DAVID SMITH - Friday, March 4, 2011
The weekend's round of games should see both Americans on the field for their respective teams with Freddy Adu likely in a starting role for Rizespor and Jozy Altidore returning from injury for Bursaspor.
Bursaspor - Istanbul BB
Jozy Altidore should be back in Bursaspor's starting lineup on Sunday when they try to make headway on the league's top two spots against visiting team Istanbul BB.
Altidore was forced to watch his team's 2-0 win over Bucaspor last weekend from the stands while he recovered from a slight ankle problem, but he should be ready to go either in the starting eleven or from the bench on Sunday.
The win kept the team within reach of the league's summit, however they will need to take all three points from this vital home clash or risk losing ground on leaders Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce in the race to reach next season's Champions League.
They are currently three points behind both teams, however an inferior goal differential will almost certainly see them remain in third no matter what the outcome on Sunday.
While taking a back seat to their more well-known city rivals Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas, Istanbul BB have established themselves as a solid competitor in Turkey's top flight, finishing last season sixth and looking headed to a similar finish in the current term, along with making a serious challenge for domestic cup honors.
The Cup could ultimately be a thorn in the visitors' side for their third meeting as Istanbul were forced to go a full 120 minutes on Thursday night against local rivals Kasimpasa Istanbul. While they did manage to advance to the semifinals on away goals after extra time, the three-day turnaround could leave the squad worse for the wear heading Sunday's contest.
These teams have met twice so far this season with mixed results. They battled to a scoreless draw in league play in October, then Istanbul won a tight decision in mid-January in the group stage of the Turkish Cup.
Bursaspor will continue be without a pair of players, as defender Gokcek Vederson and midfielder Volkan Sen are still undergoing treatment for their injury problems.
Caykur Rizespor - Gaziantep Buyuksehir Belediyespor
Freddy Adu will hope to maintain his spot in the attack for Rizespor on Sunday when they try to jump back into the division's promotion spots when they host Gaziantep Buyuksehir Belediyespor.
The American earned his second straight start in last weekend's scoreless draw at Güngören Belediyespor, playing the first 55 minutes as the team was ultimately unable to find a spark to push them to victory.
The result dropped them all the way down to sixth place, however a tight battle amongst the top half of the standings could see them finish the weekend as high as first or in eighth place, out of the promotion playoff picture.
Fans will be hoping to see some of the magic that Adu showed in his first outing for the team two weeks before, where he figured directly into two of the team's goals and was generally a force on the attacking end of the field.
Neither team is reporting any injuries or suspension at this time.