Monday, April 4, 2011
The grueling Scandinavian winter has drawn to a long-awaited close, ushering in a new season in Sweden.

The ranks of Americans plying their trade in Sweden's top two tiers have swollen during the offseason as four players have signed with new clubs in the country.

Meanwhile, last year's four mainstays will all return for another season. Headlining this group of veterans is Orebro's stalwart midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, who enters his third professional season preceded by his reputation as a standout player in the Allsvenskan. Bedoya's hard work was rewarded with a place in the US national team's January camp, where he was joined by Halmstads BK defender Ryan Miller.

In the Superettan, Nick Noble and Michael Thomas will once again suit up for Ljungskile SK, which continues to be a haven for American players abroad.

Joining this veteran foursome is a quartet of newcomers. US under-20 defender Gale Agbossoumonde has joined Djurgardens IF on a six-month loan, while Samuel Petrone signed with Mjallby after finishing his college career with Seton Hall.

In the Superettan, a pair of goalkeepers, Brian Edwards and Matt Pyzdrowski, have found homes in Degerfors and Angelholms FF as they seek to establish themselves in Europe.


Orebro SK
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=179Alejandro Bedoya[endlink]

Last season: 3rd

2011 Outlook:
While many American players flounder following a move to an unfamiliar environment in Europe, Bedoya's transition time in Swedish soccer was almost non-existent. After two solid years in which the former Boston College midfielder earned plaudits for his play, Bedoya enters the 2011 season regarded as one of Orebro's stars.

In 2010, Bedoya helped spur his team to a surprising third place finish. In 2011, Orebro will attempt to improve upon their previous finish and challenge for their first title. The club has twice in their history finished second.

Orebro's good showing also earned the club a ticket to the 2011-12 Europa League. However, Bedoya has just one more year left on his contract, which has led to speculation that he'll move to a bigger club this summer. If that comes to pass, Bedoya will not have the chance to take part in Orebro's European campaign.

Yanks Abroad Prediction

Orebro should be another top three team this year and can even contend for the Allsvenskan title.

Halmstads BK
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=185Ryan Miller[endlink]

Last season: 12th

2011 Outlook:
After surviving a relegation dogfight, Ryan Miller and Halmstads are aiming higher in 2011. Under the leadership of new Spanish manager Josep Clotet Ruiz, they hope to climb back up the standings that they last topped in 2000.

Miller's year started on a high note when he participated in his first national team camp in January. However, this experience came at a cost since it necessitated missing the first three weeks of pre-season. Upon his return to Sweden, Miller was hampered by illness and minor injuries, which have left him with precious little time to prepare.

With so little pre-season training under his belt, Miller may begin the season on the bench. Nonetheless, the defender competed for and won a starting place in 2009 at Ljungskile and in 2010 at Halmstads, so he will be undeterred by an early-season setback.

Miller says:
"We are very confident in our coach and the way he wants us to play. We are in a much better position to start the season then we were last year and everyone's mentality is in the right place."

Yanks Abroad Prediction

Halmstad will once again be teetering close to relegation or could very well drop.

Djurgardens IF
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=213Gale Agbossoumonde[endlink]

Last season: 10th

2011 Outlook:
After a long year fraught with an uncertainty, Agbossoumonde will hope that his peregrinations have come to an end in Stockholm. The highly-rated center back joined Djurgardens in February on a six-month loan with an option to buy, meaning that the club will have a chance to purchase his rights from Traffic Sports outright in August.

Agbossoumonde gained his first professional experience with Miami FC, which is now known as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. He joined Sporting Braga on loan in 2010, but a permanent transfer to the Portuguese Superliga fell through after a management change at the club.

Agbossoumonde's responsibilities with the US national teams will limit his availability at times. The Togo-born defender is currently with the U-20 national team at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Guatemala. Should the US qualify, he will likely be called up to the U-20 World Cup this summer.

The imposing 19-year old center back is expected to compete for a starting role immediately for Djurgardens, who are looking to recapture the success of the mid-2000s when they won three league titles in four years.

Yanks Abroad Prediction

Djurgarden should improve as last year was a little bit of an off-year. They usually finish in the top half of the standings.
Mjallby AIF
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=235Samuel Petrone[endlink]

Last season: 6th

2011 Outlook:
Mjallby had an outstanding 2010 season and will attempt to repeat their success in 2011. The doughty club represents a tiny town of just 1,272 inhabitants – more than five times less than the capacity of their stadium. Traditionally a Swedish yo-yo club, Mjallby returned to the Allsvenskan in 2010 and acquitted themselves very well.

Samuel Petrone joined Mjallby this offseason following an impressive trial in which his scoring touch was on prominent display. The former Seton Hall Pirate is expecting to begin the season on the bench, but over the course of a full season he could well earn a spot in the starting eleven.

Despite Mjallby's unexpected success, the club managed to avoid a widespread raid on their players, so they can be expected to challenge the top-tier clubs once again in 2011.

Petrone says:
"This year we feel that we have a very strong team and so we are shooting for around mid table, but of course we are going to try to pick up every point we can."

Yanks Abroad Prediction

Mjallby will probably drop off some, let's go with ninth or 10th.


Angelholms FF
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=240Matt Pyzdrowski[endlink]

Last season: 12th

2011 Outlook:
A late swoon in 2010 meant that Angelholms narrowly avoided dropping into the relegation playoff spots. The club achieved survival and now look to move up the standings in 2011.

Angelholms will go into the season with several reinforcements including former Sweden international Marcus Lindberg. They have also handed the number one shirt to their new American import, Matt Pyzdrowski.

The veteran of Marquette University and the Portland Timbers is expected to begin the season as the starting goalkeeper.

Pyzdrowski says:
"There definitely is a positive vibe going on at the club and we feel we are going to have a very good season. The direct goal has been to make sure we finish in the top half of the table, but I can tell you there is a desire to fight for the promotion spots. It would be a big turn around from last season but definitely possible."

Yanks Abroad Prediction

Despite Petrone's optimism, Angelholms is definitely a relegation candidate. They barely avoided it last year and we'd be surprised to see this season end differently.

Ljungskile SK
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=198Nick Noble[endlink], http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=208Michael Thomas[endlink]

Last season: 6th

2011 Outlook
Over the past three seasons, Ljungskile has been a popular destination for Americans. In 2011, Ljungskile will again count on Americans to help them with their promotion push.

Nick Noble served as Ljungskile's first choice goalkeeper last season and hopes to retain his starting role, although he has been slowed by sports hernia surgery in the offseason.

Michael Thomas will embark on his first full season with Ljungskile. Though selected in the 2010 MLS draft, Thomas chose to sign with Halmstads BK on a short-term contract. After his deal expired, the midfielder joined up with Ljungskile where he went right into the starting lineup.

Ljungskile finished in a solid sixth place in 2010 and will go into 2011 aiming for promotion to the Allsvenskan, where they last played in 2008.

Noble says:
We have made several key acquistions to the line up this year. I think we have definitely improved our team this year so I would have to think our chances of being promoted are pretty good.

Yanks Abroad Prediction

Ljungskile were actually decent last season, but we see them slipping back into 2009 form which was 10th or so.

Degerfors IF
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=players&id=239Brian Edwards[endlink]

Last season: 10th

2011 Outlook
In 2010, newly-promoted Degerfors consolidated in the middle of the Superettan standings and in 2011 they will attempt to continue their progress.

Degerfors' new campaign will feature an American goalkeeper, Brian Edwards. The former NCAA champion at Wake Forest has experience with Toronto FC and the San Jose Earthquakes. He will begin a new chapter of his career after landing in central Sweden.

Edwards says:
"We have a good squad that is getting stronger and stronger every day. It's a younger squad but we are hungry to improve on last year's mid-table finish and compete for a top three spot as well as battle for the Svenska Cup."

Yanks Abroad Prediction

Going down...down..down. They'll be lucky to stay up.
Saturday April 9, 2011 12:14 am
Bedoya off to a good start!

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