MICHAEL HADLEY - Thursday, July 26, 2012
After the second leg of the second qualifying round, only one European club boasting an American was able to successfully advance in the 2012/13 Europa League.
Thor Akureyri 0 - 1 FK Mlada Boleslav
Despite great defensive outings by newly signed goalkeeper Josh Wicks and Iceland veteran Giuseppe Funicello, the Czech Republic team FK Mlada Boleslav held Thor Akureyri scoreless over both legs of their second round pairing.
Mlada Boleslav's 3-0 advantage stemming from an impressive first leg seemed mountainous to the Icelandic second-tier club, though the home side's offensive attack seemed up to the task early on. But, much like against Bohemians in the previous round, Thor would concede the opening goal on their home field.
In the 31st minute Jakub Mares sent in a corner kick that initially seemed poor, but after some ricocheting around the box it was Lukas Magera who found the back of the net for Mlada Boleslav.
Johann Helgi Hannesson, an Icelandic born forward, received his second yellow card for the hosts in the 68th minute, though by then the aggregate was far too much for Thor to overcome.
Including the two assessed to Hannesson, Thor would finish the match with five total yellow cards.
The goal was the first and only American Josh Wicks would allow for Thor. He joined soon-to-be American Giuseppe Funicello from Mariehamm in Finland, a club Funicello briefly played for last season as well.
The pair each went the full 90 minutes in the loss, however the positive showing from Wicks will more than likely propel him to the starting 11 for the remainder of the season.
Inter Turku 0 - 5 FC Twente
The competitive draw in the Netherlands seemed like a distant fairy tale for Daniel Atunez and Inter Turku after Thursday's conclusion took an early turn for the worst.
Inter, possessing the upper hand due to their away goal in the previous match, decided to bunker down in their defensive half, but the more prestigious Dutch club had planned perfectly for the tactic.
It only took three minutes for Twente to score in Finland as Leroy Fer found the end of a free kick from Nacer Chadli for the eventual series winning goal, but Twente had no intentions of stopping there.
Four minutes later, Glynor Crush poked in a beautiful pass from Dusan Tadic and the rout was on for the visitors. Exactly one half hour following the second goal, a third came for Twente when Fer scored his second, this time an impressive long-range blast into the corner of the net.
Following the halftime break, Inter Turku showed no signs of life. Chadli scored the 200th FC Twente goal in European competition in the 77th minute before netting another in the 89th.
Atunez made next to no impact in his 90 minutes for Inter Turku, who now return to Veikkausliiga action at the top of the standings despite the poor showing.
FK Mlada Boleslav and FC Twente will face off in the third qualifying round, an ironic twist for the teams that knocked two American-laden clubs out of the tournament.
KuPS 0 - 1 Maccabi Netanya
In the initial American-versus-American duel of the tournament, Etchu Tabe and KuPS advanced beyond Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya.
After falling 2-1 at home, Netanya's single road tally would not be enough to surpass the advantage held by midfielder Aleksi Paananen's pair of goals in Israel.
Achmad Saba'a scored his 42nd career goal in all competitions, volleying home an awkward reverse cross from 12 yards out, sending the traveling Israeli fans into frenzy. But the goals stopped there for both sides.
Desperate to advance into the third round, Saba'a received a yellow card in the waning moments of the second half, but it was KuPS who will move on in European competition for the first time in their history.
Tabe's 90 minute effort on the defensive end, his line allowing only the freak goal, will reward him as the only American to advance from the second to third qualifying round in the current incarnation of the Europa League.
KuPS have a weekend match with Haka in the Veikkausliiga to attend to before lacing up against Bursaspor of Turkey in the third round on Wednesday.