American Exports: Rolfe survives, Bedoya advances
Survival for one American came down to the last minute of the final matchday of the season and a goal that wasn’t even scored by one of his teammates.
Former Chicago Fire standout Chris Rolfe and Aalborg survived a harrying final day on Sunday as the American watched from the bench during a 2-0 loss at league champions FC Copenhagen. A 2-1 lead by Randers over bottom club Esbjerg in another league match seemingly condemned Aalborg (35 points) to the second division, but an 89th-minute equalizer by Esbjerg saved Rolfe’s club, sending Randers (34 points) down with Esbjerg (33 points) as the two teams relegated in Denmark.
No drama in other SAS Superligaen finales in Denmark. Clarence Goodson continued his successful stint with Brøndby, going the distance in a 2-0 road win at SønderjyskE. Brøndby finish in third place in the league table.
Right behind Goodson’s squad in fourth place is Michael Parkhurst’s FC Nordsjælland, who earned a 0-0 tie against visiting FC Midtjylland with the former Revs player going the distance.
It was also the end of the season in France, where Carlos Bocanegra went the full 90 in Saint-Étienne’s 1-1 tie at home vs. Paris St. Germain. With the home team leading 1-0 late in the match, Bocanegra pulled down Jean-Eudes Maurice in the box and PSG’s Mathie Bodmer converted from the PK spot to equalize in stoppage time. Saint-Étienne finish a respectable 10th place, smack in the middle of the Ligue 1 table.
In the Round of 16 of the domestic cup competition in Sweden – the Svenska Cupen – Alejandro Bedoya celebrated a possible US Gold Cup call-up by helping his team score a lone second-half goal as Örebro advanced to the quarterfinals past GAIS. Bedoya challenged a defender in the box after his shot was blocked and teammate Markus Astvalds pounced on the loose ball to score. Bedoya and Örebro also have their goalkeeper to thank after he saved a late GAIS penalty kick to preserve the win.
In other Svenska Cupen action American central defender Ryan Miller went 90 but Halmstads suffered an early ouster at the hands of visiting Malmö FF, who registered a 3-0 road win. Gale Agbossoumonde also went 90 for Djurgårdens, who were also eliminated after conceding a goal two minutes from time at IFK Göteborg.
In Norway’s Tippeligaen league action, Mikkel Diskerud went the full 90 as Stabæk came from behind to grab a 4-2 road win at IK Start including three goals in a seven-minute span during the second half. Stabæk are now just one point behind the league frontrunners.
Molde FK, where Josh Gatt and Sean Cunningham ply their trade, are five points behind the pace after a deflating 5-0 loss at FK Haugesund. Gatt came on to play the entire second half with his team already down 3-0, while Cunningham did not figure in the squad.
In Holland, Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond Sport made it interesting but could not do the miraculous and overturn a 5-1 first leg home loss in the Dutch promotion/relegation playoff. Helmond Sport will spend another year in the second tier. After Helmond Sport flew out to a 2-0 lead in Sunday’s second leg, Excelsior responded with four unanswered for a 4-2 final victory, which saw Kazlauskas go the full match.
In Portugal, Gregg Garza was a second-half sub in Estoril Praia’s 1-0 win at Belenenses in their finale of the Portuguese second division Liga Orangina. The club finishes the season in 10th place, 17 points off the pace of the two promotion winners.