DAVID SMITH - Friday, July 15, 2011
The Danish Superliga begins its 2011-12 season, as both Conor O'Brien and Brad Rusin look for their top-flight debuts and Clarence Goodson tries to help Brøndby challenge for highest honors.
Odense BK - FC Nordsjaelland
Michael Parkhurst will look to be in Nordsjaelland's starting lineup on Saturday when they begin their 2011-12 season with a daunting visit to league runners up Odense BK.
The last time Parkhurst and his teammates took the field in competitive action, it was to score a huge win over Midtjylland to lift the Danish Cup for the second year running.
While there is little question that they have figured out the secret to that particular competition, the same cannot be said about their performances in Superliga play in recent seasons, where they have regularly struggled against relegation, and have finished in the upper half of the standings only once in the last six tries.
The same certainly can't be said of their opponents Odense, who have consistently been one of the top teams in Denmark for more than a decade.
While they have not lifted the league championship since 1999, they have come close on several occasions, most recently finishing second place for the last three years.
While few expect any team to be able to break free of Copenhagen's stranglehold on the division, there is still much to battle for, as Denmark enters its second season of sending its top two teams to the Champions League.
Nordsjaelland are only missing striker Mads Thomsen who is still not yet fit, while Odense must make do without injured forward Morten Skoubo and fellow forward Henrik Toft, who was just sold to AC Horsens.
Brøndby IF - Aalborg BK
Clarence Goodson will square off against fellow American Chris Rolfe on Sunday, as Brøndby hosts Aalborg.
Marcus Tracy is still in the final stages of recovering from knee injuries, and will not be available to play for the visitors.
Brøndby finished last season in third place with the reward of Europa League qualification, however will have their sights set higher this time around with a shot of Champions League qualification in mind.
Their opening game comes against Aalborg, who avoided relegation last season by the narrowest of margins - and a last second favor by relegated Esbjerg who saved their season in the last second by sending Randers down - and were furthermore dealt a tragic blow in the summer break with the death of defender Dennis Marshall in an auto accident.
With last season's difficulties behind them, Aalborg will be eager to prove that they belong among the league's elite, where they have regularly finished high enough - including their 2007-08 championship run - to qualify for European competition.
Brøndby look to have a full squad for the game, while Aalborg will be without injured midfielder Rasmus Würtz,
Brad Rusin has confirmed to YA that he is still awaiting final paperwork to go through on his transfer to Køge, and therefore will not be available for their season-opening visit to AC Horsens.
According to press reports, Conor O'Brien is in the same boat as his countryman Rusin, and will not be available for SønderjyskE's tough opening visit from league champions FC Copenhagen.