PREVIEW: WEEKEND FINNISH ACTION
Greg Eckhardt and VPS return home to take on upstarts AC Oulu while Daniel Antunez and FC Inter will square off against Europa League entrants MyPa in Veikkausliiga action.
VPS - AC Oulu
Eckhardt and VPS begin a brutal stretch of three matches in nine games when they host AC Oulu on Friday at Hietalahti Stadium in Vaasa.
The former Clemson standout has started seeing time as a central midfielder of late for VPS head coach Tommi Pikkarainen who has utilized Eckhardt at both defender and midfielder this season.
Eckhardt's play in his last match versus Lahti also earned him honors as one of the best players of the match.
Unfortunately for the hosts, life in the Veikkausliiga this year has proven to be difficult as VPS currently sit in 12th place with the danger of the relegation spots looming close.
Newly promoted AC Oulu will be no pushovers as the club currently occupies eighth place in the league standings.
A slew of injuries and suspensions will hamper the visitors as Jarkko Hurme, Canadian Frank Jonke and team captain Antti Pehkonen are all suspended while Mika Hänninen and Tommi Kauppinen are injured.
VPS' injury list is also a long one as American goalkeeper Brian Pope, Antonio Inutile, Valtter Laaksonen, Jan Berg, Joacim Tuuri, Tero Koskela and Jyrki Saranpään are all unavailable.
MyPa - FC Inter
It will be a quick turnaround for Antunez and FC Inter who head to Kouvola to take on dangerous MyPa at Saviniemi Stadium on Sunday.
Antunez will take his normal starting spot on the Inter back line come the opening whistle.
Inter are coming off arguably their best win of the season, a 1-3 victory over Haka that shot Inter up to seventh in the Veikkausliiga standings.
The Turku club has been sparked by the play of Nigerian midfielder Kennedy Nwanganga who scored two dazzling goals against Haka.
Another road test will be difficult however as they are encountering a MyPa team that played in midweek against Estonian club FC Trans Narva in the first round of Europa League qualifying.
MyPa emerged victorious 0-2 and will look for a similar result versus Antunez and company.
Both head coaches should have full squads available.