MICHAEL HADLEY - Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Four Americans will suit up for their teams in Europa League action, each facing separate tasks in their respective matches.
Thor Akureyri - Bohemians FC
After an impressive defensive effort, Giuseppe Funicello and Thor Akureyri will host Bohemians on Wednesday with the score even at 0-0 from the first leg.
In the opening leg, Bohemians, located in Dublin, Ireland, had the majority of the possession. Thor, on the other hand, realized their defensive advantage and buckled down, holding on to make the second leg worth all the marbles.
Bohemians dominated the game offensively, earning 11 corner kicks and attempting five more shots. Thor were awarded four yellow cards, including two in the final three minutes of the match.
Funicello will more than likely play the full 90 minutes after slotting in nicely in the back line after transferring back from a short stint in Finland. He appears to be completely recovered from his two leg injuries that sidelined him previously.
If Thor are to move on, they must win outright as away goals count as the initial tiebreaker for this head to head play. There can be no additional extra time, except for a goalless tie, due to this rule. A 1-1 draw at the final whistle would serve as an advantage for Bohemians.
The winner of Wednesday's game will play FK Mlada Boleslav of the Czech Republic on 19 July.
Stabaek - JJK
Ricardo Clark's sloppy giveaway in the 66th minute allowed JJK to take a significant advantage on the road to Norway. The Finnish club carries a 2-0 aggregate lead into Norway
Already down 1-0 following an impressive strike by JJK's Tamas Gruborovics early in the match, Clark made an ugly pass in the attacking end, eventually leading to Babatunde Wusu's strike.
Clark only saw 79 of the 90 minutes in Finland, but 19 year old Sean Cunningham played the entire match. Neither made a significant impact offensively, and Stabaek has struggled thus far in the Norwegian Premier League.
Stabaek face a large disadvantage heading home, needing to win outright much like Thor, meaning a three-goal advantage at the final whistle. Again, the same as Thor, there can be no additional extra time.
If Clark and Cunningham can help will their side to victory, they would play the winner of Zeta and Pyunik on 19 July. Zeta dominated the first leg between the two, winning 3-0.
Llanelli - KuPS
The only American side with an advantage on Wednesday will be KuPS who go on the road at Llanelli with a 2-1 advantage.
KuPS were awarded a penalty just sixth minute, converting from the spot for the early lead. Thirteen minutes later the advantage was doubled when Ats Purje scored the eventual game winner.
American defender Etchu Tabe assisted his squad in a full 90-minute performance, seeing just the one goal from Llanelli penetrate the back line. After the impressive showing, it is likely he will also play another 90 on Wednesday.
KuPS can easily advance by winning the second leg outright, also advancing on any draw. Llanelli can advance on a 1-0 or better victory. Addition extra time will be required if the two teams finish 2-1 in favor of Llanelli.
The winner will advance to the second qualifying round to play American Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya of Israel on 19 July.