AZ Alkmaar stunned Ajax Amsterdam, 3-0, in Wednesday’s Dutch Cup semifinal behind two goals from U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore, who tied Clint Dempsey’s single-season scoring record for an American playing abroad.The triumph at the Amsterdam Arena sent AZ to the May 9 final against PSV Eindhoven. A victory there would clinch AZ’s first Cup title since 1982 and qualify it for the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League. A berth in Europe’s secondary competition might come even with a loss, depending on how first-place PSV finishes its Eredivisie campaign.
AZ is in 13th and has struggled in league play. Second-place Ajax was heavily favored on Wednesday. But as Altidore said following the semifinal, “When you believe and you stay positive, good things will happen eventually.” They started in Amsterdam in the 74th minute when Altidore broken open the scoreless game with a short header. He outmaneuvered an Ajax defender and reached Adam Maher’s cross from the right.
Altidore set up Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s backbreaker in the 88th minute, then put his own exclamation point on the upset with a spectacular 40-yard chip over Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen in stoppage time.
“It’s something we’ve struggled on throughout the season in terms of finishing chances. But today we did it. The team as a whole, we played really well,” Altidore told Eredivisie Live. Despite those struggles, Altidore now has 23 goals in 2012-13, tying the mark Dempsey set last season with Fulham. Altidore has 11 games to break it—10 in the league and then the Cup final.
“It’s good for the confidence,” Altidore said of Wednesday’s performance. “We have a young team. This is good for them, to play in a final when it matters. It’s important for the city also.”
"Finally a coach understands that Josmer needs some freedom on top. He can make goals out of nothing if he has this freedom and a coach gives him this confidence. I am happy for Jozy that he has finally the success he deserves. He is still young (23) and has a lot of world class soccer in front of him", says Dr. Josef Schulz about his former student at the Schulz Academy.