MICHAEL HADLEY - Thursday, August 30, 2012
Five Americans will take to the field Thursday with hopes of advancing through to the group stages of the Europa League.
AZ - Anzhi
Jozy Altidore will look to regain his scoring ways in the Netherlands when AZ hosts Russia's Anzhi.
After a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home, Anzhi will be in the driver's seat heading into the second leg across the European continent.
Lacina Traore scored the only goal for Anzhi, an easy toe-poke in the 51st minute to set the final score line.
AZ came close late in the match, sending shots off the crossbar and just beyond the post on multiple occasions.
Over the weekend, Anzhi defeated Mordovia Saransk 4-2 at home, while AZ drew 0-0 with Heerenveen. After scoring four goals in the first two matches for AZ, Altidore, along with his teammates, have been held scoreless through the last two competitive matches.
The American's club are currently 8th with five points through three Eredivisie games.
Heerenveen - Molde
Josh Gatt has regained his form for Molde and will look to bury Heerenveen in the second leg Thursday night.
Molde took the lead in the 31st minute when Daniel Chima, Jo Berget and Magnus Eikrem combined down the left flank for the hosts. Eikrem netted the goal which would eventually prove to be the leg winner.
Mattias Mostrom would add an insurance goal in the waning moments of the match, stealing a poor backpass from the Heerenveen 'keeper for the late tally.
After missing significant time with a leg injury, Gatt played his first competitive match in the 2-0 home victory last week. Over the weekend, he scored a goal in the third minute against Valerenga (and American Chad Barrett), speeding past two defenders for an easy finish.
Molde are currently first in Norway with 41 points from 20 games.
Rosenborg - Legia Warsaw
More close play is expected in Norway when Legia Warsaw travel to take on Mixx Diskerud and Rosenborg.
In the first match between the two clubs, the 1-1 deadlock score rightfully matched the on-field competition.
Warsaw would score first when Miroslav Radovic found a wide-open Daniel Orlund who bent a ball around the Rosenborg goalkeeper.
Similarly it was Rosenborg's Borek Dockal goal in the 80th minute that set the deadlock. The tally allows Rosenborg to currently hold the advantage on away goals.
Legia Warsaw defeated GKS Belchatow 2-0 on the road over the weekend, while Rosenborg, currently in 3rd place in Norway, drew 1-1 with Viking.
Diskerud, like his fellow American in Norway Josh Gatt, recently returned from a leg injury for his squad.
Rapid Vienna - PAOK
Fans will be allowed in to the Rapid-PAOK match, but tensions and security will be high for the return leg.
Prior to the match in Greece, Rapid fans say PAOK supporters attacked them with rocks, benches and even Molotov Cocktails. Before the match, Rapid fans invaded the pitch and launched their own counterattack, firing flares and fireworks into the PAOK supporter section.
Miraculously, no one was injured, however both teams now face serious fines. Each club is banned for the 2013-14 European competition circut, with PAOK facing 150,000 Euros in fines and Rapid getting a 75,000 Euros fine.
The next three European matches PAOK play will be closed off to fans, with only one "closed door" match for Rapid. The second leg of the current round will not be off limits to fans of either side.
Rapid midfielder Chistopher Drazan is currently out with an injury. The Austrian has one goal in three games so far for Vienna.
Hannover 96 - Slask Wroclaw
Steven Cherundolo and Hannover 96 of German and Slask Wroclaw of Poland will have plenty to live up to in the second leg of their match up.
In the highest scoring match of the first leg, Hannover's five goals included a Leon Andreasen double, while Slask scored three of their own at home.
The scoring was kicked off by Andreasen after he collected a beautiful pass from Cherundolo who had beaten his defender down the right attacking flank. The assist was the first for Cherundolo in the young 2012-13 season.
Hannover scored again in the 25th and 40th minutes, sandwiched around a Slask goal at 34 minutes. Out of halftime, the home side scored twice in the opening 16 minutes, leaving the score knotted at 3.
Andreasen scored his second in the 82nd minute, followed closely by another Hannover goal two minutes later, enough to set the final tally at 5-3 in favor of the Germans.
Slask have taken six points in their first two league matches in Poland, defeating Koronoa Kielce 2-0 over the weekend. Hannover drew 2-2 with Schalke 04 in their Bundesliga season opener.