AMSTERDAM — It was quite the fruitful Thursday for Americans playing in the Europa League, headlined by a smooth Jozy Altidore opener in AZ Alkmaar's 1-1 draw with Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine.
In the 26th minute, the striker accepted a slip pass from Adam Maher with one touch and lashed a curler home to the far post with the second. Altidore, who saw yellow for a shirt tug moments after his goal, has now hit for four in his last three Europa League outings.
Despite Taison's 76th-minute equalizer, AZ now lead Group G on goal differential through two games.
Every other US international in action celebrated a victory, with Clint Dempsey notching an assist in Fulham's 2-0 victory at Danish side Odense BK.
The attacker battled past two defenders on his way from midfield to the box, then dished off for Andy Johnson to fire the 36th-minute opener. Two of five Dempsey's attempts were on goal, with Eric Djemba-Djemba forced to clear his header off the line midway through the opening frame.
The win places Fulham second in Group K, one goal in differential behind FC Twente.
Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting CP moved clear at the top of Group D thanks to a 2-1 victory at Lazio. The center back helped the Lions close the deal while a man short for the final 40 minutes. Sporting have now won five straight since installing Onyewu into defense.
Sacha Kljestan's Anderlecht are also perfect on the Group L perch following an impressive 2-0 decision at Lokomotiv Moscow. The former Chivas USA man went his customary 90 minutes in central midfield as the Mauves dealt Lokomotiv their first defeat since June, a toppled span of 14 unbeaten matches.
Steve Cherundolo returned to the Hannover 96 lineup, captaining the visitors up to second in Group B with a 2-1 triumph at Ukrainian upstarts FC Vorskla Poltava. The right back, who went into the ref's book on the hour, helped hold off a second-half home rally attempt as Hannover stay unbeaten in Europa League road contests.
Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones saw his first action for the club since Aug. 6, coming on for the final 13 minutes of a 3-1 home win over Maccabi Haifa. The Miners wrested the Group J penthouse away from their Israeli visitors to claim a one-point edge.
Over in Group H, Jonathan Spector worked a capable full shift at right back to help Birmingham City move into second place with a 2-1 victory away to Slovenian outfit Maribor.
Meanwhile, Brad Friedel took his typical cup breather to watch from the stands as Tottenham cozied up to Group A leaders Rubin Kazan with a 3-1 win over Irish champs Shamrock Rovers.