NICK LEYDEN - Sunday, August 12, 2012
Jozy Altidore opened the Eredivisie season with a two superb goals for AZ, while Charles Kazlauskas also got his name in the box score for Helmond Sport a division below.
AFC Ajax 2-2 AZ Alkmaar
AZ began their season with an unenviable trip to the Amsterdam ArenA to take on defending champions Ajax, but Jozy Altidore made sure the guests would leave with a share of the points.
Altidore struggled in the opening stages, and Gregory Van Der Wiel put Ajax ahead in only the 9th minute with a 25 yard laser that left Esteban Alvarado no chance in the AZ net.
Despite the early deficit AZ maintained their composure and Altidore's two goals within the first five minutes of the second half ensured a positive start to the season.
The New Jersey native's first tally came in the 48th minute with a goal that flashed the physical dominance US fans hope to see regularly from the 22 year old.
After receiving a long ball near the top left corner of the box Altidore skipped past one defender and then sent Van Der Wiel flying to the turf following the Dutch international's shoulder to shoulder challenge. With only the ‘keeper to beat Altidore expertly curled the ball towards the far post, leveling the score.
Just two minutes later Altidore put the AZ ahead, this time with the help of Maarten Martens.
With his back to goal about thirty yards out, Altidore received a pass from the midfield and flicked a back heel to Martens with his first touch. Altidore then took off towards goal and the Belgian international midfielder played the ball into his path in the box, allowing Altidore to strike a one-timer with his right foot into the roof of the net at the near post.
Though Kolbeinn Sigthorsson did equalize for Ajax in the 83rd minute, and Altidore was replaced by Ruud Boymans in the 84th, the former New York Red Bull's man of the match performance certainly bodes well for the remainder of the season.
AZ next take the field against Heracles on 8/19.
Telstar 1-2 Helmond Sport
In Eerste Divisie action Helmond Sport also got their season off to a strong start with an away win at Telstar, thanks in part to a Charles Kazlauskas goal.
The Wisconsin native opened Helmond Sport's account for the season with a 47th minute strike that temporarily gave the guests the lead.
After holding the ball up near the top of the box Sebastian Stachnik slipped it into the path of Kazlauskas' overlapping run, and the versatile American hit a low shot with his first touch into the far corner.
Leandro Resida tied the game for Telstar in the 71st minute with a highlight reel goal of his own following a quick step-over move and a beautifully curled shot to the back post.
But the visitors would laugh last when Emrullah Güvenc slotted home a penalty kick in the 86th minute, giving Helmond Sport the full three points from their season opener.
Kaz and crew will next suit up against Almere City on 8/17.