It wasn't necessarily his prettiest effort, but AZ Alkmaar striker and U.S. men's national team forward Aron Jóhannsson scored again on Thursday, with his penalty kick rolling by Anzhi Mackhachkala goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov in the 29th minute of their UEFA Europa League game.
Kerzhakov guessed correctly and got down to his left quickly, but the ball sprung off both hands and over the goal line to give AZ an early 1-0 lead. With the one-goal win, the Dutch team takes a slim lead into the return leg of the round of 16 matchup next week.
Watch the handball leading to the penalty and Johannsson's PK below:
It was Jóhannsson’s 25th goal of the season in all competitions, and a half-dozen more would tie Jozy Altidore’s record for Americans abroad. Altidore scored 31 goals when he and Jóhannsson were teammates at AZ last year.
Altidore has since struggled at Sunderland in the Premier League, where he has only managed two goals in all competitions for the Black Cats. With Jóhannsson continuing to score, he is giving head coach Jürgen Klinsmann more food for thought ahead of the World Cup. Typically, forwards are chosen for the World Cup roster based on past contributions and who is the hot hand. Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle found good form ahead of the 2010 World Cup, leading to their inclusions in the squad. At this point, Jóhannsson’s selection is likely already be a given. He has continued the prolific scoring rate he displayed at Aarhus in Denmark before moving to AZ, and he has only missed out on one U.S. squad — made up primarily of domestic-based players — since his first call-up in August 2013 against Bosnia-Herzegovina.