Friday, October 1, 2010

Finland, Finland, Finland

The Finnish adventure for USL2 alums Mason Trafford, Giuseppe Funicello, and Lamar Neagle has continued to be a good story both for them and for IFK Mariehamn. With three games left in the season, IFK has moved to eighth on the league table after a huge win over fellow relegation candidates JJK Jyvaskyla this week. Trafford and Funicello started the game and Neagle came on to join them as a late substitute. IFK fell behind 2-1 at the half but Real Maryland's Mason Trafford equalized off of a corner and IFK scored again to secure a vital three points.

IFK's web-site now also features a short interview with Funicello and Trafford, both of whom express (perhaps predictably) great fondness for their new club and for the team's supporters.

IFK will face the team just below them on the league table -- Myllykosken Pallo –47 -- in their next match, followed by a fixture against the club currently slated for relegation, FC Lahti. With safety perhaps assured, Trafford, Funicello, Neagle and company can set their sights on moving further up the table closer to IFK's fourth place finish last season.

Separately, the number of Americans and Canadians in the Finnish top flight that Trafford, Neagle, and Funicello joined merits a brief mention. University of Wisconsin Green Bay alum Tosaint Ricketts is part of the Myllykosken Pallo –47 squad that will face IFK next. FC Inter Turku, a club that currently sits sixth in the league table, features the former Rochester Rhino Daniel Antunez and former Toronto FC keeper David Monsalve. Another Canadian in Finland -- USL PDL Toronto Lynx alum Frank Jonke -- also has fairly good prospects at avoiding relegation this season, as recently promoted AC Oulu sit 11th on the league table, but have their next two fixtures scheduled against teams that are 12th and 13th. The team that sits 12th, Vaasan Palloseura, features two Americans: recent Clemson alum Greg Eckhardt and another USL2 alum (Harrisburg City Islander) Brian Pope (who is apparently injured).

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