: 9 games, 3 starts

Frank Simek, D, Carlisle United -- Started, played 90 minutes in Carlisle's 2-1 loss to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday. SEASON: 22 games, 20 starts

Germany

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, D, FC Nurnberg -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Nurnberg's 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen on Sunday. SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts, 1 goal

Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 -- Started, played 90 minutes in Hannover's 2-1 loss to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday. SEASON: 27 games, 26 starts

Fabian Johnson, D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- Started, played 90 minutes in Hoffenheim's 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund on Sunday. SEASON: 17 games, 17 starts, 3 goals

Jermaine Jones, M, FC Schalke 04 -- Not in the 18 for Schalke's 3-1 loss to SC Freiburg on Saturday. Jones was serving the first game of his four-match ban for a red card. The suspension, coupled with the Bundesliga winter break, means he won't be eligible to return to the field in league play for Schalke (which just underwent a managerial change as well) until Feb. 9. SEASON: 20 games, 17 starts, 1 goal

Danny Williams, M, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- Not in the 18 for Hoffenheim's 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund. SEASON: 13 games, 12 starts, 1 goal

2. Bundesliga

John Anthony Brooks, D, Hertha Berlin -- Started, played 90 minutes in Hertha Berlin's 2-1 win over FSV Frankfurt on Saturday. SEASON: 15 games, 12 starts

Joe Gyau, M, St. Pauli -- In the 18, came on as a 77th-minute substitute in St. Pauli's 0-0 draw with FC Ingolstadt 04 on Saturday. SEASON: 8 games, 2 starts

Alfredo Morales, D, Hertha Berlin -- Not in the 18 for Hertha Berlin's 2-1 victory over FSV Frankfurt. SEASON: 1 game

Bobby Wood, F, TSV 1860 Munich -- In the 18, came on in the 58th minute of Munich's 1-1 draw with Dynamo Dresden on Sunday. SEASON: 5 games, 3 starts, 1 goal

Andrew Wooten, F, SV Sandhausen -- Started, played 85 minutes in Sandhausen's 0-0 draw with FC Cologne on Friday. SEASON: 14 games, 7 starts, 3 goals

Italy

Serie A

Michael Bradley, M, AS Roma -- Started, played 90 minutes in Roma's 3-0 win over Atalanta in the Round of 16 of the Coppa Italia on Tuesday. Bradley also started and played 68 minutes in Roma's 1-0 loss to Chievo Verona in league play Sunday. SEASON: 12 games, 11 starts, 1 goal

Spain

Primera Division

Oguchi Onyewu, D, Malaga -- Not in the 18 for Malaga's 2-0 win over Sevilla on Saturday. SEASON: 6 games, 5 starts, 1 goal

Segunda Division

Carlos Bocanegra, D, Racing Santander -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Racing Santander's 1-0 loss to CD Sabadell on Sunday. SEASON: 15 games, 15 starts (7 games, 7 starts with Rangers)

Netherlands

Eredivisie

Jozy Altidore, F, AZ Alkmaar -- Started, played 90 minutes and scored two goals in AZ's 2-1 win over PEC Zwolle on Saturday. Altidore outran a defender for a ball headed back toward the goal and stayed with the play after the on-rushing goalkeeper got a touch on the ball in the box to finish in the second minute. He then finished off a quick breakout in the 33rd minute, the recipient of a pass across the box to help his side halt a six-game winless stretch in league play. SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts, 14 goals

Belgium

Pro League

Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Anderlecht's 1-1 draw with Gent in the first leg of the Belgian Cup quarterfinals Tuesday. Kljestan also started and played 90 minutes in Anderlecht's 2-1 win over OH Leuven in league play Sunday. SEASON: 28 games, 21 starts, 2 goals

Austria

Bundesliga

Terrence Boyd, F, Rapid Vienna -- Started, played 90 minutes in Rapid Vienna's 1-0 loss to Wiener Neustadt on Saturday. SEASON: 28 games, 23 starts, 13 goals

Portugal

Primeira Liga

Caleb Patterson-Sewell, GK, Vitoria Setubal -- Vitoria Setubal did not have a match this past week. SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts, 7 goals allowed

Tony Taylor, F, Estoril Praia -- Not in the 18 for Estoril's 3-0 loss to Sporting Braga on Sunday. SEASON: 6 games, 3 starts

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