Fire Dutchman MacDonald "in shock" over Altidore incident
The incident of racial abuse suffered by US national team star Jozy Altidore in the Netherlands last week came as a shock to the lone Dutchman in MLS, Chicago Fire forward Sherjill MacDonald.
The 28-year-old Designated Player, who came up through the Ajax youth system and played for Dutch clubs Heracles and AGOVV Apeldoorn, admits experiencing isolated racist episodes back home, but nothing on the scale of the racism targeting Altidore during a Dutch Cup match at Den Bosch, where the the American forward had to convince the referee not to suspend the match.
"I'm really in shock that this happened [to Altidore], but I mostly didn't have a problem with this in Holland or in Belgium," MacDonald told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. "In a small village like Den Bosch, they're not really used to different cultures, so maybe that's why. But in Amsterdam and bigger cities, we don't really have problems with this.
WATCH: MacDonald's goal vs. RBNY
"It's still a shame that this thing still happens."
MacDonald praised Altidore's classy and composed reaction, both during and after the game, and the Fire striker drew the contrast with Kevin Prince-Boateng's reaction just weeks earlier when he walked off the field with the rest of his AC Milan teammates as a reaction to racist chants from opposing supporters during a club exhibition.
"I think that the best solution is to give these people the least amount of attention. If you stop the game, you get them attention and this is what they want," MacDonald said. "What Jozy Altidore did is the best decision to do. If you let the referee stop the game, you give people attention and they win. I'd never do what Boateng did. I understand it, but I would never do it that way."
In addition to the occasional bouts with racism, MacDonald has endured plenty during his time as a pro in Europe: getting locked in the team dressing room after a loss, seeing debris thrown at his team bus and even finding his car tires flattened in the player parking lot. But MacDonald notes how he's encountered a very different sporting culture in MLS -- "I like the way they support you in the US in good times and in bad times."
And the Dutchman wants nothing more than to reward those supporters with an even better season than his four-goal debut campaign of 2012. He feels that with a full preseason under his belt, and with a better understanding of the Fire's playing system — MacDonald says he had never played alone up top until last year — fans will understand why the Fire made him a DP.
"I hope that I can score a lot more goals," MacDonald said. "Last year I was not really happy with my production because I know I can do a lot more."