American Exports preview: Silverware on line for Gooch
AMSTERDAM – The Champions League final isn't the only game going on across the pond this weekend, with American exports set to take aim at cup glory, a league penthouse and a long-awaited promotion.
All times listed in ET.
Sporting CP vs. Académica (Sunday, noon on Sport TV Americas)
American: Oguchi Onyewu (SCP) – Gooch is likely to start in the heart of defense for the Lions, who will chase after their 20th Portuguese Cup crown. This piece of silver is actually a double prize, as winning would upgrade Sporting from the Europa League playoff round to the group phase.
Sporting have won 11 of Onyewu's 15 starts this term and have never lost to Académica away from home. The underdogs, who finished 12th in league play this season, are also 0-2 against the Lisbon giants in cup play.
DUTCH PROMOTION/RELEGATION FINALS
VVV Venlo vs. Helmond Sport (Sunday, 8:30 am)
American: Charles Kazlauskas (HS) – The right-sider returns from suspension, probably to reclaim the right wing position for the last and biggest game of the season. The visitors must rally in the decisive second leg after collapsing late in a 2-1 loss at home on Thursday.
Helmond Sport have been out of the Eredivisie since 1984, and hold the short memory of last year's promotion final drubbing by Excelsior. They will arrive with six wins from a 10-game road unbeaten streak, but are also winless on the last eight trips to nearby Venlo.
Brøndby vs. FC Nordsjælland (Sunday, 10 am)
Americans: Clarence Goodson (BIF), Michael Parkhurst (FCN) – The Wild Tigers are trying to hunt down their first Danish title, with captain Goodson's Brøndby in their way two games from the finish line. Parkhurst will start, probably at right back, for the visitors.
The top-ranked Superliga defense of Nordsjælland has allowed just five goals in winning seven of their last 10 away matches. However, FCN have posted just one victory from 12 previous visits to Brøndby.
Stabæk vs. FK Haugesund (Sunday, noon)
Americans: Ricardo Clark, Sean Cunningham (SF) – Both Americans should start on what will be a day of heavy hearts at Nadderud Stadion. It'll be the first game for Stabæk since defender Tor-Marius Gromstad was found dead on Monday.
Since an opening day draw, Stabæk have dropped seven straight by a combined 22-4 tally, but the home side will be very eager to honor their lost teammate. Loaned-out midfielder Mikkel Diskerud will be in attendance, having been granted Europa League playoff leave by Gent for Thursday's funeral.
BEST OF THE REST
Silkeborg vs. SønderjyskE (Conor O'Brien) – Sunday, 10 am
Sandnes vs. Molde FK (Josh Gatt) – Sunday, noon
Hønefoss (Steve Clark) vs. Vålerenga – Saturday, noon