MICHAEL HADLEY - Friday, December 21, 2012
Four Americans on three of the Europa League's final 32 teams learned their fates in the draw held in Nyon, Switzerland on Thursday morning.
Group L winners Hannover 96, captained by Steve Cherundolo, will take on Anji of Russia in their Round of 32 game.
The German club won their opening Europa League pairing against St. Patrick's of Ireland 5-0 on aggregate, followed by a dismantling of Slask Wroclaw 10-4 over two legs. In the group stage, Hannover won and drew three games respectively, finishing one point ahead of Levante of Spain.
If Hannover advance to the Round of 16, Cherundolo and company would take on Newcastle United (ENG) or Metalist (UKR).
Clint Dempsey, Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur will face French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnias for their Round of 32 pairing.
Despite managing only two wins in the group stage, Tottenham's solid defense allowed just four goals over the six games and the American duo easily slid past Panathinaikos 3-1 in a do-or-die final game of the group stage. Last season, Tottenham failed to advance through the group stages.
If Tottenham advance, they would play the winners of Inter Milan (ITA) and CFJ Cluj (ROU) in the Round of 16.
David Yelldell has yet to see competitive action so far in 2012 at Bayer Leverkusen, but the American will hope his fortune will change as his German club faces Benefica of Portugal.
Despite being Group K runners up, Leverkusen will likely be favorites for their stout defense, allowing only two goals through the six games of the group stage. Though they finished ahead of Metalist in goal difference, their 2-0 defeat and 0-0 draw against the Ukrainians put them in the second advancing position.
The American has gotten playing time in the Nord Regionalliga (North Regional League), but it hasn't translated to a first team appearance thus far.
Leverkusen would face either Dynamo Kyiv (URK) or Bordeaux (FRA) if they advance over Benefica.
The Round of 32 games will be played on February 14 and 21, while the Round of 16 will be played March 7 and 14, with the times set by UEFA.