UEFA held its draw for the first and second qualifying rounds of Champions League and Europa League for next season on Monday. Here is a quick look at who some Americans will be facing in the early rounds (first and second qualifying rounds). For a look at the full draws, check that out here and here.
Danijal Brkovic – Željezničar
The Bosnian-American forward will enter Champions League in the second qualifying round (played over two legs on July 16-17 & July 23-24) after winning last season’s Bosnian Premier League. Brkovic played in 10 games last season, scoring once, and his team will face Czech Liga champions FC Viktoria Plzeň. Željezničar are making their sixth appearance all-time in Champions League, but have moved past the second round only once (made it to the third qualifying round in 2002-03).
Wikipedia fun fact on their opponent: Goalkeeper Petr Cech was born in Plzeň and grew up in the FC Viktoria Plzeň youth system before signing with FK Chmel Blšany in 1999.
Josh Gatt – Molde FK
Josh Gatt and Molde have been struggling this season, but maybe they can spark something with an appearance in Champions League. It will be interesting to see if Gatt will stay in Norway to play with Molde or will miss some Champions League games due to the Gold Cup in the US. Molde drew League of Ireland Premier Division champions Sligo Rovers in the second qualifying round. This will be Molde’s third all-time appearance in Champions League, losing in the third qualifying round last season and making it to the group stage in 1999-00.
Wikipedia fun fact on their opponent: Sligo Rivers are a co-operative venture, owned by the people of Sligo.
Mikkel Diskerud – Rosenborg
Much like Josh Gatt, Mix Diskerud is another player who could either still be in Europe playing in these games or he will be missing them due to the Gold Cup. Rosenborg enter this year’s Europa League in the first qualifying round (played over two legs on July 4 & July 11) after finishing third in last year’s Tippeligaen. 2013-14 marks Rosenborg’s 14th appearance in Europa League, playing at least one game in the tournament in seven of the previous eight seasons. They will square of with IFA Premiership (Northern Ireland) runners-up Crusaders FC.
Wikipedia fun fact on their opponent: Crusaders lost to Rosenborg, 4-0 on aggregate, in the first qualifying round of Europa League in 2012-13.
Bryan Gerzicich – Hapoel Tel Aviv
After making the move from Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona to Hapoel Tel Aviv this summer, Bryan finds himself in the second qualifying round of Europa League (played over two legs on July 18 & July 25). Hapoel Tel Aviv finished third in the Israeli Premier League and they will be facing the Bulgarian side PFC Beroe Stara Zagora. This will be Hapoel Tel Aviv’s 13th all-time appearance in Europa League after making it to the group stage in 2012-13.
Wikipedia fun fact on their opponent: PFC Beroe Stara Zagora won the now defunct Balkans Cup (an international competition for clubs from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia from 1961 to 1994) a record four times (1967-68, 1969, 1981-83 & 1983-84).
Tony Taylor – AC Omonia
It looks like Tony Taylor is making a move to the Cyprus side pending a physical (more on this later). AC Omonia enter the competition in the second qualifying round after finishing third in last year’s Cypriot First Division. They will play the winner of Domžale (Slovenia) and Astra Giurgiu (Romania) from the first round. AC Omonia is one of the four biggest clubs in Cyprus, but has yet to ever qualify for a European group stage (Champions League or Europa League).
Wikipedia fun fact on their opponent (Domžale): Domžale was formed in 1921 and is one of the oldest Slovenian clubs.
Wikipedia fun fact on their opponent (Astra Giurgiu): Astra Giurgiu was known as Astra Ploiești until 2012 when it was moved from Ploieşti to Giurgiu by owner Ioan Niculae.
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Matt likes soccer. He likes sleeping in. He is also amused easily. That is pretty much it.