A decisive period for the Canadian national team’s 2014 World Cup hopes is barely more than two weeks away, and it wasn’t a great weekend on the injury front for Canadians abroad.
It got started last Friday in Germany as forward Olivier Occean was taken out after 20 minutes in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-0 win over Nürnberg. He was left out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game against Borussia Dortmund, which ended 3-3.
It’s reportedly a minor injury, but Occean had just recently recovered from another knock while playing for Canada earlier this month, meaning his match fitness could be a concern for a Canadian team that will need goals in pivotal World Cup qualifiers against Cuba and Honduras next month.
Things didn’t get much better in Norway on Monday, when Lars Hirschfeld played just two minutes before being replaced by his backup Gudmund Taksal Kongshavn in Vålerenga’s 3-2 win over Honefoss. Hirschfeld had suffered a bone bruise the previous week and was not fit to play. But thanks to a curious loophole exploited by his club, he started the match so that Kongshavn would be eligible to play for Vålerenga II, the club’s reserve team, which is fighting to dodge relegation from the Norwegian second division.
Fortunately for Canada, there’s a Plan B in the goalkeeping department: Milan Borjan (pictured above), who is enjoying plenty of playing time in Turkey with Sivasspor.
Borjan was in net on Sunday as Sivasspor beat Kasimpasa 1-0. Sivasspor have eight points in five games and are just a point out of second place in the league. In three straight starts for his club, Borjan has only conceded a single goal.
In the Netherlands, Atiba Hutchinson and PSV Eindhoven got back to winning ways on Sunday. PSV picked up an emphatic 3-0 win over Feyenoord to pick up their fourth win in five games, and currently sit in a tie for third place with Eredivisie giants Ajax.
In England, Simeon Jackson came on with eight minutes remaining for Norwich City on Saturday. Jackson was thrown into the fray as the Canaries hunted for an equalizer against Newcastle, but he wasn’t able to pull his team level and Norwich lost 1-0.
Norwich sit just above the relegation zone in 17th place, and two spots below them are Junior Hoilett and Queens Park Rangers. Their poor start to the season continued on Sunday as they lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur. Hoilett played the full game but is still looking for his first goal with his new club.
Down in the Championship, David Edgar was busy as Burnley split a pair of league games in the last seven days. Last Wednesday, Burnley dropped a 2-1 game to Leicester City but then reversed that score against Derby County on Saturday. Burnley occupy 16th place with nine points in seven games.
Edgar also played the full 90 minutes as Burnley were dumped from the Capital One Cup, losing 3-1 at Swindon Town on Tuesday.
While Occean and Eintracht enjoy life at the top of the German Bundesliga, it’s a different story for Marcel de Jong and his club, Augsburg.
The Bavarians are still looking for their first win in the Bundesliga season after they lost 2-0 to Mainz 05 on Saturday and sit at the bottom of the league with just a single point through four games.
Another winless streak was broken, however. It took seven games, but Kevin McKenna and FC Köln finally have their first win of the new 2.Bundesliga season.
On Friday, McKenna played the whole game as Köln lost 2-1 to Union Berlin before rebounding on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over FSV Frankfurt, with McKenna again featuring for the full 90.
Down in the German 3.Liga, defender Adam Straith and Saarbrücken picked up their first win in four games on Saturday as they beat Stuttgarter Kickers 2-1.
Back in England, pair of Canadians faced off on Saturday in England’s League One as Marcus Haber started for Stevenage and Iain Hume came on in the second half for Doncaster Rovers, but the two teams split the spoils with a 1-1 draw.
In the other corner of Europe, it’s become quite the race in the early going in Cyprus, with Canadians featuring on both teams battling for first.
Both Issey Nakajima-Farran (with AEK Larnaca) and Mike Klukowski (with APOEL) have won their first three games of the season and are tied for top spot.
On Saturday, Klukowski played the full 90 minutes as APOEL beat Alki 3-1, while Nakajima-Farran also played the full game as AEK defeated Omonia Nicosia 1-0.
In Sweden, Nik Ledgerwood played the entire game on Sunday for Hammarby in their 3-1 win over Brage. Hammarby sit in fourth place in Sweden’s second division, but look unlikely to challenge for a place in the top flight, sitting 13 points out of a playoff place and 14 from automatic promotion with six games remaining in the 2012 season.
In Finland, Mason Trafford and Mariehamn kept up the pressure on the top three teams in the Veikkausliiga with a 3-1 win over VPS on Saturday. Trafford and his mates remain in fourth place, just three points back of second and five back of first.
Just below them sit Riley O’Neill and MyPa. They couldn’t keep pace this weekend, though, as they lost 2-0 to KuPS on Sunday.
In a battle of teams fighting to avoid relegation, last-placed Jaro tired second-last place Haka 0-0. Frank Jonke played for Jaro and Nana Attakora played for Haka.
In Singapore, Jordan Webb scored his 10th goal of the season last Thursday and it proved to be the winner as Hougang United beat Albirex Niigata 3-2.
Midfielder Sherif El-Masri also saw action in Singapore. He was a second-half substitute in Young Lions’ 2-0 loss to Geylang United, their fifth league loss in a row.