Jozy Altidore may have set a new career high for goals scored in a European season on Tuesday night, but AZ Alkmaar's Dutch Cup match against Den Bosch will be remembered for what happened off the field.
Den Bosch supporters directed racist chants at the American forward during AZ Alkmaar's 5-0 quarterfinal triumph, resulting in a momentary suspension of play.
"It's a bit disappointing that these things still happen in the time that we're in," Altidore told ErediviseLive.nl. "But what are you going to do? You just hope that these people can find a way to improve themselves and you can only pray for them."
While AC Milan's Kevin Prince-Boateng walked off the field in response to racial taunts during a friendly against Pro Patria earlier in January, Altidore insisted with the match referee that the Dutch Cup contest continue on Tuesday.
"We were in a good rhythm and it was important for us to keep going," Altidore continued. "I'm not going to fight them. They just have some issues and just need some help. That's all. You can only pray for them and hope they get better.
"I feel like I have an obligation as a football player to my club and to my family as well to not react to things like this and show the club stands better than that and I was raised better than this to respond to such ridiculous behavior."
Altidore drew and scored a penalty kick (watch it here), setting a new career high for goals in a single season. His 20 goals in all competitions thus far during 2012-13 is already one better than his final total of 19 for AZ Alkmaar last year. He also assisted on the final tally of the match.
The chants can be heard as Altidore stepped up to convert the PK:
Wiedemeijer wilde het duel bijna staken vanwege oerwoudgeluiden richting Altidore, maar AZ en Altidore hielden dit tegen. #dboaz 0-4— AZ (@wwwAZnl) January 29, 2013
AZ Alkmaar's official twitter feed above makes mention of the "jungle sounds chanted at Altidore."
"It's a bit disappointing because you would hope that we as humanity can grow from these tyes of times," Altidore said. "But at the end of the day it's still alive racism and all we can do is try to educate ourselves and young kids coming up to be better than that."
"It's incredibly sad that this happened," said AZ Alkmaar director of soccer and former US international Earnie Stewart. "Ridiculous. The people at Den Bosch are ashamed of this. It's not only annoying for Jozy, but for Dutch football in general."
Jozy Altidore faced some ugly abuse today & responded by playing harder & punishing the opposition. Showed some serious character & resolve— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) January 29, 2013
A sad day in the Dutch league, wherein a FC Den Bosch - AZ Alkmaar game is stopped after home supporters make monkey noises at Jozy Altidore— LeanderLastNameNoFit (@LeanderOnFOX) January 29, 2013
Altidore can be seen in the video below motioning to get on with the game — it's not too hard to lip-read the word "play." The interview with Stewart follows below.