American Exports: Aron Johannsson, AZ Alkmaar drawn with Benfica for Europa League quarterfinal

Aron Johannsson celebrates a goal for AZ Alkmaar

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of AZ Alkmaar

AMSTERDAM – The last American standing in continental cup play term has been handed an extremely tough Europa League quarterfinal assignment, with Aron Jóhannsson and AZ Alkmaar set to face Portuguese giants Benfica after Friday's draw.

The clubs will be playing each other for the first time, starting with AZ's home leg on April 3. The Cheese Farmers, who are 3-1-1 lifetime against European opponents from Portugal, will head south for the return one week later.

This marks the second time in three seasons a US forward has helped AZ to the Europa League final eight. Following in the footsteps of Jozy Altidore, Jóhannsson has hit twice in 12 career tourney matches, including the lone goal of the tie in their round-of-16 disposal of Anzhi Makhachkala.

The Alkmaar side has never won this tournament, but finished second in the 1981 UEFA Cup, which was renamed the Europa League four years ago.

FULL QUARTERFINAL DRAW

AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica
FC Basel vs. Valencia
FC Porto v Sevilla
Lyon vs. Juventus