DAVID SMITH - Friday, March 18, 2011
Jozy Altidore will do his part to help Bursasor take full points at Ankaragucu while Freddy Adu and Rizespor will try to surge to the top of the 1. Lig standings at Belediyespor.
Bursaspor - MKE Ankaragucu
Jozy Altidore should get the starting nod atop the Bursaspor attack on Monday evening when they host MKE Ankaragucu in Turkish SuperLig action.
After being in the race for a repeat of their first-ever league title last season, Bursaspor have hit on hard times lately and have fallen almost completely out of contention. Over their last five games they have only notched a single win, but have otherwise drawn a disappointing three times while also suffering an embarrassing blow-out loss.
While generally playing a positive role in the team's attack and helping his teammates to get on the scoring sheet, Altidore has yet to find the net himself in what is threatening to look like a repeat of his previous loan spell at Hull City in the English Premier League, where tallied just one goal in 28 appearances.
Fortunately for the American, he is surrounded by a more apt cast of characters on the field, and the biggest pressure facing the team is a fight for a better European place rather than against the spectre of relegation.
Nevertheless, the seven-point gap which has developed between Bursaspor and the second Champions League place currently held by Trabzonspor is a concern to the team, and they can only hope that Ankaragucu will once again be their whipping boys as the teams meet for a second time in league play.
The first game between the two teams saw Bursa put on one of their best performances of the season, racking up five goals over a half-hour span to cruse to their biggest margin of victory in the season.
Their opponents have improved in the time since and are sitting a respectable 12th place in the 18-team league, however the home fans at the Bursa Ataturk Stadium will be looking for more blood as they hope to rescue their shrinking shot at once again reaching Europe's elite competition next season.
Head coach Ertugrul Saglam will still be without defender Gocek Vederson who is nearing recovery, however midfielders Ozan Ipek and Ivan Ergic are possibilities to make the final cut as they have returned to training during the week.
The visitors will be without two regular contributors as forwards Metin Akan and Stanislav Sestak are unavailable due to injury.
Akhisar Belediyespor - Caykur Rizespor
Freddy Adu will look to keep his starting role in Rizespor's attack on Sunday for their visit to Akhisar Belediyespor, as the team looks to climb into the league's top spots.
Rizespor are still in the thick of a wide-open race of teams fighting to reach Turkey's top flight, with a single point separating first from sixth, and another three teams easily within shooting distance just below.
Adu and his on-field colleagues are currently in fourth place still on a spot destined for the promotion playoff, but will hope that a win against one of the league's teams fighting at the opposite end of the standings will propel them into the top two, if not the division lead.
They have spent the last five games alternating between wins and scoreless draws, with last week's deadlock against Giresunspor being perhaps the most grueling as they were forced to hang on for the last half-hour with just ten men on the field.
If they keep their recent pattern, a win should be in the cards against Belediyespor and would extend their current streak without a loss to six games.
Rizespor will be missing Gokhan Kaba as the forward sits out on suspension for his red card last weekend, but otherwise neither team is reporting any absences prior to the game.