DAVID SMITH - Friday, March 18, 2011
Oguchi Onyewu, the lone American left in European competition found out his team's fate for the quarterfinal and a possible semifinal of the Europa League on Friday afternoon.
After Maurice Edu and Rangers Glasgow bowed out of the competition on Thursday with their loss at home to Eindhoven, Onyewu earned the honor of being the last man Yank standing as both the Europa League and Champions League head into their final eight teams.
The towering American and his FC Twente teammates survived a first-half scare from Russian opposition Zenit St. Petersburg to hold on for a 3-2 aggregate win, and were rewarded by being drawn to face Spanish team Villarreal.
After being forced to deal with two sub-freezing encounters in Russia in each of the previous two rounds, the trip south to the Iberian peninsula will be a welcome break from the seemingly standard routine.
Onyewu and his teammates will play the first leg of the series in Villarreal's El Madrigal on April 7, then return home one week later to try to finish the job.
For their part, the Spanish team was easily the superior in both legs of their round of 16 clash with German team Leverkusen, winning in Germany by a 3-2 margin then coming out ahead in the return leg in Spain by a 2-1 score.
Villarreal is led by the top scorer in the competition, American-born Italian national team player Giuseppe Rossi. The New Jersey native has netted eight times for his team, with two of those coming in the most recent games against Leverkusen.
Should Twente manage to beat the currently fourth-place team in the Spanish La Liga, they could very well be headed back to Russia as their side of the bracket has them facing the winner between Spartak Moscow and Porto.
The Russian deep-freeze should be long-finished should this come to pass, with a potential first-leg which would be played in Enschede on April 28, and the away leg on May 5.
The other side of the bracket sees Twente's rivals for the Eredivisie title PSV Eindhoven facing off against Benfica, and Ukrainians Dynamo Kyiv paired with the third Portuguese team in the final eight, Braga.
Europa League Quarterfinal Draw
(team listed on left hosts first leg)
FC Porto - FC Spartak Moscow
SL Benfica - PSV Eindhoven
Villarreal CF - FC Twente Enschede
SC Braga - FC Dynamo Kyiv