Owen Otasowie got the start for Club Brugge as they shared the points with Zulte-Waregem while Sam Vines and Royal Antwerp claimed another win over the weekend.

Club Brugge 1 – 1 Zulte-Waregem

After registering a win in their first game of the season, the defending Belgian champions dropped points for the second week in a row, this time against Zulte-Waregem, the team that barely survived relegation last season.  Owen Otasowie finally got the nod and started his first league game for Club and put in a 68-minute shift before making way for Loubadhe Sylla.  Club also did themselves no favors by completing the transfer of their wunderkind Charles De Ketelaere to AC Milan.  The attacking midfielder be sorely missed.

Both goals came after the intermission with Andreas Skov Olsen finding the back of the net for the champions, while Olesandr Drambaev did the same for the visitors.

Waregem were all over Club in the first half as they tried to find their defensive feet.  At least one of the two early chances should have been put away.  Jean-Luc Dompe was served the ball on a plate just nine yards out but the French attacker made it easy for Simon Mignolet to make the save just 12 minutes into the game.  Minutes earlier he also fluffed his lines. Caspar Nielsen should have scored at the other end minutes later.

Otasowie started on the left side of a three-man defense and did not look comfortable performing defensive duties.  Dompe ran by him on a couple of occasions.

The Blue-Blacks eventually sorted themselves out and settled into the game.  They had a much better second half and that showed almost immediately after the re-start.  And it was truly a team goal with a few quick passes in the box before the Dane was played through the middle and beat the Z-W keeper on the second try after Sammy Bossut got a hand to the first effort.  The goal was Skov Olsen’s third in three games this season.

In the 69th minute, Alieu Fadera made the perfect cross into the box for his Ukrainian teammate who made no mistake from 6 yards out. 

The loss leaves Otasowie and Club in eighth place on four points out of nine.  Their only saving grace is that last year’s runners-up, USG, are having the same bad luck with the same amount of points thus far.  They will look to right their ship next Sunday however when they travel to Leuven to face a team that has been on fire early in the season.

Royal Antwerp 4 – 2 OH Leuven

It was a goal-fest at the Bosuil Stadium in Antwerp when the leagues only two teams with maximum points clashed on Sunday night. Sam Vines went the distance in his left-back position while Michel-Ange Balikwisha scored a brace for the Great Old on the way to the 4-2 victory.

The visitors struck first when after 27 minutes Nachon Nsingi’s defender refused to close him down and allowed the Belgian to take a free kick just inside the top of the 18-yard box. he picked out the far corner, giving a diving Jean Butez no chance. Louis Patris provided the cross and assist.

The lead only lasted about 10 minutes because Belgian international Radja Nainggolan found the back of the net from 12 yards out. From there, Antwerp took the lead two minutes later. Having scored 24 times last season, Swissman Michael Frey struck for the third time this season after a sweet cross from Ritchie De Laet. And this is how things ended at the intermission.

Ten minutes after the re-start, first-half assist provider Patris claimed a goal of his own when he out-jumped everyone and nodded Koji Miyoshi’s corner kick into the back of the net. With things all square, it was time for Balikwisha’s heroics. His first, in the 71st minute, came when he outpaced his marker and got on the end of Pieter Gerkens cross from the right. The game was then put to bed in the 82nd minute when he struck again, this time after a bit of fancy footwork and then a screamer from just inside the D that flew into the top right-hand corner of the net.

Vines and company will look to stay perfect in the league when they head southeast to take on Eupen. Before that, however, they will welcome Norwegian side Lillestrom on Thursday night for the return leg of their UEFA Conference League play-off. The Belgians have a 3-1 lead from the first leg.

Notes

Kyle Duncan has left the country and headed back to New Jersey, on loan to the Red Bull team.   YA will cover him again once he returns overseas. 

Mark McKenzie stayed on the bench for Genk but they won anyway, beating visiting Eupen by a 4-2 score line.  Up next for the Limburgers will be a trip west to take on Zulte-Waregem on Sunday night.

New boys Westerlo blew a very early lead and ended the day with nothing after falling to Gent 2-1 at the Ghelamco Arena in East Flanders.  Neither Bryan Reynolds nor Griffin Yow took part in the contest.  They now sit in 14th place with just the one win that came in their season opener against Cercle Brugge.  Up next will be a Saturday afternoon visit from Standard Liege.

Jorge Hernandez got to play 12 minutes in Mechelen’s shock defeat of Union Saint-Gilliose who probably celebrated too much after their midweek win over Glasgow Rangers in their Champions League qualifier.  The 3-0 win was Mechelen’s first of the season.  They’ll look to make it two in a row and their young American will hope for more minutes when they travel to take on Cercle Brugge. 

By Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on Amazon.com, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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