Taylor Booth put on another man of the match performance for Utrecht overshadowing Ricardo Pepi’s strong performance for Groningen, while Kik Pierie showed his utility for Jong Ajax as a left back in their win over Dordrecht.
FC Utrecht 2 – 1 FC Groningen
MOTM Taylor Booth began Utrecht’s comeback against Ricardo Pepi’s Groningen on Sunday, and had an all-around monster performance to help his team to a third straight win in Eredivisie action.
The former FC Bayern midfielder has proven deadly Utrecht after an up and down opening to the season, and yet another standout performance will assure his place in the coach’s favor as the long World Cup break rapidly approaches.
He started on the left side of the team’s midfield in more of a holding deployment, however in his 89 minutes he scored one goal, took a whopping five shots, three of which were on-target, set up four chances for teammates, took a total of 59 touches and completed 89% of his 35 passing attempts.
Likely USMNT World Cup call-up Ricardo Pepi started on the opposite side of the field for Groningen, and also had a solid outing with an assist on Groningen’s lone goal, a 90% completion rate on his 21 passing attempts, as well as a pair each of shots and chances created.
Groningen’s opener just past the 39-minute mark was an impressive team effort that clearly flummoxed the Utrecht defense. Laros Duarte slipped a short pass forward into the right side of the penalty area. While Pepi could have been the first Groningen attacker to reach the ball on a sprint, he held up his run to allow Neraysho Kasanwirjo to sneak in from the right flank with a more expansive angle.
Instead of firing the obvious cross towards the far post which the defense clearly expected, the Dutch youth player smartly dropped the ball back to his American teammate, who one-timed his strike towards the lower corner of the far post. Whether it was an attempted shot or cross didn’t matter, as Florian Krüger slid in to pop the ball from close range into the underside of the top netting for the 1-0 lead.
However, Booth, who had been Utrecht’s most dangerous player for the duration of the game, pulled his team even with his fine, aggressive play just past the hour. Playing a short give-and-go with Sander van de Street with the sole purpose of building a full-speed run into the area, the Utah-born attacker easily shook off a crowd of Groningen defenders and put his ten-yard shot away to equalize.
Utrecht then secured the win in the 84th minute on one of the few chances in the game neither orchestrated nor taken by Booth. Amin Younes managed to settle the ball and evade his marking defender in the left flank just well enough to fire a cross towards the near side of the six-yard box. van de Streek was the recipient, lunging in foot-first to put his shot inside the near post for the eventual winner.
The win brings Utrecht to seventh place in the Eredivisie standings on 21 points, with their final game of 2022 happening on Saturday when they visit Volendam. Groningen drop to 12th, and finish their 2022 calendar year on Sunday when Fortuna Sittard comes for a visit.
FC Dordrecht 3 – 4 Jong Ajax
Kik Pierie moved to the left side of the Jong Ajax defense in Friday-night Eerste Divisie action, picking up a yellow card in the team’s wild win at Dordrecht.
The Dutch-American defender played the full game on the left side of the defense, having 96 total touches, completing 79% of his 73 passing attempts, creating a pair of chances and committing two fouls.
Jong Ajax opened the scoring after ten minutes with a tap-in from Icelandic attacker Kristian Hlynsson, however the hosts went into the half ahead after a pair of corners from Anouar el Azzouzi saw Samuel Longo and Jaymillio Pinas score in the 31st and 40th minutes, respectively.
Jong Ajax forward Christian Rassmussen equalized two minutes after the break with an angled strike, then Sontje Hansen put his team ahead two minutes later with a strike acros the area.
Dordrecht kept up the fireworks, with Mathis Suray striking the 3-3 equalizer moments before the hour with a distance strike, however Hlynsson earned the three points for the visitors, putting away Youri Regeer’s set-up from close range.
Pierie and his teammates are back in action on Monday, Nov. 14 when they host FC Den Bosch, and along with most of the lower divisions in Europe, will have several more games through November and December before the winter holidays.
Fortuna Sittard 0 – 1 FC Emmen
Cole Bassett saw his most substantial outing since late-August, playing the final half-hour for Fortuna Sittard on Saturday in their home loss to Emmen.
Bassett came onto the field in the 62 minute, four minutes after Emmen netted the lone goal of the game with an angled strike from the left side of the area by Richairo Zivkovic.
The American had an unremarkable outing to support a similar team effort, with 25 touches over his roughy 30 minutes, 11 completed passes in 15 attempts, no accurate crosses in six attempts, and no shots.
With 17 minutes left, Emmen looked to have solidify their lead when Mohamed Bouhouari emphatically struck from close range, however the goal was eventually called back for offside.
With the loss, Sittard find themselves in 13th place after 13 games. They have their last game before the nearly two-month World Cup and Christmas break on Sunday when they visit Ricardo Pepi and Groningen.
Dutch-American defender Philippe Sandler continued his come-back for NEC Nijmegen, playing 79 minutes in the center of the team’s defense on Friday in their 1-0 road win over Cambuur Leeuwarden.
Richard Ledezma was on PSV Eindhoven’s bench for their critical 2-1 road win over erstwhile Eredivisie leaders Ajax. PSV are now in first place, where they will remain for through January should they manage to beat visiting AZ Alkmaar on Saturday.
Joshua Pynadath will hope to earn minutes for Jong AZ on Monday night when the team hosts Roda JC Kerkrade in Eerste Divise action.
Dante Sealy and Ledezma will both be candidates to play for Jong PSV on Monday when the team hosts Almere City.