Canadian Exports: Relegation battles, CL berths abound
Most leagues across Europe are in the business end of their seasons, meaning there it is plenty of excitement to be had. Unfortunately for many Canadians abroad, this eventful spell comes in the form of a relegation battle.
Notable amongst them is veteran fullback Kevin McKenna, who looks like he’ll have to put in some extra work if he wants his FC Cologne side to stay up in the Bundesliga.
With just one game remaining in the German season, Cologne are in 16th place. This past Saturday, McKenna played 90 minutes as Cologne lost 4-1 to Freiburg. The result means Cologne can’t catch Augsburg for 15th and safety in next year’s Bundesliga.
With just a two-point cushion over Hertha Berlin, Cologne can still be caught and relegated outright, so a result in their final game would assure the team of a playoff with the third-placed team in the 2.Bundesliga. However, their final game is against none other than Champions League finalists Bayern Munich, meaning a result would be a major feat.
Another Canadian facing relegation is Junior Hoilett, who is fighting the drop with Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League.
Hoilett played 90 minutes for Rovers on Sunday as they dropped a 2-0 decision to Tottenham Hotspur. The result keeps Rovers in 19th of 20 teams in the English top flight, three points from safety. However, with rumors of a summer transfer flying, Hoilett may still find himself in the Premier League even if Rovers are relegated.
In Portugal, midfielder Pedro Pacheco started but was taken off in second-half stoppage time in Santa Clara’s 1-1 draw with Liga de Honra leaders Estoril on Saturday.
Santa Clara are in 12th with 33 points and are still not assured of their spot in the league next season. With two games remaining, the Azoreans are just three points clear of the relegation zone.
In the Netherlands, it’s not a relegation fight that Atiba Hutchinson’s PSV Eindhoven has to worry about – they’re eyeing a spot in next seasons UEFA Champions League.
Hutchinson played the full 90 for PSV on Sunday in their 3-1 win over Roda JC. With the result, PSV vaulted ahead of AZ Alkmaar to 63 points. With just two games remaining in the Eredevisie season, PSV are just a single point back of Feyenoord for second place and a berth in the Champions League.
Still in the Netherlands but down a division, midfielder Alex Marello saw some rare action for Veendam. Marello was a second-half substitute in their 2-0 loss to Zwolle in their final game of the season.
Veendam finished the season in 16th place in the 18-team league, just five points ahead of last-place Emmen, though relegation was not a worry this year, with no third-division sides opting to go up a league.
In England, David Edgar's Burnley don't have relegation to worry about, having secured a spot in the middle of the table, and can start planning for next season's attempt to return to the Premiership.
Edgar has made himself a fixture in the heart of the Burnley defense and that was no different this past week as he played the whole game in his team's 1-1 draw with Bristol City. Burnley finished the season with 62 points, good enough for 13th place.
Heading north to Scotland, forward Marcus Haber got a rare start for St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday. But it wasn’t the happiest occasion for the 23-year-old, as the Saints were hammered 5-1 by Motherwell. St. Johnstone currently sit on 50 points, good enough for fourth place.
In Romania, goalkeeper Milan Borjan put in another assured performance on his loan with Vaslui. The team picked up a 2-1 win over Astra Ploeiesti to move up to 52 points.
Though tied on points with Rapid Bucharest for second place – which would assure a spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers – Vaslui have an inferior goal difference by just a single goal, ensuring a tight race for that coveted berth in Europe's top competition.
A pair of Canadians also saw action in Germany's lower leagues.
While he has often been used as a sub, Randy Edwini-Bonsu played the entire game for Eintracht Braunschweig in their 2-0 loss to Bochum on Sunday in the 2.Bundesliga.
A league down, Adam Straith also went 90 minutes with Saarbrucken in their 3-2 win over Kickers Offenbach.
In Switzerland, midfielder Josh Simpson picked up a start for BSC Young Boys and played 62 minutes in their 1-0 win over FC Zürich on Tuesday. Young Boys are in third place with 43 points in the Swiss Super League.
While many Canadians are wrapping up their season, there’s still a long way to go for those in Scandinavia and Asia.
Goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld’s Valerenga picked up their third win of the season with the Canadian between the posts. Valerenga knocked off Brann 2-1 and sit in seventh place after just six games in Norway’s Eliteserien.
It hasn't been as good a start for fellow goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski. Playing for Örebro in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, Chencinski and his team are still looking for a win after six games into their season. On Sunday, Chencinski was in goal as Örebro dropped a 3-1 decision to GIF Sundsvall.
In Finland, defender Mason Trafford played 90 minutes for Mariehamn in their 0-0 draw with Honka. After four games in the Finnish Veikkausliiga season, Mariehamn have five points, good for seventh place in the 12-team league.
In Singapore, Sherif El-Masri started and scored in the 13th minute for Young Lions in their 1-0 win over Gombak United. After nine games in the S. League season, Young Lions have seven points and are in 11th of 13 teams but have a game in hand on every other team.