CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Saturday, August 11, 2012
The draws for the next round of UEFA Champions League and Europa League took place today, and the Americans involved now know who they will be facing.
There are nine Americans still involved in the qualifying rounds of European competition, after Alejandro Bedoya signed today with Swedish side Helsingborg.
In the Champions League, Bryan Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona advanced past Azerbaijan's Neftci on a 6-2 aggregate, and the Israeli champions will square off in the final playoff round against BATE Borisov from Belarus, who advanced past Hungarian team Debrecen on a 3-1 aggregate. The games will take place on August 22 and 28.
Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht cruised past Lithuanian team Ekranas on an 11-0 aggregate, and have next drawn AEL Limassol from Cyprus. AEL defeated Partizan Belgrade by a 2-0 aggregate to reach the final playoff round. The Belgian champions will face AEL on August 22 and 28.
Bedoya and Helsingborg will take on Celtic, after crushing Slask Wrocklaw by a 6-1 aggregate in the third round of quaifying. The Scottish team, now presumed to be unrivaled favorites for Scotland's Premier League after the downfall of Rangers, got past Finland's HJK by a 4-1 aggregate.
Moving to the Europa League, Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 advanced past Ireland's St. Patrick's on a 5-0 aggregate, and have been drawn against Polish team Slask Wroclaw, who were eliminated from Champions League qualifying by Helsingborg.
Terrence Boyd's heroic effort yesterday against Vojvodina saw Rapid Vienna advance past the Serbian team on a 3-2 aggregate, and draw against Greece's PAOK Thessaloniki. The Greek team eased past Israel's Bnei Yehuda on a 6-1 aggregate in the last round.
Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar spring into European action against the high rolling Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala, who dispatched AZ's fellow Dutchmen Vitesse by a 4-0 aggregate in the last round.
Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting Lisbon will also have their first European action in the playoff round, where they will square off against Denmark's Horsens, who edged past Elfsborg on a 4-3 aggregate.
Josh Gatt and Molde were knocked out of Champions League qualifying, but remain in the hunt for the Europa League as they have drawn Eredivisie team Heerenveen, who advanced 4-1 past Romania's Rapid Bucuresti.
Lastly, Mikkel Diskerud has joined Rosenborg on a short term contract, and could see Europa League action with them in the playoff round. The Norwegian team squeaked past Switzerland's Servette by recording the away goal in a 1-1 aggregate. Rosenborg has drawn Legia Warsaw, who defeated Austrian team Josko Ried by a 4-3 aggregate.
The Europa League dates for home and away legs have been set for August 23 and 30, with the group stage draw to be held on August 31.