BERNSTEIN OPTIMISTIC HEADING INTO SEASON
New Mjondalen defender Rhett Bernstein believes that his club has the goods to make a run at promotion to the Eliteserien this year in Norway.
Bernstein joined the 1. Division club over the winter break and will be paired with fellow American Kyle Helton on Mjondalen's back line.
The former Brown standout's professional soccer career has had its twists and turns but Bernstein believes that the game in Norway just might be the right fit for his skill set.
"I think I will bring a strong, physical presence to the team," Bernstein recently told YA. "I also think that my passing game will be very helpful in our attack. The style in Norway is perfect for my play and is another reason why I chose Mjondalen. My leadership skills are also important especially at center back. Most importantly, my positive mentality and attitude will help my team without a doubt!"
Mjondalen flirted with relegation to Norway's 2. Division all during last season before a late stretch of positive results ensured that they would play another year in the country's second flight.
A big part of that improvement was due to American defender Graham Dugoni who has since departed the club.
Bernstein is hoping that he can pick up where Dugoni left off and help Mjondalen take the next step in its progression to the Eliteserien.
"The club expects to improve on its performances from last year," noted Bernstein. "Personally, if we keep improving on our past friendly performances, we can definitely be one of the stronger teams in the league, and obviously fight for a place to go up."
One of the drawbacks heading into the season according to Bernstein is the team's youth and inexperience. The stress a team faces when either fighting for promotion or avoiding relegation can exact a toll, especially on a squad unaccustomed to such a situation.
However, Bernstein goes on to add that the quality of talent on the squad could make them one of the most versatile and most-feared teams in the 1. Division potentially offsetting that lack of experience.
"The team is very young, talented, and a great group of guys," concluded Bernstein. "There are some exceptional players that add great versatility to our squad. We expect to do well this year in the league but anything can happen. It's too early to tell if we are good enough to get promoted, but at the same time, relegation is something that we all want to avoid."
Bernstein and Mjondalen start their 2011 season on April 3rd versus Kongsvinger.