Thursday, October 29, 2009
A battle of Yanks highlights the final weekend in the Eliteserien as Valerenga travel to Start while Jay Needham and Alta round out their 1. Division season at home versus Nybergsund.
Start - Valerenga
A mid-table affair is on the docket at Sor Arena in Kristiansand as Start's Hunter Freeman and Clarence Goodson look to take down visiting Troy Perkins and Valerenga on Sunday.
Start head coach Knut Torum is expected to slot in the usual duo of Freeman and Goodson on his back line while Perkins will take his normal spot in between the pipes for Valerenga head coach Martin Andresen.
This match-up will be all about pride as neither a spot in European competition nor any danger of falling into the relegation zone are at stake.
The visitors from Oslo have had a bumpy ride all year long in the Eliteserien as a mid-summer slump saw them lurk just above the drop zone.
A resurgent fall brought the still-reigning Norwegian Cup winners to the brink of possibly stealing a berth in next year's Europa League only to fall short with a loss last week to Sandefjord.
Part of their late season push can be credited to Perkins who has been steady since the squad broke their seven league match losing streak in late August versus Molde.
As for the hosts who were newly-promoted to start the season, an impressive beginning to the season yielded to a lackluster late summer and fall as Torum's squad fell out of contention for a spot in Europe next season.
Nevertheless, the play of Freeman and Goodson has been stellar all season as evidenced by the club's winning record when the two players are on the field at the same time.
Start will be working with a full squad while it is still unknown if Valerenga's Birger Madsen and Dawda Leigh will be available. Erik Hagen and Freddy Dos Santos also will be inactive for the visitors due to long term injuries.
Sandefjord - Stabaek
Mikkel Diskerud will hope to finish strong in this year's Eliteserien with a solid performance on the road as Stabaek visit Sandefjord at Komplett.no Arena on Sunday.
After starting last week's match, Diskerud may once again get the nod from head coach Jan Jonsson to be on the field at kickoff.
Since returning from the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, Diskerud has played well including picking up an assist in a victory last week over Bodo/Glimt.
Sandefjord reserve goalkeeper Matthew Allen is expected to once again watch from the bench although it did come to light last week that starting netminder Espen Bugge Pettersen has requested a transfer away from the club this offseason which may result in a starting spot for Allen next year.
Like Start, the hosts were newly-promoted to start the season and have stayed in the middle of the table all season long to solidify another spot in next year's Eliteserien.
Stabaek, on the other hand, had a dreadful start to this year's campaign but a strong summer and fall rocketed Jonsson's squad up the standings. There still remains a slim chance at picking up a silver medal but it is likely that the visitors will finish third.
What is known is that Stabaek fans will see their team play in Europe for the third consecutive year after qualifying for the 2010-2011 Europa League.
Sandefjord's Samuel Isaksen is nursing an injury and is likely to miss the finale while Stabaek's Inge Andre Olsen is expected to sit this one out as well.
Alta - Nybergsund
Jay Needham and Alta cap off their solid 2009 1. Division season with a match-up versus Nybergsund on Sunday at Finnmarkshallen Arena in Alta.
Needham has started the last two matches at center back so it remains to be seen whether or not head coach Aasmund Bjorkman will return the native Texan to his normal midfielding spot or leave him on defense.
Nybergsund defender Connor Tobin will hope to see some second half minutes off the bench for head coach Ola Brenden.
Road woes once again plagued Alta last week as they failed to pick up a win away from their home arena for the sixth time in a row.
The scoreless draw at Lov-Ham, coupled with Sarpsborg's victory, eliminated Alta from the promotion playoff chase.
However the Finnmarkshallen faithful are likely to come out in large numbers to salute their team who made an unlikely run at earning a ticket to the Eliteserien.
Many experts tabbed the northern Norwegian squad as one of the likelier teams to be relegated from the 1. Division this year.
Bjorkman's squad evidently used that as motivation and hung around the top half of the league nearly all season long.
Nybergsund enter the match with their saftey in tow. Brenden's squad got off to a tremendous start to the season only to see a miserable summer result in a drop all the way down to the relegation zone.
That stretch of losing resulted in the benching of several players including Tobin who factored in 19 matches this year.
Shortly thereafter, the visitors returned to gather several key wins and ensured another spell in the 1. Division.
Alta are not reporting any injuries while Nybergsund may be without Kim Ojo and Tore Andreas Gundersen.
Adin Brown is expected to watch from the bench during Aalesund's finale versus Stromsgodset.
Tyrel Lacey is out with a torn meniscus and will not factor in Lyn's home date with Fredrikstad.
Brian Waltrip continues to recuperate from a fractured ankle and is not expected to factor in Molde's encounter with Lillestrom.