American Exports: Jozy Altidore reflects on "the best season I've had" in Europe
AMSTERDAM – Busy man Jozy Altidore did not hesitate to rate this past season with AZ Alkmaar as his best in terms of applying all the lessons learned throughout his career, both on and off the playing field.
Fresh off striking the KNVB Cup winner and taking a place on the Eredivisie Team of the Season in the span of six days, the 23-year-old will now take his spot on FIFA's racism task force before making his way back across the Atlantic for more World Cup qualifiers with the US national team.
All this activity comes on the heels of a campaign that included 23 league goals and 31 across all competitions, including his KNVB Cup-leading total of eight. While the biggest statistical leap of his career came last year in his first AZ season, Altidore feels this term was the one when his overall 90-minute game showed the most growth and consistency.
"I can't deny, in terms of statistics, it's probably the best season I've had," Altidore, who also added seven assists in his 41 matches, told MLSsoccer.com after celebrating AZ's first Dutch Cup triumph since 1982 last Thursday.
"In terms of becoming a better player, I'm just happy that I came to a place that gave me a chance to learn, unlike other clubs. And I think I've paid them back."
It remains to be seen if the hot transfer topic will be back in AZ colors come fall. MLSsoccer.com has learned that clubs from England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Russia and the Ukraine have either been calling or recently came out to watch him work in person.
Nevertheless, AZ technical director Earnie Stewart has publicly insisted they want their top scorer back. If he does return to AFAS Stadion, Altidore says it would be perfectly fair for fans and stateside observers to expect even bigger numbers out of him next season.
"That's always the goal, to keep on improving," he stated. "But you also have to put things in perspective. It also depends on the surroundings, what type of team you have.
"To speak about the future, I think, is premature. For now, we have to enjoy this moment. It's fantastic. When next season starts, we'll think about next season."