BRENDAN WIMBERLY - Friday, April 11, 2014
The three Americans playing in Holland are due for better days as Aron Johannsson, Juan Agudelo, and Charles Kazlauskas are all trying to break their team out of a funk this weekend.
AZ - NEC
Aron Johannsson and AZ look to snap out of a poor stretch when they host NEC this weekend.
AZ have lost three of their last five games in all competitions, with the other two games resulting in ties.
NEC haven't been lighting the world on fire recently either, failing to win a game since February 15th. They have slid all the way to 17th place in the 18 team league in that span.
On the bright side for AZ, Johannsson scored his first Eredivisie goal in nearly a month last week in AZ's 2-2 tie against Roda JC.
Despite the slow month, Johannsson has been prolific for AZ, scoring 26 goals in all competitions. With 17 league goals, Johannsson has matched his personal best in that category, tying last year when he split 17 between his prior team, AGF Aarhus, and AZ.
Johannsson and his attacking mates, who have only scored in one of their last five games, face an easier task this weekend as NEC's defense ranks last in the Eredvisie, who have allowed 74 goals in 31 games.
Simon Poulsen and Dirk Marcellis are both out injured for AZ, while Ryan Koolwijk and Rens van Eijden are suspended for NEC and Navarone Foor and Samuel Stefanik are out injured for the visitors.
Utrecht - Heracles
With star striker Steve De Ridder suspended, Juan Agudelo hopes to break back into Utrecht manager Jan Wouters lineup this Sunday when Heracles visit Stadion Galgenwaard.
After returning from a lengthy injury layoff, Jacob Mulenga has started alongside De Ridder instead of Agudelo in Utrecht's last two games.
The American, though providing plenty of movement up front, has failed to make a similar impact on Utrecht than the one he made on New England Revolution last season, providing just one goal in 11 appearances.
Utrecht haven't been great as a whole recently. Once towards the top of the Eredivisie at the beginning of the year, they have only managed one win since February, and have tumbled all the way to 14th place, one spot below 13th place Heracles.
Almelo-based Heracles have dropped their last two games coming into Sunday's contest. The Utrecht defense must keep an eye on Brian Linssen, who leads Heracles with 11 goals this year. The 23-year old has shined in his first year for his new team after moving from VVV Venlo in the summer.
Yassine Ayoub, Willem Janssen, and De Ridder are all out for Utrecht, while Heracles are without Oussama Tannane, Dario Vujicevic, Milano Koenders, and Kwame Quansah for Sunday's game.
Almere City - Helmond Sport
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond face fellow strugglers Almere City on Friday in a battle between two teams who haven't lived up to expectations this year.
Helmond, currently in 14th place with four games to play, have taken a step back from last season when they nearly clawed their way to promotion into the Eredivisie, losing in the semi-finals of the promotion playoff's.
Kazlauskas hasn't missed a step though, playing every minute in each of Helmond's 35 competitive games this year.
Almere, who finished in 13th last year, have fallen back to 17th this year. They have been on a great run lately though, winning their last four games in the league while outscoring opponents 6 - 0 in the process.
Neither team are reporting anyone to be unavailable for Friday's game.