BENJAMINSEN BIDING TIME AT STABAEK
Stabaek Under-19 player Erik Benjaminsen says he is perfectly content to be playing with the club's second team while he patiently waits his turn to earn a contract with Stabaek's senior team.
Even though Benjaminsen was thrilled to be training with the senior team last month at the La Manga Cup in Spain, he explains that heading into the 2010 season, the best thing for him will be to play with the team known as Stabaek II in Norway's 2. Division.
"The best thing for me is playing for the second team," Benjaminsen recently told YA. "I don't think getting a professional contract would be good for me right now. They have better players at my position and I wouldn't be playing."
For now, the 17 year old will remain at Stabaek II and without a professional contract meaning he will not be eligible for a call-up in any Eliteserien matches for the senior team.
While the dual citizen is happy to be with the club's U-19 team for now, Benjaminsen fondly recalls the time he spent with the senior team during their preseason and playing against the reigning US Open Cup champions in La Manga.
"I practiced with the senior team the whole preseason," continued Benjaminsen. "I was mostly on the bench during matches but did make my debut versus Moss. After two months, we went to la Manga and that was agood learning experience watching all the games down there. I got to play in the final five minutes versus the Seattle Sounders so it was special going up against a great player like Freddie Ljungberg."
One of the aims of Benjaminsen's offseason was to improve his strength in his upper-body and his right foot.
The attacking midfielder hit the weights hard during the winter months while closely monitoring his diet to ensure optimal results.
Heading into the season, the left-footed Benjaminsen believes he will reap the benefits of his hard work by becoming a stronger and more skillful player.
"I worked hard on getting stronger and was doing alot of eating and lifting weights," he said of his offseason workouts. "I made sure I was eating the right foods and bulking up.
"I also wanted to get my right foot stronger so I would have more options on the field."
The strong friendship between Benjaminsen and Stabaek senior team member Mikkel Diskerud has been widely chronicled as the two dual citizens keep close ties.
Another Norwegian-American who is starting to make a name for himself, Sebastian Troupe of Baerum, is also a good friend of Benjaminsen's despite the bitter rivalry that exists between Stabaek II and Baerum.
The San Francisco-born Benjaminsen admires the play and the technical skills possesed by Troupe and adds that when the two clubs, which are separated by just a few miles in the Oslo suburb of Baerum, meet on the field, it is always a fierce contest.
"Seb is a really quick player, very technical and just hard to play against", Benjaminsen said of the Baerum defender.
"It is always a battle when Stabaek II plays Baerum. It's become a nice rivalry. They beat us on our home field last year 0-4 but then we came back and beat them there 3-2. This year should be good too," he concluded.
Benjaminsen and Stabaek II kick off their season on April 19th when they host Asane.