DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The draw for the first two rounds of both the Champions and Europa League was made on Monday, giving a pair of yanks a glimpse of what awaits as they embark early on their 2010-11 European campaigns.
With the world's focus on South Africa, the long and grueling European season got its early-summer start on Monday, setting up the initial pair of qualification rounds for the two continental competitions.
Norwegian-American midfielder Mikkel Diskerud and his team Stabaek, who finished third place in the 2009 Norwegian Premier League season, will face the winner of the first-round series between Belarussian third-place finishers FC Dnepr Mogilev and Albanian team Laši.
Stabaek were knocked out of the 2009-10 competition in the play-off round by eventual quarterfinalists Valencia. They will play the first leg at home on July 15, before heading east to Mogilev or Laši one week later for the second leg.
Nate Weiss and Latvian Cup winners FK Jelgava will take on 2009 Norwegian Premier League runners-up Molde FK also in the second round. Molde is the former team of American journeyman Brian Waltrip, who was on the team's books during the previous season but was sidelined for the duration with an ankle injury.
Like their opponents, Jelgava will be midway through their domestic campaign when their series with Molde takes off, as the Latvian Virsliga began play in early-April, with Weiss and his teammates currently in the middle of the standings on the team's first season back in the top flight after their 2009 promotion campaign.
None of the Americans currently on the books of teams participating in the UEFA Champions League enter the competition until the third qualifying round, which will be drawn on July 16 and be contested over two legs starting on July 27. The round could see recent RSC Anderlecht signing Sacha Kljestan get his first competitive action with the Belgian club.
A handful of Yanks will also see their teams drawn into the third qualifying round of the Europa League on the same date, which will likely see on-loan FC Aris player Freddy Adu make his return to the European stage three seasons after making a handful of appearances in the Champions League for parent club Benfica.
Europa League second qualifying round (July 15/22)
Stabaek - Laši/FC Dnepr Mogilev
Molde - FK Jelgava