Aron Johannsson with AZ Alkmaar
Courtesy of AZ Alkmaar

American Exports: Aron Johannsson bags two goals, assist to snare Europa League spot for AZ Alkmaar

Aron Jóhannsson was the star of the show in the Netherlands on Sunday, netting two goals and an assist as AZ Alkmaar swept aside Excelsior 4-1 to claim third place on the final day of the Dutch Eredivisie season.

The Icelandic-American striker scored on a stunning bicycle kick just five minutes into the match, set up Steven Berghuis’ strike a minute later and thumped home a header 11 minutes into the second half to put Excelsior – who narrowly avoided finishing in the bottom three – to the sword.

Jóhannsson’s US national team colleague and former Alkmaar teammate Jozy Altidore, despite his own worries with a hamstring injury that forced him out of Toronto FC’s 1-1 draw with New England on Saturday, took to Twitter to extend his congratulations in Dutch.

Alkmaar’s victory, combined with Feyenoord's 3-0 loss to PEC Zwolle, hands the Cheese Farmers an automatic Europa League slot for next season. Jóhannsson has now notched four goals and three assists in his club’s last five games.

Though he didn’t directly feature on the scoresheet, US international Rubio Rubin was centrally involved in another wild Eredivisie goalfest on Sunday as FC Utrecht drew Vitesse Arnhem 3-3.

Rubin played all 90 minutes of a see-saw battle that saw Vitesse seize an early 2-0 lead, then fall behind 3-2 on three consecutive Utrecht goals before Zakaria Labyad scored in the 89th minute to salvage a draw for the home side.

In late Saturday action, A.J. Soares and Viking left it late to score a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Alex DeJohn's visiting IK Start in Norway.

Both American center backs punctuated strong outings with huge shot blocks. Soares, who would later nod inches over the bar from a restart just after intermission, cruelly denied a Kristoffer Ajer doorstep shot in the 20th minute. DeJohn enjoyed perhaps his best outing to date for Start, with his last-ditch hero moment coming to foil Samuel Adegbenro 20 minutes from time.

By winning for the fourth time in a five-game unbeaten run, Viking climbed to fourth place. On the other hand, 12th-place Start dropped their third straight road game in league play.