BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, September 17, 2010
IFK Mariehamn's American trio will look to climb further away the relegation zone when they host Haka while Greg Eckhardt and VPS will aim for a valuable three points against Daniel Antunez and Inter Turku.
FC Haka – IFK Mariehamn
The American trio of Giuseppe Funicello, Mason Trafford, and Lamar Neagle will try to lead Mariehamn further away from the relegation zone when the club visits 13th place FC Haka on Monday.
Funicello and Trafford started for Mariehamn last weekend as the club picked up a crucial 2-1 win over TPS to lift the club into 11th place on goal differential.
There is very little breathing room for clubs at the bottom half of the Veikkausliiga with only five rounds remaining in the 2010 season.
As the season enters its final stretch, only four points separate sixth and thirteenth place. In the top level of Finland, the 14th place team is automatically relegated and the 13th place team must play in a playoff to stay in the top flight.
The three Americans on Mariehamn were all acquired in the week prior to the end of the summer transfer window to help the club avoid relegation.
Trafford, a central defender, has now started in the two games since he joined and is likely to start again along with the Italian-born American fullback Funicello.
Neagle, who is battling a minor groin injury, could return to health in time for the game and will be looking to earn his first minutes of the season for Mariehamn.
The two clubs last met in the league play on June 13th when Haka earned a 3-2 victory in Mariehamn's home stadium in the Aland Islands.
Haka enters the game with only two points in their previous three games.
In addition to Neagle's injury, IFK Mariehamn will be missing forwards Mikko Paatelainen and Sasha Anttilainen.
French midfielder Médoune Gueye is unlikely to recover in time for Monday's game and defender Boussad Houche will be a game-time decision.
FC Haka will be without injured defenders Kalle Parviaine Markus Joenmäki.
VPS - Inter Turku
Greg Eckhardt and tenth place VPS will be hoping to climb away from the relegation zone in the very tight Veikkausliiga when they host sixth place Inter Turku on Sunday.
In the last match for VPS against FC Haka, Eckhardt gave up a penalty on a questionable call that resulted in Haka's goal in the 1-1 draw.
The game will be of high stakes for VPS. They currently sit at 26 points but are only two points clear of 13th place and a relegation playoff. On the other hand, they are also only out of sixth place by two points.
The two clubs last met on June 14th when Inter Turku defeated VPS 1-0 at home.
Inter Turku's American defender Daniel Antunez has been injured recently but he could return to action on Sunday.
Inter Turku, however, will be without forwars Timo Furuholmen.
VPS will likely be without injured Tero Koskela for the match.