Summer soccer highlights

Norway men’s national soccer team downs Sweden

mens national soccer team
Photo: Javad Parsa / NTB
The Norwegian national soccer team gathered behind the flag before the Nations League between Norway and Sweden at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo on June 12­, where they prevailed over the Swedes.­

MICHAEL KLEINER
Business and Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

Almost a month after May 17, Norway’s men’s national soccer team separated itself from Sweden with two victories over the yellow shirts in one week to take the lead in the Nations League Group B4. Besides the good-natured national rivalry, there’s the stark difference in their successes on the pitch.

Sweden has participated in 12 of 21 World Cups, advanced to the semifinals four times, and the final once. Norway has been to the World Cup three times: 1938, 1994, and 1998. Norway won’t be going to Qatar in the fall despite the presence of Martin Ødegaard, Erling Braut Haaland, and Alexander Sørloth. This was Norway’s first victory over Sweden since 2005 and their record in the series is 26 wins, 59 losses, 25 draws.

Haaland is carrying Norway on his back now and in the future. He scored two goals in each Sweden game and has 20 goals in 21 games for the national team. He shares ninth place on Norway’s all-time list. In Game 2, June 12, before 24,273 fans at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, Haaland got them rocking with a 10th minute goal, a low header off a feed from Fredrik Bjørkan on a corner. Haaland converted a penalty kick in the 54th for a 2-0 lead. Sweden’s Emil Forsberg cut the margin to 2-1 with a 60th minute goal, but Haaland served to Sørloth for a 77th minute tally and 3-1 lead. Viktor Gyökeres closed things out scoring at 90’ +5. In the opening 45 minutes, two free kicks were Sweden’s only shots on target.

Following Sweden’s first goal, Ødegaard subbed out and handed the captain’s armband to Haaland. Talk about respect.

In Game 1 in Stockholm on June 5, a controversial call put Haaland at the penalty spot and he placed it to the right of Swedish keeper Robin Olsen for a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. In the second half, Haaland gained control of the ball, raced ahead into the box, sent the ball right foot across the goalie and into the goal.

“Haaland is brutally strong,” said Swedish manager Janne Andersson.

“I am most happy he took greater responsibility defensively in the pressure, but Erling is, of course, our biggest match winner today,” said Norway manager Ståle Solbakken to NTB. “He also scored a nice goal with his head after missing some chances against Slovenia.”

Norway visits Slovenia on Sept. 24 , while Serbia hosts Sweden. Norway hosts Serbia and Sweden welcomes Slovenia on Sept. 27.

Deila to Belgium 

Just over six months ago, Ronny Deila fulfilled a promise and stripped down to his shorts after his New York City Football Club won the Major League Soccer championship on penalty kicks.

On June 13, with New York City in first place in the Eastern Conference, a point better than the Philadelphia Union, it was announced that Deila was leaving the bright lights for Belgium’s Standard Liège in the Sclessin neighborhood of Liège. The team, founded in 1898, is in 14th place in Belgium’s A league.

“I was very charmed by Standard Liège’s offer to come to a historic and warm club in Europe,” said Deila in a statement. “It is looking for innovation, and it is an adventure I definitely want to be a part of.”

Deila coached NYC in 2020, 2021, and to an 8 wins, 3 losses, 2 ties, 26 points record this season. He previously coached Vålerenga and Strømsgodset in Eliteserien, and Celtic in the Scottish Premiership League.

At Standard Liège, he will be reunited with former player Aron Dønnum.

Eliteserien so far

Remember Bodø-Glimt the last two years winning the club’s first championships in its history? Well, the spoils of success are more lucrative clubs in Europe want your best players and you sink in the table to sixth as of June 19. Rosenborg, the most successful Elite­serien club in history, has been a conundrum the last few year, with coaching changes but not much change on the pitch and they sit in eighth. Molde has maintained its consistency but they are not in first place—yet.

Lillestrøm (8 wins-3 draws-0 losses-27 pts) is. But, not by much. Molde (8-1-2-25) is back by two points, Viking (6-3-3-21) by six, Rosenborg (3-5-2-14) by 13 in eighth place. Most teams have 19 games left.

Lillestrøm has scored 24 goals, conceded just 8. Akor Adams leads the team with 4 goals and Ylldren Ibrahimaj and Igoh Ogbu have three apiece. Viking’s Veton Berisha leads the league with 8 goals, followed by five 6-goal scorers: Sigurd Haugen (Aalesund), Johan Hove (Strømsgodset), Alioune Ndour (Haugesund), Amahl Pellegrino (Bodø/Glimt), and Stefano Vecchia (Rosenborg).

Key games coming up: Strømsgodset-Lillestrøm, June 26; Viking-Rosenborg, July 3; Lillestrøm-Viking, July 10; Molde-Strømsgodset, July 31; Bodø/Glimt-Molde; Rosenborg-Viking, Sept. 4; Lillestrøm-Strømsgodset, Sept. 11; Molde-Aalesund; Rosenborg-Lillestrøm, Sept. 18; Aalesund-Viking; Lillestrøm-Rosenborg, Oct. 2; Viking-Lillestrøm, Oct. 9; Lillestrøm-Molde; Rosenborg-Strømsgodset; Viking-Sarpsborg 08, Oct. 16; Molde-Rosenborg, Oct. 23; Rosenborg-Bodø/Glimt; Viking-Molde, Oct. 30; Aalesund-Lillestrøm, Nov. 5; Bodø/Glimt-Viking, Nov. 6; Rosenborg-Sarpsborg 08; Strømsgodset-Bodø/Glimt, Nov. 13.

Toppserien too close to call 

Toppserien is shaping up as a three-team race with two points separating first place Brann (12 wins- 1 draw-1 loss-37 pts.), Rosenborg (11-2-2-35) and Vålerenga (11-2-2-35). There were three big games on the last three weekends before the league paused until Aug. 3. Brann has four games remaining, Rosenborg and Vålerenga, three each.

On June 12, Rosenborg, which has been a bridesmaid the last two seasons, downed the bride, Brann (nee Sandviken) 1-0 on a 21st minute goal by Synne Hansen in Trondheim. On June 5, Cecilie Kvamme scored in the 22nd minute to give Brann a 1-0 victory over Vålerenga, the women’s rendition of the bitter Bergen-Oslo rivalry. On the June 18, Rosenborg shut out Vålerenga 2-0 on goals by Cesilie Andreassen and Selma Sol Magnusdottir. The trio are using high powered offenses and stingy defenses. Vålerenga has outscored opponents 41-8, Brann 39-9 and Rosenborg 32-10. Since Sept. 29, 2019, Rosenborg has played 52 games and lost only four, three to Brann, who lost its first game since 2020. Over the last two seasons, Brann is 28-3-1.

Vålerenga dominates the top 15 scorers (based on goals scored) in the league with seven. Vålerenga’s Elise Thorsnes, who scored 14 goals last year, leads Toppserien with 13 goals, 2 assists, 15 pts. Second is Brann’s 20-year old Elisabeth Terland (10-0-10). Vålerenga has the third best (Janni Thomsen 6 goals, 5 assists, 11 points), sixth (Rikke Bogetveit Nygard (5-6-11), eighth (Agnete Nielsen 4-6-10), 11th, (Olaug Tvedten (4-2-6) and 13th (Runa Lillegård 4-1-5) top scorers. Brann has the seventh best (Marit Lund 4-7-11) and 13th (Svava Gudmundsdottir 4–1-5). Rosenborg is led by Sara Fornes (6-0-6, 5th), Anna Langås Josendahl (4-4-8, 10th) and Emilie Nautnes (4-0-4, 15th). Lyn, which is having a nice season, is led by Anna Aahjem (6-1-7, 4th).

This article originally appeared in the July 8, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.

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