PREVIEW: WEEKEND NORWEGIAN ACTION
The Eliteserien resumes play this weekend with Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek looking to get back on track at two-time defending champions Rosenborg while the 1. Division campaign opens up for all the yanks in Norway.
Rosenborg – Stabaek
Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek will try to erase the nightmare of their season opening 0-7 loss to Lillestrom when they travel to Trondheim to take on 2009 and 2010 Eliteserien champions Rosenborg.
Diskerud will take his usual place in the Stabaek starting 11 as an attacking midfielder.
The 21 year old dual citizen spent his international break in camp with the US national team although Diskerud did not see any action in the two friendlies versus Argentina and Paraguay.
Stabaek were utterly humiliated in their 2011 debut two weeks ago against Lillestrom where it seemed the Canaries scored every time they had possession of the ball.
Now a visit to Lerkendal Stadion awaits the Baerum club in what will be a meeting between teams that have won the last three Eliteserien titles. Rosenborg are the two-time defending champions while Stabaek earned that honor in 2008.
In the previous two seasons, Rosenborg lost just a single match, a defeat to Hunter Freeman and Clay Goodson's Start back in October of 2009.
However 2011 appears to be a different story as Brann ended Rosenborg's unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win in Bergen.
Both teams will certainly be gunning for the three points which should make for some end-to-end action.
Starting Stabaek goalkeeper Jon Knudsen is questionable with an injury while the hosts will have a full squad.
Sogndal – Odd
Joseph Bendik and Sogndal make their home debut on Sunday when they host Odd at Fosshaugane Stadion.
Bendik looks set to start in goal for Sogndal who will be playing their first home match in Norway's top flight since 2004.
Sogndal are coming off a first week 2-1 loss in Drammen to Stromsgodset that saw the newly-promoted squad hang tough for the full 90 minutes.
Meanwhile Odd were drilled at home by Start already raising fears about its European aspirations this season.
Still, Bendik and the Sogndal defense will have to contend with a very young Odd attack that will be playing without fear. Forwards Snorre Krogsgård and Torgeir Borven are each just 19 years old and full of promise.
Both clubs will have full squads available.
Tromso – Molde
Josh Gatt will hope to see some significant minutes off the bench for Molde who welcome in Tromso to Aker Stadion on Sunday.
Gatt was a second half substitute in Molde's opening 3-0 loss at Sarpsborg two weeks but impressed enough to likely garner another appearance this weekend.
Fellow American Sean Cunningham will hope to make the gameday roster.
The US Under-20 man was not released by the club to participate in Under-20 World Cup qualifying in Guatemala so he will try to make up for that against Tromso who are traditionally one of the best defensive teams in Norway.
The northerners cruised to a 2-0 victory over Haugesund in their opener.
Both coaches are expected to have full squads.
Sandefjord – Honefoss
Steve Clark and Kenneth Di Vita Jensen's Honefoss begin their 1. Division campaign with a visit to Komplett.no Arena on Sunday to take on Sandefjord.
Clark will start in goal for the visitors while Di Vita Jensen will likely be on the bench but could be used as an option at forward in the second half.
Compatriot Colin Burns will watch this one from the bench as the Sandefjord backup goalkeeper.
Clark enters the 2011 season full of confidence after wrestling away the starting goalkeeping job from last year's number one Thomas Solvoll.
Much is expected of both clubs this season after their relegations from the Eliteserien last year.
Di Vita Jensen would like nothing more than a chance to improve on his three goal performance in 2010 and become a mainstay in the Honefoss attack.
No major injuries have been reported by either club.
Kongsvinger – Mjondalen
Mjondalen's Rhett Bernstein and Kyle Helton begin their Norwegian adventure with a visit to Gjemselund Stadion on Sunday to face Kongsvinger.
Bernstein is likely to start in defense for the guests while Helton's status is still in question.
The former Duke standout has been riddled with injuries during the preseason and may miss the match.
Mjondalen are looking to build off of a 10th place finish in last year's 1. Division and will need a steady defensive performance this season by Bernstein and Helton to accomplish that.
Meanwhile, Kongsvinger stand to be one of the best teams in the league as they look to earn promotion back to the Eliteserien after suffering relegation last year.
Outside of Helton, Mjondalen is expected to field a full squad.
Kongsvinger are not reporting any major injuries.
Asker – HamKam
Jonathan Borrajo will hope to make his HamKam debut when they visit Foyka Stadion on Sunday to play Asker.
It is still unknown if the American defender will be slotted into the starting 11 for the newly-promoted club.
After enduring the horrors of Norway's 2. Division, HamKam would like nothing better than a solid start to their 2011 1. Division to ease the worries of their fans.
HamKam's fall from grace has been well chronicled as the club went from the Eliteserien to Norway's third flight in a span of two years.
Financial issues still plague the club so the onus will be on Borrajo and company to put together a stretch of good results in the first few months of the season to generate interest from the public and earn more at the gate.
Neither club are reporting any major injuries.