MIDSEASON DANISH PREVIEW
The Danish leagues, which have been on winter hiatus since November, start off again this weekend with a full round in the SAS Liga. Tally Hall joins Esbjerg as the back-up keeper, bringing the total of honor division Yanks to five.
When the second flight kicks off on April 1st, there will be with yet another new Danish-based Yank as Jeremiah White is expected to make his league debut for Aarhus GF at home against Fremad Amager.
An exciting second half awaits, with close races in both the SAS Liga and the Viasat Sport Division, with Yanks in the middle of the action, so let's take a look...
: Fourth place, SAS Liga
: José Mota (Viborg FF)
Second half outlook
Aalborg BK have not been very busy on this winter's transfer market. No one has left the squad; not even midfielder Rasmus Würtz, who like Pearce, was expected to head for bigger and better things.
Aside from two youth players promoted to the senior squad, the only new face in the squad is Brazilian striker José Mota, who was brought in from Viborg FF. Califf's place in central defense remains unchallenged.
Aalborg will try to make a repeat of the surprisingly good start they got to the season, where they spent seven rounds at the top of the table before beginning the descent to their current fourth place. The main cause of this drop has been inefficiency in front, and Mota is hoped to be the solution.
"Mota has come in and done a good job. He has been injured a little bit, and hasn't been able to do so much, but I'm looking forward to seeing him when he's fully fit. He and Rade (Prica) up there are going to be two big bodies, so I think it's going to be very dangerous in that respect."
"I've got very high expectations. In the preseason, we've continued the form that we had in the fall. I think we're looking very good, and hopefully we'll be able to catch Midtjylland and (Odense)."
: Fifth place, SAS Liga
: Martin Bernburg (FC Copenhagen), Bajram Fetai (Silkeborg), Henrik Bødker (Roskilde)
: Bosun Ayeni (SønderjyskE), Joseph Kamwendo (unattached), Danny Olsen (FC Midtjylland)
Pearce was one of the hottest sale prospects in the league heading into the break, but surprisingly he remains with FC Nordsjælland, where he will now play out the remaining few months of his contract. He could still be reunited with former University of Portland teammate Matthew Dallman, who has been trialling successfully with FCN, as well as with Bolton and Bayern Munich II.
The Wild Tigers are still in touch with the top spots, and therefore capable of earning both Royal League and UEFA Cup berths. They have a tough remaining schedule, though, which starts off Sunday evening against highly motivated hosts Brøndby.
"We sold one of our wingers and two others are injured, so that is a disadvantage for us at this point. We are very thin in the winger's department, but we have also picked up a good striker who can fill into any attacking roles. Minus the injuries, the team did not suffer any great loss, so we should be stronger then before."
"We must focus hard in training, and take each game one at a time. We have a tough program this second half of the season, but if we stick to what we do best I think we will have a very good shot at UEFA Cup, as well as Royal League."
: Sixth place, SAS Liga
: Hall (free transfer), Jonas Bjurström (Trelleborg), Igors Stepanovs (free transfer)
: Jan Hoffman (Vejle BK), Martin Jensen (Sandefjord Fotball), Tommy Løvenkrands (SønderjyskE)
Esbjerg have had a mediocre first half of the season, leading to their current position as sixth in the league. They can still enter the race for medals, but will have to produce results from the restart.
Hall is the latest Yank in the SAS Liga. He has been brought to Esbjerg fB to replace Jan Hoffman as reserve goalkeeper, and to watch and learn from veteran keeper Lars Winde. Barring an injury to the 31-year old captain, Hall will be spending most of his time on the bench.
"This team scored a lot of goals, but gave up a lot as well, so we are looking to continue our attacking success and are working on staying organized defensively."
"We are not content at all with being sixth in the league and will be looking to move up some spots on the table. If we are still sixth at the end of the season, I think it will be looked upon as a bad result. We have potential to perform better than our record shows."
"I don't see the transition into this level taking me very long to be comfortable with. I have always enjoyed working very hard and I plan on continuing that to make myself the best goalkeeper I can be."
Robbie Russell[endlink] and http://www.yanks-abroad.com/content.php?mode=players&id=87
: Ninth Place, SAS Liga
: Tom Reidar Haraldsen (Moss FK)
: José Mota (Aalborg BK)
As the only double Yank team in Denmark, Viborg have already been ousted from the Scandinavian Royal League. Three draws in six games against Vålerenga from Norway and Swedish teams Elfsborg and AIK Stockholm was the result of Anders Linderoth's first challenge as Viborg's coach.
The Greens closed the first half of the SAS Liga season with three wins and two draws in seven games, but will need to step up the point production significantly if they wish to end the campaign in the better half of the standings.
Robbie Russell's role in the squad also seems to be unchanged, as he has been subbed both on and off at right midfield, as well as right back. With Mota gone to Aalborg BK, Zewe has one less playing time competitor to worry about, but he is still behind Sammy Youssouf, Lasse Kryger, Paul Obiefule and veteran striker Steffen Højer in the line.
"The second half of the season we hope to move up in the table. We have a new trainer and things have been going okay. We have had some injury problems in the first half, so hopefully we stay at full strength for the rest of the season."
"Another goal our team has is to make the Cup final. We are in the final eight now and drew a (Viasat) 1st Division team. If we are in good form and with a little luck, who knows what could happen?"
"I hope to break into first 11 once I find my form. But there are some experienced guys in front of me, so right now I am just learning and looking forward to the opportunities I get."
: Sixth place, Viasat Sport Division
: White (FC Gueugnon), Olof Persson (Malmö FF), Kari Arnason (Djurgården IF), Razak Salifu (free transfer)
Aarhus were relegated last season, and after a shaky start to this season, leaving them in sixth, they have brought in the reinforcements necessary to re-enter the race for promotion. White is one of the new recruits expected to carry his weight immediately.
Aarhus came into the winter break six points away from promotion, but an administrative deduction of three points from rivals Køge leaves SønderjyskE in second place, five points ahead of Aarhus, making the race for promotion even closer.
"It feels good to be in a new club with ambitions like this club has. The season begins on the first of April and I am excited."
"We have beaten a few first league teams pretty soundly when we were at full strength and I have a great feeling about this team's potential." We work hard and have fun here. In France, you often go to training and do not enjoy yourself, which was the main reason I didn't remain in France."
"The crop is young, energetic, eager to learn, and talented. I think that with the winter signings, there is a proper balance between young and old players. The team here is less technical than in France, but we are tougher, and fight hard for 90 minutes."