DAVID SMITH - Saturday, April 13, 2013
The Finnish Veikkausliiga kicks off this weekend, with Etchu Tabe and Jon Okafor expected to face off when KuPS hosts MyPa amidst a slew of weather-related cancellations.
KuPS - MyPa
Etchu Tabe will once again feature in the center of the KuPS defense when they open their season on Sunday with a visit from Jon Okafor and MyPa.
New MyPA arrival Yannick Salmon is expected to be a defensive option off the bench for the visitors.
KuPS and MyPa already met once in 2013, facing off in the quarterfinal of the pre-season League Cup. Okafor scored a first-half equalizer for MyPa in that game, however Tabe and his teammates had the last laugh, eventually going through on penalties.
Both teams had relatively unspectacular 2012 campaigns, with KuPS ending four points ahead of the relegation place and MyPa right in the middle of the standings.
MyPa were in action during the midweek, being thrust out of the Finnish Cup in a 1-0 loss to Honka. KuPS were fortunate to skip the early rounds of the Cup, and will enter directly in the sixth round against Lahti.
Tabe was regular in the defense for KuPS last season, starting 18 of their 33 games, and is entering his third season in Finland's top flight.
Okafor was originally selected by MLS club Chivas USA in the 2011 Superdraft, but failed to find a home with the team and is beginning his initial season in Finland. He has appeared in seven games so far for MyPa in their league cup campaign, and should be a regular starter throughout the season.
Neither team is currently reporting any injuries.
Mike Banner and FF Jaro will have to wait one week longer to begin their season, as their opener against JJK has been called off due to poor field conditions.
Karsten Smith and Jordan Seabrook also will have the weekend off due to weather related reasons. Their home game against Lahti has been moved to late-July, meaning they will open their season next weekend with a visit to TPS.