JAMIE HILL - Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The 2010 campaign has concluded in Norway and with it the seasons of a number of Americans plying their trade in Europe's far north.
The most accomplished American player in Norway this season was IK Start's Clarence Goodson. The tall, lanky central defender missed some time in the middle of the season due to his inclusion in the US World Cup squad, but his absence did not prevent him from earning strong reviews for his performances.
Goodson's three-year contract with Start expires at the end of the year, when he will be moving on to Danish giants Brøndby IF, with whom he signed another three-year deal several weeks ago.
IK Start's back line also featured Hunter Freeman. The attack-minded right back played an important role in the club's aggressive style that resulted in the club leading the Eliteserien in combined goals scored and allowed.
Mikkel Diskerud put in his strongest season to date for Stabæk, who limped to an uncharacteristically poor 13th place finish. The young midfielder, who turned 20 in October, played all over the midfield for his Bærum-based club.
The former US U-20 international scored six goals and registered six assists across all competitions in his first year as a full-time starter. At the end of the season, Diskerud was rewarded for his improvement with a call to the full US national team for the November 17 friendly in South Africa.
Stabæk also oversaw the professional debut of Norwegian-American Erik Benjaminsen. However, after one appearance for the US U-20 team, Benjaminsen chose to throw his lot in with Norway's U-19 squad. The 18-year-old midfielder is no longer part of the US national team program.
Two more Yanks saw time in the Eliteserien for newly-promoted Hønefoss.
Kenneth Di Vita Jensen, a 20-year-old forward/midfielder, broke into the starting lineup in midseason, while goalkeeper Steve Clark served as the club's backup for the lion's share of the season.
The future of the Hønefoss Americans still hangs in the balance as the club will face Frederikstad in the final round of the promotion/relegation playoffs on Sunday.
Several YAs were also active in Norway's second division.
In his first professional season, Joseph Bendik earned team hardware as Sogndal won the league title. The former Clemson goalkeeper spent most of the year as Piotr Leciejewski's deputy, but Bendik earned several starts and shutouts in the final stretch of the season.
Sogndal will be joined in the 2011 Norwegian Premier League by Sarpsborg 08 and Colin Burns. The ex-Ljungskile man spent the season as the club's backup goalkeeper.
Further down the standings was Mjøndalen IF, who found themselves struggling after two thirds of the season. Looking across the Atlantic for help, they brought in defender Graham Dugoni.
Immediately entering the starting lineup, he helped the club finish the season on a strong note as the club climbed out of relegation trouble to mid-table safety.
Lastly, Oklahoma native Tyrel Lacey played one game in goal for FC Lyn before reaggravating his knee injury that sidelined him for the end of the 2009 season when the club wa sin the Eliteserien.
However, before Lacey could return, Lyn filed for bankruptcy and the club ceased all operations during the mid-summer break.