Postcard from Europe: Jozy leading historic year for Yanks

MLS

AMSTERDAM – Once again, it's time to count up the scratches and make sense of the scribbles as we clear out the ol' American Exports notepad.

High honor rollers

When Bursaspor midfielder Maurice Edu (below, left, in green) earned Team of the Week honors following last weekend's 1-1 draw with first-place Galatasaray, he became the 15th American to do so this season in European leagues (including the second flights in England and Germany). 

Not counting the weekly honors bestowed on summer-season standouts Alejandro Bedoya, Steve Clark, Mikkel Diskerud and Josh Gatt in late 2012, Edu's end-of-the-round kudos marked the 24th such nomination for Americans this term. Including those Scandinavia-based players would bring the total of official league or leading domestic outlet awards for our boys since August to 30.

READ: American Exports: Diskerud inks new Rosenborg deal

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Jozy Altidore tops this traditional fall-to-spring "table" with four Team of the Week nods for AZ Alkmaar, one ahead of Michael Parkhurst (who earned all three of his with FC Nordsjælland before moving to Augsburg in January) and Sandhausen loan attacker Andrew Wooten.

Rapid Vienna's Terrence Boyd and Aston Villa's Brad Guzan are next with two celebratory salutes apiece. The list of Americans with one Team of the Week nominations thus far is long: Michael Bradley, John Anthony Brooks, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Zak Whitbread and Bobby Wood.

Biennium falcon

Team of the Week prizes are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Altidore is collecting in his second season with AZ. Looking more and more like a viable Player of the Season candidate, the striker is now setting a new American Exports record every time he scores.

Since arriving in Alkmaar before last season, Altidore has tallied a grand total of 40 times across all competitions, easily giving him an American standard for goals in consecutive top-flight campaigns abroad. And he's still got at least 13 games remaining on the term to build his predatory record.

Most goals in all competitions in consecutive top flight seasons (*=active streak)
40* Jozy Altidore, AZ (2011-present)
36  Clint Dempsey, Fulham (2010-12)
31* Clint Dempsey, Fulham/Spurs (2011-present)
28  Roy Wegerle, Luton/QPR (1989-91)
27  Earnie Stewart, Willem II (1990-92)
23  Michael Bradley, H'veen/Gladbach (2007-09)
23  Brian McBride, Fulham (2005-07)
20  Earnie Stewart, NAC Breda (2000-02)

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Altidore's hat trick against Vitesse late last month put him past the mark of 36 set by Dempsey last spring. Deuce also has a healthy running sum for this season and last with 31 goals.

Only four other Americans have managed at least 20 strikes in the same time frame, with Earnie Stewart accomplishing the feat for two different Eredivisie teams 10 years apart.

Know when to Holden

Two Fridays ago, stateside fans’ hearts may have skipped a beat upon learning that Bolton ace Stuart Holden left a reserve game early with a knock. As it turned out, it was a mere foot bruise from a rough tackle and the midfielder was back in action with 90 developmental squad minutes on Monday night.

Even so, Bolton boss Dougie Freedman is firmly sticking to his plan to slowly blend the US international back into the Wanderers mix. Holden is now happily listed as available for their weekend trip to Nottingham Forest, but that does not mean he'll dress.

"The manager is treating him with kid gloves," Bolton press liaison Jennie Kozlowski told MLSsoccer.com. "He is still classified as being in his recovery phase." 

Brooks, but not done

When Hertha Berlin center back prodigy John Anthony Brooks (below, left) turned up in Germany's Under-20 World Cup prep camp last week, the nerves of US national team supporters everywhere were tested. Though he did not dress for their game in Italy, relaxation on the matter now seems further away than it had been.

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Interest in the defender is definitely rising over at Die Mannschaft headquarters. Germany U-21 boss Rainer Adrion told reporters that Brooks was "moving into focus" for his side, who have a European championship to worry about this year.

READ: Postcard from Europe: Five others like Chandler the USMNT must cap

A mixed signal has also come from the youngster, who previously stated his desire to compete for the US at this June's U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

"It would be great if I could be an option for the U-21 team," Brooks told German daily Der Tagespiegel while in U-20 camp. "That obviously makes me happy."

That last comment makes exactly one American to feel that way, which means it would be a great time to hear a certain California-based German coach's thoughts on the subject.

Tried, true red, white & blue

Longest continuous top flight span fielding an American (* = active streak)
*Hannover 96 - 10 yrs, 6 mos. (Aug. 2002-present)
Fulham - 8 yrs, 4 mos. (Jan. 2004-May 2012)
Blackburn - 6 yrs, 9 mos. (Aug. 2001-May 2008)
Willem II - 5 yrs, 9 mos. (Aug. 1990-May 1996)
*Everton - 6 yrs, 6 mos. (2006-present)
Ajax - 5 yrs, 6 mos. (Aug. 1999-Feb. 2005)
Rangers - 4 yrs, 9 mos. (Aug. 2007-May 2012)
*Aston Villa - 4 yrs, 6 mos. (Aug. 2008-present) 

When Danish holders FC Nordsjælland lost Michael Parkhurst to free agency over the winter, it seemed that club’s string of fielding at least one American would be broken at four years and two months. However, the Wild Tigers also picked up Conor O'Brien during the January market, meaning that run will continue. 

Only eight European clubs have enjoyed a longer continuous top flight run of American apple pie, with Steve Cherundolo's Hannover 96 the leader at 10-and-a-half years and counting, in addition to his four prior years with Hannover in the second division. Fulham and Rangers saw their second- and sixth-place streaks end last summer, while Aston Villa and Everton are the only other clubs actively working on a US employment run of over four years. 

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