Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Altidore scores 1st goal & makes history

MADRID, Spain -- Jozy Altidore is making history at Villarreal by being the first American to score in Spanish league. even getting into the Spanish league history books. Altidore's 90th minute goal Saturday in Villarreal's 4-1 victory at Athletic Bilbao earned the teenage striker a special billing.

Word is that Altidore might be loaned out in January when the transfer market opens. His transfer depends on injuries to Villarreal players.

If a move comes, Altidore hopes to play either in England's Premier League or a league that is similar to Spain's.

"This year is definitely a learning experience, I'm not expected to step in immediately and score 20 goals. I'm here this year to learn how things go in La Liga and get experience and train with these guys to make me a better player," said Altidore, who joined the Spanish league runner-ups in a $10 million offseason move from the New York Red Bulls -- a record price for a Major League Soccer player. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller is the only other American to have played in La Liga.

"My technique has gotten better, I read plays a little bit earlier. Technically, I'm a little bit sharper, especially when I'm playing here with all of these guys," said Altidore, who signed a six-year contract to play at El Madrigal. "It'll get better from here even if I still have a long way to go in terms of adapting."

Altidore isn't the only who's noticed a change.

"He's improving with every practice. He's adapting well in practice and when he does get a chance to play," Pellegrini said. "He has a natural ability and we want to harness that, but with time. There is no rush. I just hope he takes advantage of the opportunities when he gets them."

Altidore said his move to Spain has surpassed expectations and he has easily settled into Spanish lifestyle, comparing it to time spent in Miami. The Spanish is coming along thanks to classes, and so is his on-field training, which could help him cement a starting spot on the U.S. roster.

"Everyone here is so technically sound so you're forced to have that same technique or touch or you'll easily be noticed," he said. "Just the little movement off the ball and finding open spaces, playing here has benefited me."

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