MEGHAN BRENNAN - Thursday, April 8, 2010
Hunter Freeman, Clay Goodson and high-flying Start travel to Bergen to take on Brann while something has to give when Steve Clark and Honefoss host Kongsvinger in Eliteserien action.
Brann - IK Start
Hunter Freeman, Clarence Goodson and the third place IK Start travel north to Brann Stadion on a quest to continue their unbeaten Eliteserien season.
Goodson will continue his leadership starting at center back and Freeman looks to contribute on both sides of the ball at right back.
The two defenders and the rest of Knut Torum's club are off to an impressive season start with a tie against Eliteserien powerhouse Rosenborg and a home win last week against Valerenga.
Start continues their offensive quest to the top of the Eliteserien with eleven goals and eight points. They top the league in goals scored and trail leader Aalesund by a slim two points.
Although Brann is off to a slightly slower start, the 14th place squad hasn't lost a match to IK Start since 2006. A filled stadium of loyal Brann fans in Bergen, Norway's second largest city will provide a tough environment for the visitors.
Midfielder Erik Huseklepp, one of the Eliteserien's brightest stars, will likely add to the unfriendly environment if he can make it past the back line of Freeman and Goodson. Huseklepp was responsible for fifteen of Brann's goals when they finished the 2009 season in fifth.
Brann will have a full squad available while Start will only miss midfielder Petter Hanssen.
Honefoss - Kongsvinger
Steve Clark will make his second Eliteserien start Sunday and Kennith Di Vita Jensen hopes to contribute off the bench for Honefoss' first win, as they host Kongsvinger at AKA Arena.
Clark, who was peppered with shots against Haugsund last week and conceded five goals, is ready for a fresh start in front of a home crowd.
Forward Di Vita Jensen came off the bench for the final fifteen minutes Monday and hopes to score his first goal of the season and Honefoss' second.
As the only two clubs with zero points in the Eliteserien, Honefoss and Kongsvinger currently represent the bottom of the league barrel. Honefoss gave up 15 goals for one scored over the first four games of the season.
Their visitors, Kongsvinger, boast an equally dire resume with no wins and no points. The threat of relegation looms over both teams' heads.
Kongsvinger's concerns were amplified last week when they lost two of their starters in the match against Aalesund. Defender Kai Olav Ryen is out for the season with a torn front cruciate ligament in his right knee and midfielder Magne Sturod will sit for six weeks waiting for his broken fibula to heal.
While Honefoss is physically healthy they face the challenge of overcoming the mental wound inflicted by a rough season start.
A player's meeting held Monday after the loss to Haugsund, has captain Frode Lafton saying the squad has come together is stronger than ever.
Lillestrom - Stabaek
Mikkel Diskerud and the rest of the Stabaek squad will be without head coach Jan Jonsson and starting striker Veigar Pall Gunnarsson on Saturday as they make the quick trip to face Lillestrom at Arasen Stadion.
Diskerud will start the game in his usual position at right midfield and looks to score his second goal of the season in front of a potentially large contingency of Stabaek supporters.
In front of Diskerud, Bernt Husker, on loan from IK Start, will attempt to fill the boots of Gunnarsson. The Icelandic striker sustained an ankle injury two weeks ago in the 2-2 tie with Eliteserien leader Aalesund and is out for three months.
While Gunnarsson will watch from the bench, head coach Jan Jonsson may not have such a privilege. He is currently appealing the Norwegian Football Association's decision to suspend him for Saturday's match.
The NFA's disciplinary committee doled out the punishment after an incident during last week's game with Tromso head coach Per-Mathian Hogmo. Jonsson believes he has served his sentence, as he was shown red and watched the last 25 minutes of the game from the grand stands.
Lillestrom, on the other hand will have a full roster of both players and coaching staff. A win for the hosts, who have scored 8 goals this season and conceded half as many as Stabaek, could potentially mean a top three spot in the Eliteserien.
Stabaek looks to break their three game losing streak, with their last win in the season opener on March 14th. A victory over Lillestrom would be the first since 2007.
Lyn - Nybergsund
Tyrel Lacey and Lyn hope to earn their first win of the season on Sunday during their home debut at Bislett Stadion in Oslo versus Nybergsund.
Lacey will take his customary spot in goal for the hosts against American Connor Tobin's former team.
Lyn have yet to pull down a victory since the Oklahoma netminder's team debut last August when they thumped Start 4-1 in the Eliteserien.
This year's roster is thin due to the club's well-documented budgetary constraints so it will once again be a challenge to avoid relegation.
The Oslo club also have a change in venue for its home matches as they no longer share Ullevaal Stadion with Eliteserien club Valerenga.
Lyn are now playing their home matches in the legendary Bislett Stadion, one of the sites of the 1952 Winter Olympic Games and an annual host of track and field's Bislett Games.
Nybergsund are coming off an opening win over Mjondalen and will look to make an early appearance at the top of the league standings.
Lyn are still without Endre Fotland Knudsen due to injury while Gudmann Thorisson is unavailable for Nybergsund.
Colin Burns will be the backup goalkeeper for Sarpsborg who host Fredrikstad on Sunday.