PREVIEW: WEEKEND NORWEGIAN ACTION
Start's American pairing of Hunter Freeman and Clay Goodson travel to Trondheim to take on defending champions Rosenborg while Kenneth Di Vita Jensen hopes to kickstart Honefoss' season versus Aalesund.
Rosenborg – Start
There will plenty of intrigue on Monday evening when IK Start pays a visit to reigning Eliteserien champions Rosenborg at Lerkendal Stadion in Trondheim.
Defenders Hunter Freeman and Clay Goodson will take their usual starting spots on Start's back line. Freeman will be at right back while Goodson will anchor the center back position.
Start head coach Knut Torum saw his squad begin their 2010 season with a solid 2-0 win over Sandefjord last weekend where Goodson pull down Man of the Match honors.
The timing of the former FC Dallas man was impeccable as US national team Bob Bradley was in attendance at the match and may have permanently inked Goodson into his World Cup roster following the defender's performance.
Freeman was stellar as well notching an assist in his first full match back following offseason ankle surgery.
A much tougher matchup awaits them on Monday as Rosenborg are loaded from top to bottom. The hosts also have plenty of incentive heading into the match as it was Torum's squad who ended up spoiling Rosenborg's dream of an undefeated season last year.
The 2-3 win for Start last October in Trondheim was also not without controversy. Rosenborg forward Rade Prica gifted Start a late penalty kick after shoving Goodson in the area which Costa Rican midfielder Cristian Bolanos cooly converted to complete the upset.
Prica would later call out Goodson in the media for flopping all of which made the American a persona non grata in northwestern Norway.
Polemical decisions aside, the match features two clubs who have aspirations to be at the top of the league standings come November and should provide plenty of attacking at both ends.
Torum will be without Bard Borgersen, Jesper Mathisen and Petter Bruer Hanssen due to injuries while Rosenborg are expected to have a full squad available.
Stabaek - Valerenga
Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek's open their home campaign with a Saturday night affair versus Valerenga at Telenor Arena in Baerum.
After going the full 90 minutes in last week's 2-3 win over Odd, Diskerud can expect to get the starting nod again from coach Jan Jonsson on the right side of the Stabaek midfield.
Diskerud was instrumental in Stabaek's first goal last weekend when he successfully deked the Odd defense by jumping over a ball that rolled to Daniel Nannskog who fired home for the club's first 2010 Eliteserien goal.
Jonsson's squad showed the mettle that made them league champions in 2008 with the comeback victory and it was evident that the reuniting of Nannskog with Icelandic forward Veigar Pall Gunnarsson will be a formidable one for opponents all season long.
Gunnarsson was an integral part of the 2008 title winning team and parlayed that success into a new contract with French Ligue 1 club Nancy.
The move ended up being a disaster for the striker who then returned to the friendly confines of Baerum during the offseason.
Unfortunately for Jonsson, he will likely not be able to reply on Gunnarsson for Saturday's affair due to a groin injury which will place a greater emphasis on Diskerud to take up the offensive slack.
For the first time since 2007, American Troy Perkins will not be the man in net for Valerenga who opened their season with a 2-0 win over Viking.
Head coach Martin Andresen now relies on Lars Hirschfeld in goal and the early returns appear to be good for Perkins' replacement.
In addition to Gunnarsson, Stabaek will be without Jon Inge Hoiland while Valerenga will have a full squad available.
Honefoss - Aalesund
Norwegian-American Kenneth Di Vita Jensen will look to make an impact off the bench for Hønefoss, as they face the defending Norwegian Cup Champs, Aalesund FK, in their home opener on Sunday.
Di Vita Jensen, who entered in the 70th minute of last week's loss to Tromsø, is back after spending the 2009 season on loan to Jevnaker of the 3. Division.
Originally signed by Hønefoss in 2006, a young Di Vita Jensen used his time in Norway's fourth level of soccer to recover from a series of injuries.
Meanwhile Hønefoss' American keeper Steve Clark will be dressed and ready if called in as a substitute in net.
Also returning to the Eliteserien is fellow striker Madiou Konate, who was sidelined earlier this month due to an issue with his international transfer papers from Turkey's Ankaraspor.
Honefoss will hope that the addition of Konate and Di Vita Jensen on offense will result in a heap of goals.
With only one goal in a combined eight games thus far in 2010, the squad needs to find the back of the net if they hope to defeat the current league leaders, Aalesund.
Home game wins, in addition to goals, are also vital if the newly promoted Hønefoss wishes to remain in the Eliteserien next year.
The last time Hønefoss and Aalesund squared off was during the 2006 1. Division season when both teams won at home. Perhaps home field advantage, in front of a newly built 700 seats in AKA arena, may be the remedy Hønefoss needs to secure their first victory of 2010.