DAVID SMITH - Saturday, May 21, 2011
Etchu Tabe and RoPS will hope to run their winning streak to two games while the Yanks at Mariehamn have one last warmup at home against league powerhouse HJK before next week's crucial cup semifinal.
IFK Mariehamn - HJK Helsinki
Josh Wicks and Mason Trafford should be in Mariehamn's starting lineup on Sunday when they host reigning champs HJK Helsinki.
Giuseppe Funicello should be on the bench for Mariehamn although he is still awaiting his first official league appearance for the club.
It will be a difficult task for Mariehamn to keep focused on Sunday's game, with Thursday's semifinal against KuPS - possibly the most important game in the team's history - just around the corner.
They have had a disappointing run heading into the game, losing two straight to fall from the top of the standings into sixth place, and will have a difficult time to turn things around against the Veikkausliiga's second place team.
HJK have won the last two titles in the league and look set to challenge for a third straight, as they have won their last four games and are currently only one point behind current leaders JJK.
Mariehamn will definitely be without Brazilian defender de Abreu, who was diagnosed with a broken arm and will miss up to four months, but otherwise are sporting a full squad.
HJK are reporting no absences to their roster.
Rovaniemi PS - Inter Turku
Etchu Tabe will be in the RoPS defense from the opening whistle on Sunday when the team tries to continue their turnaround with a home game against third-place Inter Turku.
The team was thoroughly dominant in Thursday night action, putting four past last-place MyPa to cruise to an easy win. They will definitely have a tougher time to find their way into goal on Sunday, as Inter have been the league's best defensive team so far, with just three conceded through five games.
A strong 3-1 victory over Vaasa PS in the midweek put the team back on track after they had managed just one point in their previous two games, and they head into the game knowing that a win could possibly catapult them to the top of the standings.
RoPS could be without defenders Albin Granlund and Ville Syväjärvi, who are both questionable for the game, while Inter should have a full squad available to choose from.
AC Oulu - FC Lahti
Jeremy Vuolo will be between the posts for AC Oulu on Saturday as they host Ykkönen leaders FC Lahti.
AC are still boasting an undefeated record in league play, although they have only played two games so far and have yet to face a real test like they will surely find in front of them on Saturday.
Last weekend's win over Porin Palloilijat catapulted them into fifth place, despite having played one game fewer than most of the league.
Lahti are looking to make a quick return to the top flight after last season's relegation campaign, and have done a good job so far in riding a stingy defense to a league-leading seven points through their first three games.
FC Lahti will be without injured Brazilian forward Rafael, while AC will be missing defender Mika Lähderinne and forwards Juuso Majava and Joonas Pennanen to injury.
HIFK Helsinki - PS Kemi Kings
Daniel Stevens and Kemi Kings will hope that their weekend off will have them re-energized as they try to earn their first win on their trip to HIFK Helsinki.
Stevens and his teammates have only managed a single point through an unimpressive first two games of the Ykkönen campaign, and find themselves situated in 11th place just inside the drop zone.
To their credit, they have played one game fewer than most other teams in the league, and have had an extra week to prepare for Saturday's game against the division's eighth-place team.
Kemi will be missing midfieler Jukka Yrjänheikki and forward Aki Karjula, both to injury, while HIFK are only without forward Daniel Antman, who is still recovering fitness.