DAVID SMITH - Friday, September 14, 2012
Jozy Altidore and AZ will hope the international break was enough to leave their previous blowout loss in the dust while Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond will look to extend their perfect start.
AZ Alkmaar - Roda JC Kerkrade
With 14 days separating Sunday's home date with Roda from their embarrassing loss at PSV prior to the international break, Jozy Altidore and his AZ teammates will try to restart their season with a much-needed victory.
The early sending off of AZ defender Etienne Reijnen doomed AZ to a vicious lashing in Eindhoven, with the team giving up a shocking five goals en route to a 5-1 loss they would prefer to forget ever happened.
Including their failed Europa League qualifying play-off in the days prior, which also culminated in an embarrassing beat-down by Russian bank breakers Anzhi Makhachkala, this pushed AZ's winless run to four games, and dropped them into the lower half of the Eredivisie standings.
Their opponents for Sunday finally picked up their first win of the season just prior to the international break, putting away a trio of scores against Willem II Tilburg, and will be looking to add to AZ's misery.
AZ head coach Gertjan Verbeek will be painfully short-staffed for the encounter. Forward Johann Berg Gudmundsson joins Reijnen on the suspended list, star midfielder Maarten Martens could still be sidelined with a hamstring problem and defender Thomas Lam is likely still out with a thigh problem.
Additionally, forward Fernando Lewis along with midfielders Celso Ortiz and Ali Messaoud are all out with knee injuries.
Roda are not reporting any missing players from their available roster.
FC Eindhoven - Helmond Sport
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond will try to extend their league's best streak of four straight wins on Friday evening when they visit struggling FC Eindhoven on Friday evening.
Helmond have been the dominant force in the Jupiler League through the first four games of the season, picking up four wins in the process while putting away a league's best 11 goals.
Kazlauskas has played every minute so far, and is a lock to start on the right side of the field for the team on Friday.
Eindhoven challenged for promotion much of last season, but have struggled mightily in the new term, with a single win and three losses leaving them in the nether regions of the standings.
Helmond have no players reported missing, however Eindhoven have have serious injury woes hitting the squad.
forwards Jelle van Kruijssen and Josemar Makiavala are both out with knee problems, midfielder Fried Deschilder is also set to miss, and the defensive trio of Timothy Durwael, Martijn Thomassen and Joep Zweegers are all out with various knocks.