Altidore's effort at Villareal has Everton eyeing a loan deal.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
and Chris Courtney (in Naples, Italy)
(Thursday, January 8, 2009) -- The 2008-2009 European season has reached its midpoint with a number of leagues on winter break.
An American definitely on the rise is young striker Jozy Altidore and apparently has caught the eye of Everton of the English Premier League, which would like to obtain him on loan. FIFA.com's "World Football" has named Altidore one of a number of "young players poised to make it big over the next 12 months."
The former member of Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls signed a six-year contract with Villarreal of La Liga with the Spanish club paying MLS a transfer fee reportedly close to $10 million.
After coach Manuel Pellegrini got a good look at the 19-year-old, he indicated that it was likely Villarreal would lend him out, probably during this month's transfer period so he would be able to get playing time that he would not otherwise receive. However, a rash of injuries and suspension problems have forced Pellegrini to use Altidore much more than he had planned.
On November 1, Altidore scored his first La Liga goal moments after coming off the bench in the 89th minute of a 4-1 road victory over Athletic Bilbao. After a run into the box, Altidore took a pass from Santi Cazorla and slotted it into the bottom left corner.
In early December, Villarreal was saying while it was still possible that Altidore would be loaned out, it was more likely he would be retained and see more playing time given the team's continuing injury problems.
Now Everton has entered the picture. Everton manager David Moyes has said he can't doesn't have the money currently to afford a permanent transfer to bolster his depleted attack, but he would like to bring Altidore in for the short term to join his United States men's teammate, goalkeeper Tim Howard.
According to the Spanish media, Villarreal has turned down Everton's initial offer, but talks are said to be continuing.
U.S. midfielder Freddy Adu is another young American whose European fortunes appear to be on the rise as a member of France's AS Monaco. Since arriving last summer after a strong performance at the Under-20 Men's World Cup, Adu has found it hard to get minutes with the first team in Monaco's crowded midfield.
Yet, gradually he has begun to accumulate playing time. This week in Torino Italy, he put in a strong performance in a friendly match against powerful host Juventus with Monaco prevailing 6-5 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw.
In the 13th minute, Adu beat two defenders and nearly scored. Twenty two minutes later, his pièce de résistance came when he again infiltrated the Juventus penalty area, but was taken down, Croatian teammate Jerko Leko nailed the subsequent penalty kick past Gigi Buffon to give his team the 1-0 lead.
Adu helped to create a few more dangerous chances in the second half before being replaced by youngster Valère Germain in the 68th minute. Juve's Vincenzo Iaquinta saved the home team's honor by brilliantly hitting a shot on the first touch past keeper Yohann Thuram in the 90th minute to make it 1-1.
Thuram stopped two PKs for Monaco in the tiebreaker.
Adu has yet to start in a league match.
American midfielder Danny Szetala is getting some playing time for Brescia Calcio of the Italian second division after he was obtained on loan from Spain's Racing Santander.
He signed with Racing, but was loaned to Brescia Calcio for the 2008-2009 season in a deal said to include an option for Brescia to purchase him at the end of the season.
In Brescia's last outing, he played 62 minutes at left midfield in a 2-1 victory over Monza.
U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley has not lived up to expectations at Borussia Mönchengladbach of the German Bunesliga and made German soccer weekly Kicker's list of first half of the Bundesliga season "flops."
In the latest ratings, the most disappointing midfielder was Hamburg's Jonathan Pitroipa, followed by Roda Antar of 1. FC Köln, and Bradley.
Kicker has Bradley with a rating of 4.75 with 1 the best and 6 the worst. His average was pulled down by his effort against Energie Cottbus, when he was awarded a seldom-seen 6.
These ratings do not necessarily coincide with how the club views him. Mönchengladbach is tied for last place at 3-12-2 with 11 points.
Clearly, though, Bradley has not enjoyed the success he did last season at Heerenveen in the Netherlands's Eredivisie where he scored 15 times in 30 league matches. So far this season, Bradley has started twice in nine league appearances and scored one goal.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent. Chris Courtney writes the blog Letters From Vagabondia.
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