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Altidore and AZ Alkmaar one step closer to Europa League

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Tuesday’s shameful display by some fans in the Netherlands is unfortunate for more important reasons, but this, too, should be mentioned:

It overshadowed a big step for AZ Alkmaar and Jozy Altidore, who are one step closer to a big spring goal: grabbing a spot in next year’s European competition through the KNVB Cup.

AZ’s big 5-0 win today over Den Bosch put Altidore’s club into the Dutch Cup semifinals.

Altidore may not be around to enjoy the achievement next year; given his continued strong goal scoring, a second consecutive fruitful season, it’s increasingly likely the small Dutch club will cash out on the young U.S. striker this summer.

(MORE: Altidore subject to racist abuse)

Either way, a presiding spring goal for AZ was winning the Dutch Cup and grabbing the Europa League spot that goes with it. AZ can still get into Europe via Dutch Eredivisie play – the team is currently ninth – but the KNVB Cup path looks slightly less troublesome now.

Even getting into the Dutch Cup semifinals might be enough; if the Dutch Cup winner is already into European competition by virtue of its Eredivisie standing, the competition’s runner-up gets that Europa spot. That means Altidore and Alkmaar may be one win away.